The event, which took place at the CERT Technology Park, Higher Colleges of Technology-Abu Dhabi Men’s College premises, was a part of the University’s educational series entitled The Strathclyde Dialogues. These debates cover difficult issues faced by society and the management profession in a globalized environment. They provide a forum for experts to look into issues from different viewpoints. The event sparked a dynamic discussion around the three pillars of sustainability, namely, economic, environmental and social and helped to raise awareness on these issues with hundreds of Emirati university students.
Represented on the panel were Dr. Mazen Ramsay Najjar, Principal at Booz & Company based in the Middle East; Dr. Richard Perry, Programme Manager of the Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030 at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi; and Ruba Yousef Al Hassan, Social Development Advisor at the General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi Emirate. Facilitating the discussion was Eva Ramos, Senior Sustainability Specialist at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.
The discussion began with the panellists outlining the current tensions in the sustainability dialogue all over the world. They then highlighted tendencies of organizations to work in silos rather than across sectors and they urged a move towards more inter-sectoral dialogue.
Dr. Najjar said that economic sustainability requires diversity in the economic activities of nations, prudent fiscal and monetary policies and the right industrial climate for the development of a desirable mix of industries. Dr. Perry highlighted the urgent need to consider environmental issues in all our decisions, stressing the need to consider the Earth’s carrying capacity and ensure that development kept within the bounds of what the earth could support. He added that exceeding this would set off “tipping points” that might result in run-away climatic change.
Finally, Ms. Al Hassan said that social sustainability is about ensuring the well-being of people, was at the heart of sustainability. She pointed out that both economic and environmental factors though critically important, are both means to an end rather than ends in themselves, and that sustainability’s goal is to protect the wellbeing of people and future generations. Ms. Al Hassan suggested that social sustainability should be the pivot for the overall sustainability dialogue.
The discussion attracted over 120 participants including university students, representatives from the government and private sector as well as members of the public. The next two events in the series of the “The Strathclyde Dialogues” will take place on May 20 and 21, 2011 in Dubai. The topics planned are “40 Years On, Should Marketing be about Meeting Societal Aspirations or Generating Profits?” and “How Can We Bridge the Gap between Marketing Theory and Practice?” respectively. The events would form part of the 40th year celebration of the founding of the Marketing Department of The Strathclyde Business School.
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