The Department of Community Development (DCD), the regulator of the social sector in Abu Dhabi, has organised the second edition of the Third Sector Forum, which was held at the Rixos Hotel in Saadiyat Island.

The second edition has strengthened cross-sector partnerships and driven coordinated efforts in addressing crucial social challenges within the emirate.

The Third Sector Forum witnessed by Her Excellency Shamma Bint Suhail Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the DCD; Her Excellency Hessa Buhumaid, Director General of the Community Development Authority in Dubai; Sheikha Dr. Shamma bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan Institutions; His Excellency Eng. Hamad Ali Al Dhaheri, Undersecretary of the of Department of Community Development,  Her Excellency Maryam Mohammed Al Rumaithi, Director General of the Family Development Foundation; His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, Secretary General of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Her Excellency Sarah Ibrahim Shuhail, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Center for Shelter and Humanitarian Care – Ewaa, Her Excellency Salama Al Ameemi, Director General of Authority of Social Contribution - Ma'an, Her Excellency Dr. Bushra Al Mulla, Director General of The Family Care Authority; His Excellency Ghanim Mubarak Al Hajeri, Director General - Al Ain Zoo.

Also in attendance were representatives from the government, private sector, companies, and third sector representation including non-profit organisations’ leaders and board members, and social enterprises, among others.

In a speech delivered virtually, Her Excellency Shamma Bint Suhail Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, said: "The third sector of non-profit public associations & NGO’s has its distinguishing strength and teamwork spirit. The most beautiful thing about the third sector is that it is based on partnerships, teamwork and mutual giving. It also has the ability to transform any group into a working team with shared visions and goals, and an existing idea and tangible action into reality."

"The concept of the current situation today does not meet the ambitions of a country that always strives for the top. Today, our mission as a team is to unite our efforts through this forum to reimagine the sector in a new way that we have not previously imagined to come up with results and recommendations that can have an impact on supporting and developing the collaborative work system between the third sector, government sector and private sector; any success in the third sector would contribute to the success of all sectors.”

Her Excellency Shamma Bint Suhail Al Mazrui also pointed out that the UAE has all the constituents for success, and uniting efforts and contribution will leave a sustainable impact that forms the foundation for building and developing the community.

His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the DCD, emphasised the importance of continuing to organise the Third Sector Forum on a regular basis, given the important role that third sector institutions and entities play in promoting comprehensive and sustainable growth through the integration of efforts between all relevant sectors. He also said that cooperation is the integrated framework that enables the harmonious collaboration of all parties to achieve desired goals, which include social welfare and national development.

His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili said: "We will continue to empower and support all sectors to participate and contribute effectively to society, in order to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as an ideal destination where its people enjoy a decent quality of life. This will be achieved through the integration of roles, providing opportunities that enable everyone to perform their duties towards society, thus creating a pioneering and distinguished social system at local and regional levels."

Her Excellency Hessa Buhumaid, Director General of the Community Development Authority in Dubai, said that the forum was important as it provides a platform for discussions on how to develop and harness the role of the third sector in supporting community development projects and plans. Her Excellency pointed out that in addition to the various programmes and services the third sector offers, which integrate with government projects, it constitutes a channel through which communication and cooperation between various segments of society and government agencies is enhanced.

Her Excellency Hessa Buhumaid said: "The contribution of the third sector to development programmes and plans constitutes one of the basic pillars of sustainable development and provides a comprehensive community solution to regulate the role and efforts of non-profit institutions, volunteers and public benefit institutions within the general framework of the national strategy. This is done in a way that ensures positive and sustainable change for society and enhances the outcomes of community development in the immediate term as well as the long term."

In her speech, Sheikha Dr. Shamma bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan Institutions, emphasised the importance of the third sector that enhances the capacities of society. Sheikha Dr. Shamma bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan referred to the distinctive participation of Emirati women in community work, under the patronage and interest of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak (Mother of the Nation), Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF).

Sheikha Dr. Shamma bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan also emphasised the vital role of the third sector in supporting social issues, as well as the leadership's support in achieving change and development in society's relationship with many important issues affecting society and consolidating the power of community security.

His Excellency Mohamed Helal Al Balooshi, Executive Director of the Community Engagement and Sports Sector at DCD, said: "The second edition of the forum is another opportunity to unite the efforts of third sector institutions, in line with Abu Dhabi’s directions and commitment to promoting a comprehensive and sustainable social sector that is centred around results and impact, and the goal of achieving a decent life for all members of society."

"The DCD, as the body responsible for regulating the social sector, is keen to support and empower the third sector and enhance its vital role in our society, while also addressing social challenges and priorities and providing successful solutions to them. The second edition of the forum will help draw the roadmap of the journey ahead by enhancing cooperation and partnerships, and facilitating the exchange of knowledge, ideas and visions. This will effectively unify efforts and direct them towards long-term improvements on the quality of life."

The forum highlighted the role of the Authority of Social Contribution - Ma'an in supporting and empowering the third sector and its institutions through an integrated programme that includes training and development opportunities. In addition to that, the Authority of Social Contribution - Ma'an provides vital resources to empower and support institutions so they can contribute to addressing important priorities and achieving positive and sustainable impact that benefits members of the Abu Dhabi community.

The forum held awareness sessions on corporate social responsibility, targeting representatives from third sector, which were presented by Al Dar, Etihad Airways, and TAQA. Workshops on the three themes included: community integration of People of Determination, environmental sustainability and activation of the third sector.

Abu Dhabi has many third-sector entities, which are Public Interest Associations, classified under various sectors, including civil institutions, humanitarian institutions, communities, solidarity funds, public and cultural institutions, folk arts, theatre, and professional bodies, in addition social enterprises that serve social inclusion, technological, environmental and educational purposes and more.