HBKU Inaugurates UNESCO Chair on Environmental Law, Sustainable Development

HBKU Inaugurates UNESCO Chair on Environmental Law, Sustainable Development

10 Oct 2022

HBKU’s UNESCO Chair to prioritize research, training, partnerships, and dialogue across the MENA region

HBKU Inaugurates UNESCO Chair on Environmental Law, Sustainable Development

Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) officially launched the UNESCO Chair on Environmental Law and Sustainable Development on October 5. The inaugural Chairholder, Dr. Damilola S. Olawuyi (SAN), Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the HBKU College of Law, presented his first lecture setting out his vision for the Chair. 

The high-level launch also featured keynote speeches by Qatari officials as well as senior UNESCO representatives and a panel discussion with foremost experts on environmental law and sustainability.

In his inaugural lecture, Dr. Olawuyi said: “The UNESCO Chair at HBKU will be at the forefront of galvanizing multi-stakeholder cooperation and partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals in Qatar and beyond for the next several decades. Technological innovations and changes in key economic sectors and industries in response to climate change, pandemics, and other environmental and social pressures, offer a broad scope for much needed future research. As the inaugural Chairholder, my aim is to develop, train, and equip homegrown policy leaders capable of steering the continuous implementation of environment and sustainable development instruments in the region.”

The launch commenced with an opening speech by Dr. Michael J. Benedik, HBKU Provost, Mr. Salah Khaled, Director, UNESCO Doha Office for Gulf States and Yemen, and Sheikha Aisha Bint Mubarak Al Thani, Head of the UNESCO Department, Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, Ministry of Education and Higher Education. 

In his remarks, Dr. Benedik said: “Sustainable development is an area where research frontiers must expand to reflect the nature of the challenges and opportunities facing our societies. Some are particular to the Middle East region and HBKU is uniquely placed through our partnerships to give the UNESCO Chair visibility to engage with important stakeholders.” 

In addition, Mr. Salah Khaled said: “We congratulate the Chairholder, Professor Damilola Olawuyi, and members of the HBKU College of Law for their tremendous work and effort for putting together an excellent research program. We are very keen on working together and identifying ways to strengthen our collaboration to advance knowledge and localize solutions in the field of environmental law and sustainability.”

Keynote addresses reflected on emerging challenges and the need to strengthen research, education, and knowledge dissemination. Eminent speakers included HE Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Muraikhi, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General, HE Dr. Saleh bin Mohammad Al Nabit, President of the Planning and Statistics Authority and Former Minister of Development Planning and Statistics, and HE Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al Sada, Chairman of the Joint Advisory Board and Adjunct Professor, Texas A&M University and Former Minister for Energy and Industry. Other eminent participants included HE Yakubu Abdullahi Ahmed, Ambassador of Nigeria to Qatar, and HE Francois Junior Guillaume, Ambassador of Haiti to Qatar.

A panel discussion, chaired by HBKU College of Law Dean Susan L. Karamanian, demonstrated the Chair’s role in bringing together national and regional stakeholders to encourage evidence-based decision making. Dr. Fatema Hassan Al Sulaiti, Director of International Cooperation, Qatar Museums, Engineer Meshal M. Al-Shamari, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives and Stakeholder Engagement, Earthna, and Dr. Darina Saliba Abi Chedid, Director of the UNESCO International Center for Human Sciences (CISH), Lebanon, spoke on the panel. 

After the event, Dean Karamanian said: “The launch of the UNESCO Chair marks the long-term commitment of HBKU and the College of Law to fostering knowledge-intensive capacity to advance sustainable development. Leaders from key institutions in Qatar, along with United Nations officials, reaffirmed the importance of this objective. Their expressed support of the work of the UNESCO Chair was reassuring as at the heart of Dr. Olawuyi’s work will be his engagement with stakeholders.”

Established in 2022, the HBKU UNESCO Chair is a center of excellence that promotes research, training, public dialogue, partnerships, and international and regional cooperation on environmental law as a tool for advancing sustainable development in Qatar and the MENA region. Programs include fellowships, visiting professorships, lecture series, conferences, research publications, and specialized degree and certificate programs in partnership with the College of Law and HBKU Executive Education Center. 

For more information on the UNESCO Chair, please visit hbku.edu.qa/en/cl/UNESCOchair and for more on the initiatives and programs at the College of Law, please visit cl.hbku.edu.qa.