Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Today, the Urban Journalism Academy, a pioneering initiative to train journalists and media professionals with an interest in sustainable, urban development, held a workshop for media on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2016. Organized by United Nations Habitat III Secretariat and hosted by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Government of United Arab Emirates and Masdar, the workshop convened over 30 representatives of local, regional and international media.
Half the world’s population – or 3.5 billion people – now live in cities. This is forecasted to reach 60% by 2030 and 75% by 2050. Addressing the complex challenges of rapid urbanization is one of the key thematic issues addressed through various events and conferences at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2016.

“Efforts to mitigate climate change and de-carbonise our energy system must focus heavily on cities as the largest consumers,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “The media is the most effective channel to communicate this imperative and the opportunities inherent in a transition to renewable energy.”

Speaking on the importance of the workshop, Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Sustainability at Masdar, the host of ADSW, said: “Awareness is one of the four core pillars of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. This event represented an important opportunity to increase the level of knowledge on urban development issues among journalists, who in turn play a critical role in expanding the level of consciousness to the wider audience in the UAE, the region and the world.”

UN Habitat’s representative, Faraj El-Awar, said: “The Urban Journalism Academies are designed to make urban development issues and challenges clear and accessible to the general public, beyond the professionals, researchers and public authorities, bringing the urban debate closer to the average citizen. Media has a key role in disseminating and following up the global discussions towards the New Urban Agenda.”

Moderated by Rome-based urban journalist Simone d’Antonio, the workshop took a unique global-to-local approach to the topic of urban journalism. The classroom-style discussion began with remarks on the challenges and opportunities of global urbanisation from Faraj El-Awar, Programme Manager Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance and UN Habitat. Yasmeen Al Rashedi, Senior Manager, Estidama Department of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council then delivered remarks on sustainable development in the UAE. Masdar City – one of the world’s most sustainable urban developments – served as a key case study in the discussion.
The workshop followed the full-day Future Cities Forum on January 20, which hosted the Habitat III Sustainable Energy Thematic Meeting. Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, to take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October, 2016.