The second edition of EmTech MENA kicked off recently at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Organised by Dubai Future Foundation, the conference showcases emerging technologies with the greatest potential to impact lives, inspire the future and drive the new global economy.
The event runs until today under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Dubai Future Foundation. EmTech MENA has convened over 30 high-profile government officials, experts, academics, entrepreneurs and futurists from around the world.
Addressing the crowd on the topic of energy and sustainability, Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan said: “Anthropogenic carbon emissions, which are 48% above pre-industrial levels, currently exceed the amounts that nature can cope with. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with on average 200 species becoming extinct every single day. The species we are losing cannot be replaced by technology, so how do we stop this tragedy? Is it possible that we can curb climate change in the next 10 years through innovation and engagement?”
Sheikha Shamma added: “Sustainability is the driver of innovation, but it is up to people like us to drive the change. Everything is connected on planet Earth. All living beings require food and water, both of which are dependent on the climate. A healthy biosphere is important to our health and thus to our survival. The interconnectivity of the world is inevitable, and moving away from silo thinking to systemic thinking is imperative, especially in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.”
Sheikha Shamma continued to praise companies that are making a difference to the circular economy: “Pluumo is using feather waste instead of polystyrene to insulate perishable goods. Loop has a new business model to redesign packaging moving away from single-use plastics. Worn Again Technologies can separate polyester from natural fibres in clothes and reuse them in support of a more circular economy.”
In closing, Sheikha Shamma noted that radical changes must be made to the current global social and economic models, and that it is imperative to place sustainability at the heart of all decisions to ensure a prosperous future for the next generations. She expressed her faith in the UAE’s capacity to drive change and redefine the status quo, but stressed that it requires a collaborative effort to make a difference.
Technology has changed the way people live and work. Historically, organisations have looked to technology primarily to increase efficiency and cut back on expenses. While there is still value in using technology for purpose, we now also have a different opportunity – to use technology for impact.