From 27-28 January, the SDSN had the privilege of attending the 3rd annual UAE Public Policy Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The event entitled “Accelerating SDGs Implementation: A Future Policy Roadmap” was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum ‐ Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG). In partnership with the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority in the UAE (FCSA), the forum focused on the emerging, accelerating dynamics for implementing the SDGs in the age of the “4th Industrial Revolution.” As a policy and knowledge platform, the forum addressed policy implications, challenges, responses, and future sustainable development prospects in the UAE. It also discussed the potential policy challenges and responses in the UAE with the objective of drafting a high-level “policy roadmap” for the UAE’s 2020-2030.

The event saw broad participation from both local and international actors seeking to advance SDG implementation in all sectors and all levels of society. The conference addressed several key themes around sustainable development including; mainstreaming the SDGs; sustainable and resilient cities; life-long learning skills and competencies for sustainable development; data-driven sustainable growth; circular economy; the role of universities in SDG implementation; technology; social inclusion; and more.

The panel discussions were complemented with “Forum Sparks,” short TED-style presentations held by experts sharing their knowledge and experience around SDG implementation. In this format, SDSN Manager Lara Dahan held a talk entitled “Beyond Education: How can Universities Shape a Sustainable Future,” which aimed to highlight the ways in which universities can engage in the SDGs based on SDSN’s “Guide to Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities” pioneered by Monash University, host of SDSN Australia, New Zealand, & Pacific.

The spirit that has brought the region to where it is today, is the same spirit that can shape its impact on sustainable development: cooperation… Fortunately, the Arab region is characterised by its use of a common language and traditions, creating fertile ground for cooperation, facilitating a scale and pace of developmental change that is truly exciting. The SDGs are well positioned to act as a second language in the region, utilised for positive and constructive problem-solving.

Lara Dahan, National and Regional Network Manager, SDSN.

The event also coincided with the inaugural release of the “Dubai Policy Review” which features an introduction from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. The publication focuses on public policies written by and for decision makers, experts, academics, and thought leaders. The review featured an article by SDSN Director Jeffrey Sachs entitled “How can we Achieve the SDGs? Strategic Policy Directions.” Several other publications were released at the event which can be accessed here.

At the end of each day, the organizers hosted workshops where discussions were held around policy papers relating to the SDGs as well as trainings to help build competencies on sustainable development. The event closed with a virtual keynote from Professor Jeffrey Sachs who discussed opportunities for the region around sustainable development and outlined six key areas of transformation for the SDGs. You can read more about these transformations here.

In addition, during a press conference on the second day of the event, the MBRSG announced their recent SDSN membership which we expect to be the beginning of a longstanding relationship committed to advancing the SDGs in the Arab world. The MBRSG aims to build local capacity on development issues through their Master’s Programs on Public Policy which cover, education, health, science and technology, social policy and sustainable development. Through these courses the university seeks to inform its students on key development issues facing the region including; policy analysis of the UAE’s decision to lift subsidies on fuel prices, optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the already existing transportation infrastructure in Dubai, quality of life/wellbeing measures in the UAE/happiness, promoting sustainable economic growth in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and achieving the UAE’s environmental sustainability goals.

About the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government 

The Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government previously known as Dubai School of Government is a research and teaching institution in DubaiUnited Arab Emirates, which focuses on public policy in the Arab world. The school was established in 2005 under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. You can read more about the university in the MBRSD brochure (available in English and Arabic).

About the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority

The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA) is a federal government authority reporting to UAE Cabinet, aiming to develop the UAE’s performance in the areas of competitiveness and statistics, through establishing an integrated national statistical system and regulating the statistical and competitiveness sector to achieve UAE’s national interests. The FCSA act as the official source of statistics and monitoring of competitiveness performance in international reports, where FCSA is responsible for the development of and running a unified, comprehensive, accurate, consistent and up-to-date national statistical system across different sectors. It is also responsible for consolidating definitions, methodologies, and classifications in the in statistical and competitiveness work standards in coordination with governmental and international authorities.

Media Round-up:

‘Dubai Policy Review’ launches, Emirates News Agency – January 27, 2019

‘Dubai Policy Review’ Launches, Urdu Point – January 27, 2019

Dubai achieves most Sustainable Development Goals: Challenges in building smart cities discussed as third Public Policy Forum opens, Gulf News – January 27, 2019

‘Clear vision helped UAE overcome crisis’, Khaleej Times – January 27, 2019

Lifelong learning a must in 4IR, New Straits Times – January 28, 2019

Lifelong Learning the Key to Sustainable Development, Zawya (Thompson Reuters) – January 28, 2019

Does competitiveness have a role in sustainable development?, answered in UAE Public Policy Forum, Zawya (Thompson Reuters) – January 28, 2019

Experts discuss the role of data in driving sustainable growth at 3rd Annual UAE Public Policy Forum, Business Intelligence Middle East – January 29, 2019