In November 2022, KAUST participated in the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, as it did in the 2021 edition in Glasgow. The event was divided into three designated zones: the Blue Zone, Green Zone, and Climate Action’s Innovation Zone. Each zone offered different opportunities to network and share perspectives with people from different sectors of society around the world committed to climate action — from heads of state and corporate leaders to climate activists and academic peers.
The Climate Action Innovation Zone was one of the most engaging zones of COP27. At the KAUST booth, visitors could learn about the university’s climate-driven research across five action areas: 1) Climate action; 2) Renewable and low-carbon energy; 3) Sustainable water management; 4) Enhancing ecosystems; and 5) Sustainable food and resource circularity. The booth featured interactive touchscreens that were popular with guests of all kinds, from students to CEOs. The Office of Sustainability staff engaged with visitors and discussed the university’s work.
As the Kingdom showed its dedication and involvement in combatting climate change alongside the rest of the world, it organized the Saudi Green Initiative (SDGI) Forum concurrently with COP 27. KAUST faculty, students, staff, and leaders engaged in panels, presentations, exhibits, and related activities at all zones of COP27 and the SGI Forum, promoting the university and its projects, leveraging expertise, and exploring new points of collaboration in areas such as carbon capture and storage, food security and desert agriculture, water conservation, blue carbon solutions, and coral reef restoration.
COP27 was billed as the “implementation COP”. After years of meetings and agreements, the stakes were very high, and there was a global expectation for the private and public sectors to work together to solve pressing global problems. KAUST President Tony Chan echoed this call in an impassioned plea to audiences as part of The Sustainable Innovation Forum’s panel, “Bold Leadership: Embracing Collaboration and Competition”.
“With a global challenge like climate change, we cannot be siloed; we must partner with people,” Chan said. “It’s not about competition — it’s about cooperation between countries, universities, and other sectors. […] We need to find agreement in the end.”
Read KAUST’s full participation at COP27 here.