Illustration by Ahmed Bilal

Student Energy Summit Is Coming to NYUAD

Revisiting the recent achievements and advocacy in the energy sector and discussing Taaqa SIG's preparation for the Student Energy Summit in November 2022.

For many years now, the UAE has served as a host for many summits and events critical to global conversations on climate action and energy transition. We are proud that NYU Abu Dhabi will contribute to this effort by hosting the Student Energy Summit, the largest youth-led event focused on energy issues in the world.
Student Energy Summit (SES) is a biennial conference that has been taking place since 2009 and has gathered thousands of youth from over 100 countries to collaborate and take action on energy. Every two years, student groups from various universities around the world submit their bids to host the event at their institution and Student Energy, a Canada-based non-profit organization, selects one of the organizing committees to spearhead the conference. Taaqa SIG submitted the bid earlier this year and, after a competitive review process, has been invited to organize the summit in 2023.
Previous summits were held in Canada, Norway, Mexico, Indonesia and the UK. The last summit in 2019 in London gathered 650 participants from 98 countries. Speakers at these events included ministers, executives of multinational energy companies and leading youth activists. Bringing young people and decision-makers together at one table is at the core of Student Energy’s theory of change towards more sustainable and equitable energy systems. Now, SES is coming for the first time to the Middle East, a region that has been critical to the global energy system for many decades.
The summit will be held under the theme of Reimagining the Future with the goal of creating a sustainable outlook for the energy transition by connecting today's youth with energy sector leaders to inspire the change-makers of tomorrow. The organizing committee aims to work with local and global partners to empower a new generation of leaders in the energy sector, highlighting the success story and vision of the UAE’s energy transition. SES 2023 has already received endorsement from the key stakeholders in the country, and its Advisory Board includes representatives of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Masdar, IRENA and ADNOC.
SES 2023 will take place at the margins of COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference, which will take place in Dubai in November 2023. Presenting and winning the bid to host COP is a testimony to the UAE’s continued commitment to global conversations on climate action. In addition to annual platforms, such as the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and Dubai’s World Green Economy Summit, that have become widely recognized spaces within the sustainability sector, the UAE served as a space for important UN conferences in the past.
In July 2019, the country hosted the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting in preparation for the UN Climate Action Summit, and in February 2020, the capital served as the venue for the UN’s World Urban Forum. Bringing the Student Energy Summit, a prime youth-focused global conference, to the UAE will be the next step in furthering the country's climate action and youth empowerment agendas.
“Because the UAE is working towards net zero, towards many sustainability goals, and it is a hub for [the] energy [sector], but at the same time because of its reliance on the oil and gas industry, this is the time for when change will happen,” said Mira Aljallaf, Class of 2023, Co-Chair of SES 2023, highlighting the unique circumstances that make the UAE a worthy destination for the summit. “New ideas and innovation can be applied for the shift and transition to renewable energy,” she added.
SES 2023 will be the largest event to be ever at NYUAD campus. With over 650 students and speakers expected to attend the conference over the course of three days, it will be an opportunity to showcase the achievements of the university in meeting sustainability goals for NYUAD students to engage in this unique forum. As of now, the opportunities on campus available for students interested in pursuing careers in energy transition are limited. With the exception of a few core courses, such as “Oil” or “Global Debate on Green Growth”, there have been no technical or non-technical courses offered in the last few semesters that focus on either conventional or renewable energy technologies. Similarly, the existing research centers or labs deal with the topic of energy generation technologies only tangentially. SES 2023 will hopefully provide inspiration to fill this gap, given the clear student interest in this topic and the importance of energy transition to meeting the global and local climate goals.
SES 2023 was launched on Oct. 26, and a few hundred people pre-registered on the website within the first day. From now on, the SES 2023 movement will continue to grow through virtual engagements and outreach to universities in the UAE and beyond. This is an exciting opportunity for NYUAD students and the university to showcase leadership on one of the world’s most pressing issues.
Beniamin Strzelecki is a Columnist. Email him at
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