Community resilience and the importance of a cohesive society were discussed during a global panel hosted by Sheikh Dheyab bin Zayed.
He spoke of the importance of mutual co-operation in the third Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Ramadan Majlis.
“We live, nowadays, in complex societies with complicated challenges that require innovation, outside-of-the-box thinking, and innovative solutions in order to solve social problems in the labour, commercial and economic sectors," he said.
"We cannot pretend that these solutions are easy to find or that they will always be successful.
"These problems undoubtedly require smart, devoted and co-operating individuals and societies to find solutions for these challenges."
Titled ‘For the Greater Good: Innovations for More Resilient Global Communities,’ the virtual majlis also included Salama Al Ameemi, director general of the Authority of Social Contribution, known as Ma’an, Sir Geoff Mulgan, professor of collective intelligence, public policy and social innovation at University College London and Fadi Ghandour, co-founder of Aramex and executive chairman of Wamda Group.
Discussions centred on how to bolster community resilience to ensure society is equipped to withstand and recover from adversity.
The panellists considered strong social bonds between the government and its people as key to this resilience, and underscored the role of the private sector and civil organisations.
A compassionate government is also an important tool in creating a sense of belonging in its citizens, said Ms Al Ameemi, who said that what distinguished the UAE was that its social contract included compassion, in addition to constitutional rights.
But this social contract is not merely a one-way process from the government.
“Social resilience requires contribution and engagement from society," she added.
"This is why the Department of Community Development was established in 2018.
"The main mission of the Department is to provide a decent life for all members of the community, and that social responsibility is not only the responsibility of the government.
"It should be a shared responsibility between the government, the private sector, and the third sector, which is the community members and civil community organisations.”
How the private sector can help build a sense of community
Contributing to the conversation, businessman Mr Ghandour highlighted the important role of private companies in supporting communities.
“The private sector has a key role in society beyond its core business, whether commercial services, processing or production,” he said.
"When we talk about social entrepreneurship there must be integration and joint efforts between the two sectors – as we call it the ‘community sector’ and the ‘business sector’ – to come up with solutions to challenges facing society.
"[Thus] we can utilise the available skills and capabilities of the private sector, such as team working, investing, finding solutions with entrepreneurial thinking.”
From an academic view, Sir Geoff spoke of the need for governments to plan for every eventuality.
“I've always been fascinated why some societies are so resilient they can withstand a war, a financial shock, a pandemic and bounce back, where others are brittle and vulnerable,” he said.
"I think some of the answers lie with what governments do.
"The best governments protect people from the risks they can't protect themselves from.
"And they look ahead. They scan for possible threats. They prepare, they plan, they do simulations.”
In his view, the greatest challenges likely to be faced by the UAE will stem from rising global temperatures due to climate change.
This, Sir Geoff said, could lead to challenges in managing a society in a region such as the Gulf.
Nevertheless, his view was that the UAE was well placed in terms of capability to respond.
The virtual Ramadan series, held each Monday during the holy month, aims to promote learning and reflection.
The final majlis will take place next week.