The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi has launched the Community of the Future initiative at its fifth edition of the Social Innovation Talks (SITalks) series. The series is a forum that aims to foster dialogue on social innovation to explore innovative solutions that can improve the quality of life for communities.

SITalks was held at the Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Centre and was attended by His Excellency Awaidha Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, His Excellency Hamad Ali Al Dhaheri, Undersecretary of the DCD, as well as Mohamed Al Zaabi, Group CEO of Miral.

The Community of the Future initiative aims to support Abu Dhabi’s ongoing sustainable development efforts. The initiative also aligns with the UAE’s Year of Sustainability strategy and in anticipation of COP28. The initiative aims to enhance students’ thinking and analysis of the environmental, social and economic challenges facing societies, in addition to contributing to providing innovative solutions that enhance sustainable development.

The initiative includes activities designed to foster a culture of sustainability, promote social responsibility and inspire the youth. It achieved this through a series of interactive workshops that saw the participation of more than 50 students and 10 guides, representing six educational and academic institutions in Abu Dhabi.

The students demonstrated five models and formulated a policy that includes more than 10 proposals in line with sustainability standards and societal values. The students' ideas were refined through their active participation in the workshops that were organised at Khalifa University and Yas SeaWorld Research and Rescue Centre.

Her Excellency Shaikha Alhosani, Executive Director of the Social Monitoring and Innovation Sector at DCD, said: “As we approach COP28, sustainability and the ways in which we incorporate it into our societies and communities has gained even more importance than ever before. Through hosting SITalks and the Community of the Future initiative, we are committed to facilitating these crucial discussions and engaging esteemed experts, thought leaders, social entrepreneurs and future leaders, the youth.

“We affirm our commitment to enhancing the role of these dialogues by engaging international experts, thought leaders, specialists in the social field, future leaders and youth. We want to inspire them to come up with ideas and visions about creating an overarching culture of sustainability and building a sustainable society that ensures a decent life for future generations. Additionally, we want to inspire active student participation through the Community of the Future initiative. This represents a very important opportunity that helps enhance innovation and creativity among these exceptional young people and instils a culture of cooperation and the values of cohesion, inclusiveness, flexibility and responsibility.”

SITalks aims to foster collaboration across diverse sectors to effectively solve and overcome societal challenges through social innovation in new strategies, ideas and organisations. The dialogues are aimed at fulfilling the social needs of various sectors that work to promote and strengthen civil society, all while keeping in mind the global surge in interest in social innovation and a shared goal of contributing to sustainable economic growth.