Nov 19

Emirates Diplomatic Academy Launches SDG Center of Excellence for the Arab Region

Nov 19, 2018

Continuing to advance its platform that combines the best of academia, research and practice in the preparation of the UAE’s current and future diplomats, the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA) today announced the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals Center of Excellence for the Arab Region (SDGCAR).

In collaboration with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), EDA will build the SDGCAR as a centre of training and research with a specific focus on regional challenges and solutions to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

After a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between EDA and the SDSN Association, the establishment of SDGCAR was formally announced at a launch event. The occasion drew the participation of His Excellency Abdulla Nasser Lootah, Director General of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority and Vice Chair of the UAE National Committee on SDGs; His Excellency Bernardino León, EDA Director General; and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, SDSN Director. They were joined by His Excellency Dr Salam Fayyad, former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority; His Excellency Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum; and Her Excellency Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the International Renewable Energy Agency and EDA Deputy Director General, for a panel discussion entitled ‘Implementing the SDGs in the Arab Region and the Role of Diplomacy’. 

On this occasion, Her Excellency Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Chairwoman of the National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, said: “Sustainable Development Goals represent important components of Vision 2021. Being host to the SDGCAR will add credence to the good work EDA already has conducted in the region and present EDA as the de facto choice when searching for research, training and knowledge on SDGs. It will also make valuable contributions towards the UAE’s achievements of the SDGs.”

Among its first initiatives, the SDGCAR will support SDSN by being part of its extraordinary network of massive open online courses (MOOCs). In addition, the Centre will engage in various activities related to sustainable development diplomacy.

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For his part, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, said: “Being a part of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network gives the SDGCAR and EDA a powerful knowledge platform to leverage on to help achieve SDGs in this region. It provides a way to examine best practices that other areas have used, and also practices that they no longer use because they failed, so that the Sustainable Development Center of Excellence for the Arab Region need not head down those blind alleys and dead end streets. It means they are not in the fight alone and will be able to reach out to their sister Centers of Excellence across the globe should that need arise.”

He added: “I can think of no better home to a Sustainable Development Goals Center of Excellence for this region than the UAE due to its exemplary leadership. The Emirates Diplomatic Academy has already proven to be a powerful agent using all the tools at its disposal to educate and structure the talk around SDGs in a way that makes them accessible and understandable. We must continue to control the message in this manner to help the world understand that we must commit to the SDGs with the same verve and belief as the UAE.”

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His Excellency Bernardino León, Director General of EDA, said: “The EDA is honoured to be the host of this prestigious regional platform. We will work hard, from day one, to make this Centre the go-to hub for training and research on region-specific challenges and solutions for achieving the SDGs.”

He added: “Hosting the SDGCAR in Abu Dhabi will further help strengthen the UAE’s position as the regional champion for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Supporting sustainable development in the Arab region is also fully in line with the UAE’s foreign policy priorities, including those in the area of foreign assistance and international cooperation.”

The launch event was attended by His Excellency Dr Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment; The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, UK Minister of State for the Middle East; His Excellency Mohamed Issa Hamad Abushahab, Ambassador of UAE to the Kingdom of Belgium; Baroness Catherine Ashton, former High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union; His Excellency Paulo Portas, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Portuguese Republic; Her Excellency Susana Malcorra, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Argentine Republic; Her Excellency María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia; His Excellency Ibrahim Al Abed, Advisor to Chairman of the National Media Council, among others.

The SDGCAR will link to a global network of SDG Centers of Excellence already launched in Rwanda (Africa), China, Malaysia (Association of Southeast Asian Nations - ASEAN) and Colombia (Latin America and the Caribbean). The SDGCAR and EDA will also work with a variety of stakeholders in the Arab region that include SDSN member universities and other knowledge partners, governments, civil society and businesses, and other UAE stakeholders.