Zayed University students take part in Cop28 preview in Cairo

More than 60 students simulate real-world climate negotiations during UN-backed youth conference

Zayed University students taking part in the second stage of the Cop28 Simulation Model in Cairo this week. Photo: Zayed University
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Students from Zayed University taking part in a Cop28 Simulation Model said the youth-led conference represents the optimism of Emirati youth.

The UN-backed conference brings together students from all over the world to a mock Cop28, which provides them with a platform to share practical solutions for climate action.

The Cop28 simulation was launched in collaboration with the British University in Egypt, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Zayed University. It's in its second edition and consists of three stages.

We are at a state where our world needs to change
Salama Sultan Alshamsi, 21, Zayed University

About 65 residents and citizens from the UAE were selected to take part, with 29 students from Zayed University.

The first stage, which took place between September 30 and October 15, was an online building programme that focused on climate literacy, where participants were assigned topics and research projects in a two-week period.

The second stage, taking place this week at the British University in Egypt, requires students to simulate real-world climate negotiations by taking on the roles of country delegates and chief negotiators.

The third stage will be held at Cop28 in Dubai's Expo City in December where students will be presented with their results.

The programme attracted more than 3,000 applications from around the world, and students were chosen based on their grade point average, language skills, community involvement, awareness of climate issues and social activities.

Moza Salem Alharrasi, 19, who studies environmental science and sustainability at Zayed University, was one of 160 students chosen to take part.

She told The National that she was excited to engage in discussions and negotiations during the second stage of the simulation in Cairo.

"It represents the spirit of optimism of every Emirati youth," she said.

"It's a chance to collaborate with others in finding practical solutions to the pressing global issue of climate change."

Another student, Salama Sultan Alshamsi, said the role of youth fighting climate change is important.

"We are at a state where our world needs to change," the 21-year-old said.

"What better way than by the newer generations growing and fighting, as well as coming together to share ideas and fight for what is needed to maintain and solve the problems we face."

Mahra Almazrouei, 21, who studies international relations, said she was particularly excited to be taking part in the second stage in Egypt this week, which concludes on Sunday.

"I can't wait to reunite with the students I connected with during the capacity-building sessions," she said, ahead of the activities.

"The organising team for the simulation has been exceptionally supportive, professional and well organised."

Dr Suzanna El Massah, professor of economics and sustainability at Zayed University's College of Interdisciplinary Studies and project manager of the Cop28 Simulation Model, said many of her former students who took part in last year's simulation have gone on to become successful public figures fighting for climate action.

"Three Emirati students and three international students that took part in the simulation last year are completely different people from how they were before the simulation. They are now public figures," she told The National.

"The simulation paves the way for normal people living their lives to find ways to implement climate action and to also understand what the big names are discussing.

"We expect these students to become the decision-makers and leaders of the future by simulating what actual high-level people from different countries are negotiating about."

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Updated: November 12, 2023, 3:30 AM