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Lifelong Learning the Key to Sustainable Development

The importance of lifelong learning for sustainable development was the topic on the table at the opening session of the second day of the third UAE Public Policy Forum, which was held in Dubai under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

Organised by the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) – the first research and teaching institution focusing on governance and public policy in the Arab world - the two-day event titled ‘Accelerating SDGs Implementation Future Policy Roadmap’ discussed key issues around health, the private sector, youth engagement and technology in relation to meeting the 17 SDGs under the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Moderating the first session on day two was Professor Martin Spraggon Associate Dean, Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, who asked his panelists how the academic world could become more involved in meeting sustainable development targets.

Professor Eric Champagne, Director of the Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa, highlighted his belief that universities had a central role to play in meeting the 17 SDGs. “I really do think that universities should be partners in this. We need all the stakeholders, including universities, who can play a role in many respects. First of all, they should integrate SDGs – and they don’t do this really very much – but they should integrate SDGs in their own targets, in their own strategic planning, in their own decisions and their own actions - that should help set the overall tone,” he said.

Professor Zakri Abdul Hamid  Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Chairman of the Board University of Malaysia, expressed his thoughts on governments driving sustainable development. “I think it was a watershed moment in 2015 when more than 195 heads of government agreed to the 2030 development agenda and the 17 SDGs. This coincided with the Paris Agreement on climate change. There and then we witnessed a very important element that we need to recognise – and that is political will. It has to depend on government leaders,” he said.

Professor Laurel McFarland Executive Director, Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, Administration (NASPAA) outlined the role of her organisation during the panel discussion. “NASPAA is a global organisation - we’ve been around for 50 years. We have 350 schools like MBRSG and all of them are preparing students for public service. Every 10 years, NASPAA is required to revise our accreditation standards for graduate schools of public policy and public affairs. We have done something quite significant in our 50-year history – we have committed our accreditation process to the SDGs,” she said.

The third UAE Public Policy Forum concluded yesterday (Monday) at the Intercontinental, Dubai Festival City, with the two-day event featuring a packed programme of speeches, discussion panels, presentations and workshops. A highlight on the second day was a keynote address from Professor Jeffrey Sachs Director, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Director at the Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, who joined the forum via video-link from the USA.


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