Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) has announced four strategic partnerships with the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), General Electric (GE), and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology Young Future Energy leaders (YFEL) programme at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East.

The announcements coincided with the first all-day conference on 20 January to take place under the WiSER initiative, an event attended by leading global dignitaries in the fields of sustainability and renewable energy. The day before the conference, the Advisory Board of WiSER met for the first time since its formation. The board was officially announced at the UN General Assembly in September 2015 and oversees the implementation of WiSER programmes.

His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar, and an advisory board member said: “Women are critical to advancing the prosperity of modern societies. Without doubt the further empowerment and education of women will serve as one of the most important factors in realising a sustainable future. The WiSER initiative, through a platform of knowledge sharing and relationship building, ensures that women are given the necessary tools to be leaders in sustainability.”

Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Sustainability at Masdar and Director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, discussed the growing importance of the WiSER initiative to the future of sustainability: “Women can play an essential role in the future of sustainability. However, more must be done to ensure that they are represented in the decision-making process. Part of what makes WiSER important is that it seeks to give women valuable insights into what is required to succeed in industries related to sustainability. In doing so we provide a platform for women to take this knowledge, share it, and use it as the basis for influencing the future of key industries and policy formation. These new partnership relationships will enhance the ability of women to help shape the future of sustainability.”

MASEN and WiSER will jointly establish an internship programme for women to gain hands-on experience at the Moroccan solar agency, thereby fulfilling one of WiSER’s key missions of providing training opportunities for women. The arrangement will also see the development of a renewable energy conference on the sidelines of COP 22 that will seek to address the role that women can play in post-COP 21 implementation and broader renewable energy implementations and challenges.

Nadia Taobane, Project Development Director at MASEN said: “Affording women the ability to gain hands-on professional experience is one of the most effective ways of ensuring their influence is felt in key sustainable industries. That is why this internship arrangement between WiSER and MASEN is so important and will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship as we move towards a joint-conference on women’s role in sustainability at COP22.”
The WiSER and REN21 partnership agreement includes an engagement strategy that will build towards a joint working arrangement. This arrangement will subsequently lead to the development of a women’s pillar as part of the IREC Latin America, which will take place in 2017. Deepening the role that women are playing in the post-COP 21 sustainability landscape.

Christine Lins, Executive Secretary of REN21, said: “Ensuring that there are platforms available for knowledge exchange and learning are essential for women’s involvement in renewable energy and sustainability. Helping to grow this network of opportunity through partnership arrangements, such as between REN21 and WiSER, can only strengthen the tools available to women to be an equal voice in this rapidly growing field post-COP21.”
Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and WiSER initiative are partnering to support several bright young women to realise their dreams of becoming leaders in the global sustainability movement. Through the partnership, a number of full scholarships will be provided to aspiring, female sustainability leaders to enrol in Masdar Institute’s graduate-level sustainability programs.

Moreover, several seats in the Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL), the Institute’s annual program of global experiences and learning, will be made available through competitive fellowships, open to female applicants globally.

Dr. Lamya N. Fawwaz, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Public Affairs, Masdar Institute, said: “Masdar Institute’s collaboration with the WiSER initiative is a continuation of our efforts to develop the UAE’s talented young women through world-class STEM education and mentorship, so they can be leveraged as a key resource to fuel the UAE’s knowledge economy transformation. Female empowerment and high female integration are key Masdar Institute values that are inspired by the legacy of the Founding Father of the UAE, the Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who strongly believed in the valuable role women can play in the UAE, and that continue to be supported by the UAE’s leadership.”
Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost of Masdar Institute, said: “In order to achieve a truly sustainable and resilient economy, we need to focus our efforts on the development of the next generation of innovators in the UAE. At Masdar Institute, it is our role to develop this human capital in support of our country’s economic transformation. It is our pleasure to be working with the WiSER initiative to further advance this vision.”
Meanwhile, GE and WiSER announced the launch of a leadership training programme in renewable energy. The GE Ecomagination Innovation Center in Masdar City, which promotes research and training in sustainability initiatives, will serve as an anchor point for the training programme. Experts from GE and Masdar will provide extensive training on various aspects of the renewable energy industry.

Deb Frodl, Global Executive Director, GE, Ecomagination, discussed the new partnership with WiSER: “The training programme has a dual goal of encouraging women’s participation in the renewable energy industry and promoting their entrepreneurial skills. It will complement the UAE government’s wish to strengthen the role of women in the energy sustainability sector, as well as enhancing workplace diversity.”

The WiSER conference addressed such issues as decarbonisation and climate resilience and the interconnectivity between climate objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals. It also saw such dignitaries as Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iceland, Ms. Hakima El Haite, Delegate Minister in charge of Environment, Minister of Energy, Mining, Water and Environment, Morocco, and Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Vice Chair of the UN Foundation and Deputy Chair of The Elders, and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award of the 2016 Zayed Future Energy Prize, give keynote addresses.

The WiSER initiative strives to redefine the role of women in the field of sustainability. It seeks to ensure that women are drivers of change, and their voices significantly impact innovation – whether this is in policy, technology or business. Through education and knowledge exchange WiSER gives women the tools to succeed.