Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Head of the Office of Development Affairs and Martyrs' Families at the Presidential Court and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), has launched the second edition of WED, a visionary movement uniting the UAE with global multi-disciplinary experts, partners and disruptors driving innovation and advocacy, to catalyse cross sectoral collaboration for early childhood development.

Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, has been appointed as the WED Chair of this groundbreaking movement in its second edition. The announcement was made at a special event held as part of ECA’s participation at COP28 UAE in the presence of Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Erion Velaj, Mayor of the Albanian capital, Tirana; Her Excellency Sana Suhail, Director General of Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority alongside other team members.

At the launch, 13 year old environmental activist Ghaya Al Ahbabi took an active role. Winner of the Environment Award for Children from the Supreme Court of Motherhood and Childhood, Ghaya led an engaging discussion with Mayor of Tirana.

His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: "No nation worldwide can attain comprehensive and sustainable progress without prioritising the early childhood sector. Children stand as the bedrock of the future, embodying the hope for a prosperous tomorrow in any society. Hence, it's imperative to dedicate efforts towards their care and protection, providing a secure and healthy environment for their growth, development, and the acquisition of essential knowledge and skills. Our aim through the WED Movement is to nurture future leaders by fostering this environment. Announced at the Conference of the Parties, Abu Dhabi continues its global initiative, reshaping the early childhood development sector globally in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations." 

Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, reinforced her commitment to placing early childhood development at the top of local and international agendas.

Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy said: "Our collective responsibility to improve the lives of children compels us to take collaborative action. As someone deeply devoted to creating meaningful change, I am very excited about what can be achieved by shifting the narrative to prioritise putting early childhood development at the forefront of the global agenda. While the journey is only just beginning, I am dedicated to utilising my experience and expertise to initiate this transformative shift."

Her Excellency Sana Suhail, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, emphasised the importance of collaboration to create transformative change.

Her Excellency Sana Suhail said: "Creating the right environment for young children to thrive must be a collaborative process that relies on expertise and the experience of the entire ecosystem. WED Movement encourages cross sectoral collaboration between the UAE and global multi-disciplinary experts, partners and disruptors, to inspire innovation and to be a catalyst for sustainable change. It is well placed as an implementation pathway for the early childhood development advocacy we’ve begun here, to create better, more sustainable policies, while mobilising financial support and driving transformative action on the issues that matter most."

The new themes align with Abu Dhabi's ECD sector strategy and consider local and global challenges faced by young children. They were selected following consultation with experts and government stakeholders.

The following themes include: Intentional Parenting, which aims to empower parents in their journey of raising young children by fostering holistic development through personalised support; Culture and Identity, emphasising the importance of nurturing social cohesion and preserving children’s heritage and identity and Sustainable and Family-friendly Cities, which focuses on revolutionising urban development to prioritise young children, fostering health, social unity, and climate resilience.

Ghaya, an Emirati UNICEF Youth Advocate and Founder of the Green Buds Community, engaged Mayor Velaj in an insightful conversation about Tirana’s transformation to become a child-friendly city. Mayor Velaj highlighted shared goals for inclusive urban spaces, emphasising curiosity and creativity from experiences with children, bridging the UAE and Tirana.

Naila, from the Green Buds Community, moderated an interactive session with Her Excellency Sana Suhail, Her Excellency Hessa Tahlak, Mayor Velaj, alongside young children from Abu Dhabi City and Al Dhafra region. The children expressed their visions for smart, clean and sustainable cities and showcased their prototypes developed during their recent involvement in the WED Children’s Discovery Workshop.

WED Movement facilitates dialogue, knowledge exchange, and action through a bi-annual program comprising the WED Innovation Lab, a Children’s Fun Run, a new Research Conference and a WED Output Showcase event.

The programme culminates with the WED Forum, a knowledge stage that unites policymakers, experts, practitioners and stakeholders from across sectors to discuss trends, strategies, policies and actionable solutions. Slated for October 2024 in Abu Dhabi, the event will also spotlight tangible outcomes from the multi-disciplinary experts joining this edition.

Led by WED’s multi-disciplinary experts, the movement addresses future challenges and opportunities in early childhood development through the co-creation of knowledge and the conception and implementation of innovative outputs.

Key figures including Parc Sen Loke (China) at the Centre for Fathering , Samuel Veissiere (Canada) from CIUSSS West-Central Montreal; Reem Al Mansouri (UAE) of Bani and AI Culture,  Natalia Krysiak (New Zealand) from Cities for Play and Sophia Schuff (Denmark) of Gehl will spearhead discussions across the themes, joined by more experts to be announced, driving the movement’s mission.

In this edition, experts will focus on critical areas, within a comprehensive framework aimed at fostering optimal development in young children. Starting at the Innovation Lab in January, they will work alongside partners to identify issues, brainstorm solutions and develop implementation strategies, concluding with the presentation of final outputs, prototypes and findings at the WED Forum in Abu Dhabi.

As a result of the first edition of the WED Movement, ECA, in partnership with New York University of Abu Dhabi is implementing two key outputs developed in collaboration with 16 global multi-disciplinary experts.

ECA aims to promote, advocate and elicit cross-sectoral collaboration to help Abu Dhabi’s young children achieve their full potential in a safe and family-friendly nurturing environment.