The two-day conference kicked off with an opening remark by KAUST President Dr. Tony Chan followed by a large number of speakers from the university and prominent guests.
The speakers included Eng. Anas Al-Mudaifer, CEO of Human Capability Development Program, Mishaal AlRasheed, chief strategy officer, Quality of Life Program, and Raed Albaseet, chief environment and sustainability officer, TRSDC & Amaala.
"KAUST promotes sustainability powered by science and technology," said Dr. Larry Carin, KAUST provost.
“For more than a decade, our Saudi students have played a central role in driving the university’s commitment to sustainability — on our campus, in our national engagement, and in our global endeavors.
“The new Saudi Youth for Sustainability group is a natural evolution and reflection of the passion we see every day in not only KAUST students, but in the next generation of young Saudis across the Kingdom.
“KAUST is proud to support Saudi students’ vision for their future as we work together to make sustainability a reality accessible to all.”
Commenting on the Saudi Youth for Sustainability Inaugural Conference, Dr. Najah Ashry said, “KAUST is honored and proud to have our students help champion sustainability in the Kingdom through such a forum.
“The role of the youth in realizing SDG goals is instrumental, and engaging the youth to ideate, develop, promote and implement solutions to sustainability challenges in the Kingdom will both accelerate progress towards sustainability objectives and strengthen the impact of the Kingdom’s efforts overall.
“Given the shifting demographics in the Kingdom, with the youth currently representing approximately 70% of the population, it is paramount to empower the youth to advance national sustainability.
“We look forward to building on the ideas and dialog that took place during the conference, and remain committed to supporting the Saudi Youth for Sustainability community to engage with government, industry and academic stakeholders across the Kingdom involved with the national sustainability agenda.
“We would also aim to help develop strengthen the skills and capabilities of the community to provide them with the knowledge and tools to become sustainability leaders.
“With the support and involvement of the youth, we firmly believe that the Kingdom can best realize the SDG goals, as well as the ambition and objectives of the Saudi Green Initiative.”
SYS2022 also included several discussion panels, some of the key ones were:
• Leading Change Towards Vision 2030
• The New Wave of Sustainability in Saudi Arabia’s Giga Projects
• Sustainability: a Life Journey, not a Destination
• Re-imagining the Role of Education in Sustainability
• Young leaders in Sustainability
Many experts and professionals from various sectors in the Kingdom, as well as officials and researchers from KAUST, participated in these discussion panels, in addition to many workshops, Interactive events and campus tours that aimed to connect young leaders and drive positive changes towards a more sustainable future.
Approximately 300 students from the Kingdom’s universities and 150 impact supporters attended SYS2022.
This year’s annual conference theme was "Thriving Together," and explored how Saudi youth can be active contributors to Vision 2030 and sustainability goals for the Kingdom and the world by promoting social responsibility, education, technology, and innovation.
SYS2022 organizing committee estimated that young people would face the worst consequences in the near future with the lack of awareness and increased harmful environmental impacts.
However, instead of being victims, young people are taking action to fight for a more sustainable and vibrant future on an unprecedented scale.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is undergoing a historic shift towards a prosperous future.
Saudi youth have a tremendous opportunity to harness their energies and invest their skills to participate in the most ambitious economic, social and environmental transformation.
Iman Al-Hajji, president of Students for Sustainability at KAUST, commented: "We aspire to expand this youth momentum to other local and regional universities.
“By establishing this society, we aim to connect with other young change-makers from Saudi Arabia to develop novel approaches to tackle persisting critical issues and initiate a network that will unite our forces together.
“We want to raise our voice to policy makers to meet the younger generation’s demand of sustainable development. We need to act collectively now! Let’s thrive together for the better."