37 delegates from over 17 countries gathered at NYU Abu Dhabi on Jan. 24 to participate in the three-day Global Issues Network conference. The delegates — consisting of high school seniors and undergraduate students — convened in Abu Dhabi to engage in fruitful discourse and to create sustainable action plans that address the most pressing social issues of the 21st century.
The first day kicked off with an opening ceremony and a keynote speaker. The three keynote speakers at the conference were John Sexton, president of NYU; Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, renowned Arab affairs expert; and Carl Wilkens, director of World Outside My Shoes and former head of the Adventist Development Relief Agency in Rwanda. The presentations by keynote speakers were interspersed throughout the three-day conference, and their speeches spurred excitement among the delegates.
The enthusiasm in the conference was evident as working groups called Global Villages devised innovative and practical solutions to issues that included poverty and climate change, among others.
Presentations of the solutions happened in two rounds: First was a fair in which judges could converse with and question the delegates; second, a formal presentation in front of all participants and invited guests. The winning team proposed to convert the humidity in the air into water at the Dubai World Expo 2020. This solution tackles the issue of incessant and environmentally inefficient energy consumption and was lauded for its design, creativity and feasibility.
GIN Director of Registration Brenda Odhingo said there is more to the conference than just the sustainable action plans.
“Another important role GIN plays is simply bringing people together who would otherwise not have met,” she said. “That interaction enriches their thinking of these global issues."
This GIN conference was the second to be held at NYUAD and is a part of a broader network of conferences taking place worldwide. They were partially inspired by former World Bank Vice President Jean-François Rischard and his book, “High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 years to Solve Them.”
Executive Director of GIN 2013 and Operations Team Member for GIN 2014 Junior Ben Jance brought GIN to NYUAD.
“GIN, in general, is really about coming together to take these global issues and, for us at a university level, giving them a little bit of a local flavor,” said Jance. “Instead of taking problems from a global perspective, you localize them … We localize our solutions to make sure that they’re applicable to the local area, to Abu Dhabi.”
Julia Saubier is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]