Reimagining sustainability - GulfToday

Reimagining sustainability


Sheikh Maktoum is being briefed at the Switzerland Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday.

Staff Reporter, Gulf Today

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Friday met with the President of Seychelles Wavel Ramkalawan at the country’s pavilion in Expo 2020.

Speaking during the tour, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid said the UAE recognised the vital need for maintaining sustainability in all sectors at an early stage of its development, thanks to the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Today, the nation is committed to strengthening environmental conservation, maintaining balanced socio-economic growth and ensuring all its projects are based on the principle of sustainability.

Sheikh Mohammed discussed with the Seychelles President ways to enhance ties between the two countries, especially in the fields of economy, trade and tourism, in light of the efforts to facilitate smooth travel between the two countries and the restoration of normalcy in different regions of the world.

Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied by Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee; and Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

During their tour of the Seychelles Pavilion, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid and President Ramkalawan saw exhibits that showcase the natural beauty and history of the nation’s islands, the steps being taken to safeguard them, and the opportunities for people to take part in their preservation. Seychelles’ Pavilion highlights the country’s Blue Economy initiatives and other projects that are currently securing the country’s present and future.

A popular global tourism destination, Seychelles comprises 115 islands, 50 per cent of which are protected areas. Sheikh Mohammed expressed his appreciation for the efforts being undertaken by Seychelles to strengthen environmental conservation and sustainability in the country.

A family tours the Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday. Kamal Kassim, Gulf Today

The Seychelles Pavilion is designed to highlight the importance of treasuring nature. Drawing from the country’s lost treasure myths and treasure hunting culture, the Pavilion features the hidden treasures of the island nation.

Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, on Friday visited the Switzerland Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and met with Guy Parmelin, President of the Swiss Confederation.

Speaking during the tour, Sheikh Maktoum said Expo 2020 Dubai offers the 192 participating countries an opportunity to present their innovation, creativity and ideas for shaping the future. At the same time, Expo 2020 Dubai is an opportunity for the countries to showcase their traditions and culture.

Sheikh Maktoum said the presence of more than 200 nationalities living in harmony in Dubai reflects the key role coexistence, collaboration and innovation play in enhancing prosperity.

During the visit, Sheikh Maktoum was introduced to the Swiss Pavilion’s curated visual journey that informs visitors about the nation’s history, culture, ecology, natural beauty, innovation, cuisine and arts. Under the theme ‘Reflections’, the Pavilion features iconic cubic architecture, a giant interactive mirrored façade and a ‘Swiss crystal cave’. Based on the concept of a journey, visitors can experience surprising facets of Switzerland by walking through the Pavilion.

Visitors can go on a hike through a sea of fog or travel on a magic carpet to feel the thrill of excitement as Switzerland‘s breathtaking nature comes into view. Visitors can also enjoy magnificent landscapes and discover opportunities offered by the country, in addition to tasting Swiss chocolate specialties.

Meanwhile, technology experts, business leaders, and innovators from across the world gathered in person and virtually at the Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo 2020 yesterday for Forbes Middle East’s first Sustainable Innovation Summit.

Throughout the day, five panels featuring experts and executives from businesses at the cutting-edge of industry transformation explored how organisations are reimagining the future through the lens of sustainability. Discussions centered around some of the biggest and most debated issues today, including diversity and inclusivity, connected smart cities and travel, climate change, and Fintech.

The summit began with an informative address from Ayman Mokhtar, Regional President for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa at Viatris, about how the healthcare sector has faced the challenges of the last two years and the lessons the industry needs to take forward into the new era. “The pandemic has reinforced the need for sustainable and resilient health and healthcare systems,” stressed Mokhtar. “This can be achieved by prioritizing healthcare funding and investment, incentivizing digital innovation as a pillar for better health, and harnessing the power of public and private dialogue and partnerships.”

Starting the day by tackling a topic that underpins every positive business change, the “Mission Possible: Opportunity for Everyone” panel raised the challenges and benefits of diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace and questioned how business leaders are using their roles and initiatives to make a difference to the health and happiness of their people. Panelists discussed issues ranging from gender representation in the office and ensuring equal opportunities and pay for women to the importance of work-life balance while large portions of the workforce continue to work from home. The conversation revealed that many businesses are seeing evidence of burnout among staff. As such, it is vital that going forward leaders consider the needs of their people as well as their businesses if they want to continue to see positive results. “The future is hybrid and flexible,” said Rosanna Duncan, Chief Diversity Officer at Palladium.

Looking beyond the workplace to explore movement and travel, “Multimodal Mobility: The Digital Fix for a Connected Tomorrow” discussed the implementation and development of new automotive infrastructure for a sustainable future. With autonomous vehicles, the creation of new modes of travel powered by electricity, and increasingly accessible shared systems powering smart vehicles, issues such as safety and regulation are paramount. With innovation driven by necessity, the entire automotive industry is currently at a crossroads and going through an exciting transformation. Lucky La Ricca, VP and Head of Digital Services at Ericson Middle East, stressed that all this change is being powered by connected networks and 5G. “Ericsson has been actively investing in leveraging cellular technology to enable sustainable transport systems and to make safe autonomous vehicles a reality,” he revealed. “We strive to empower a thriving ecosystem in the region and globally.”

A future-focused thriving ecosystem must have sustainability at its core to enhance the environment in which it exists. Looking at the responsibilities of commerce and industry in this evolution, “Technology-Driven Sustainable Business Practices” explored how leaders are implementing change to positively impact communities. Panelists agreed that the future of the planet would be shaped by our capabilities, whether that’s in engineering, construction, or healthcare.

“To build a brighter, more sustainable future, it is paramount that governments, changemakers, and business leaders continue to employ project management and build environment capabilities along with the future skills that help accelerate the shift towards a sustainable knowledge-based project economy, making a bigger societal impact,” said Grace Najjar, Managing Director of PMI MENA. Speakers acknowledged that everyone has a moral obligation to drive a sustainability agenda, and consumers want to see this in the services and brands that they engage with. The challenge is time, with many people now expecting new products within months, whereas development takes years.

Some developments can be seen to be progressing in real-time, and “Driving Sustainability Through Smarter Cities” raised a hot topic for the Middle East in particular as the region continues to invest in the systems that are creating smart, super-connected, and networked cities. This subject looked at how organizations are working to not only power these metropolises of the future but also ensure that sustainability values remain at their core from day one. “Sustainability is the issue of this century, and we all have to play our part in reducing our resource needs. And we believe that technology will play a major role in making our homes, buildings, factories, and infrastructure more efficient and productive,” said Caspar Herzberg, President for the Middle East and Africa at Schneider Electric. Speakers discussed how security remains a key issue as cities become more digitally reliant. Connected systems face more risk as if one device is compromised the whole network becomes exposed. The challenge for leaders now is satisfying our growing need for connectivity while securing privacy and safety and considering the urgency of our need for efficient and sustainable communities.

Finally, delving into how technology is creating opportunities for previously underserved consumers, “Fintech: A Positive Step Towards Financial Inclusion” looked at how the future of financial transactions and payments could further equality by making money management more accessible to unbanked populations through digitization. Therefore, investment in Fintech not only means that displaced people and refugees can control their finances and support themselves, but it also drives economic growth. However, the need to ensure security, consistency, and efficiency makes it a complex industry. “We created an ecosystem in Fintech,” explained Salmaan Jaffery, Chief Business Development Officer at the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority. “To do that requires regulatory change, policy development, and partnership with the private sector.”

The conversations throughout the day uncovered sustainable innovation from five distinct angles. From its importance in business management, its role in the future of the movement of goods and people, its power to impact communities, its necessity in the reimagining of our cities as technology-driven hubs, and its value in giving people control of their finances at their fingertips. Amidst the spectacular backdrop of Expo 2020, where 192 country pavilions showcase the world’s greatest inventions and the endless possibilities of human imagination, the summit highlighted how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.

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