Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) officially launched the Unesco Chair on Environmental Law and Sustainable Development recently. The inaugural chairholder, Dr Damilola S Olawuyi, professor and associate dean for research at the HBKU College of Law, presented his first lecture setting out his vision for the chair.
The high-level launch also featured keynote speeches by Qatari officials as well as senior Unesco representatives and a panel discussion with foremost experts on environmental law and sustainability.
In his inaugural lecture, Dr Olawuyi said: “The Unesco Chair at HBKU will be at the forefront of galvanising multi-stakeholder cooperation and partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals in Qatar and beyond for the next several decades. Technological innovations and changes in key economic sectors and industries in response to climate change, pandemics, and other environmental and social pressures, offer a broad scope for much needed future research. As the inaugural chairholder, my aim is to develop, train, and equip homegrown policy leaders capable of steering the continuous implementation of environment and sustainable development instruments in the region.”
The launch commenced with an opening speech by Dr Michael J Benedik, HBKU provost, Salah Khaled, director, Unesco Doha Office for Gulf States and Yemen, and Sheikha Aisha bint Mubarak al-Thani, head of the Unesco Department, Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
Dr Benedik said: “Sustainable development is an area where research frontiers must expand to reflect the nature of the challenges and opportunities facing our societies. Some are particular to the Middle East region and HBKU is uniquely placed through our partnerships to give the Unesco Chair visibility to engage with important stakeholders.”
“We congratulate the chairholder, Prof Damilola Olawuyi, and members of the HBKU College of Law for their tremendous work and effort for putting together an excellent research program. We are very keen on working together and identifying ways to strengthen our collaboration to advance knowledge and localise solutions in the field of environmental law and sustainability,” Khaled, explained.
Keynote addresses reflected on emerging challenges and the need to strengthen research, education, and knowledge dissemination. Eminent speakers included HE Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Muraikhi, special adviser to the UN Secretary-General, HE Dr Saleh bin Mohammad al-Nabit, President of the Planning and Statistics Authority and Former Minister of Development Planning and Statistics, and HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada, Chairman of the Joint Advisory Board and Adjunct Professor, Texas A&M University and Former Minister for Energy and Industry. Other eminent participants included Yakubu Abdullahi Ahmed, ambassador of Nigeria and Francois Junior Guillaume, ambassador of Haiti.
Established in 2022, the HBKU Unesco Chair is a centre of excellence that promotes research, training, public dialogue, partnerships, and international and regional cooperation on environmental law as a tool for advancing sustainable development in Qatar and the Mena region.
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