‘We are witnessing firsthand that progress towards meeting many of the objectives of the SDGs is being strengthened significantly by small scale entrepreneurs, SMEs and social enterprises, and it is being driven by women who play and have always played a vastly significant role in MENA agriculture. We cannot address opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation and investment in the agricultural sectors without first duly recognising the pivotal role of women as key contributors to rural economies worldwide.’ – Haifa Al Kaylani, President & Founder of the Arab International Women’s Forum, speaking at the ‘Regional Workshop on Science Diplomacy for the Arab Region’ workshop hosted by Bibliotheca Alexandrina on 24-25 October 2023. This very special event brought together academia, policy makers, and private sector stakeholders to explore the growing role of and increasing opportunities in the science academies, regional/intergovernmental institutions and their supporting organisations in fostering science diplomacy.
Science diplomacy has an important role to play in addressing cross-border challenges which no one country can face alone, such as public health, environmental, energy, water, and food security, and other challenges. Haifa Al Kaylani was therefore delighted to take part in a key panel titled ‘The Importance of Science Diplomacy and Scientific Excellence in the Arab Region: Means for Sustainable Development’, alongside:
Dr Nuria Sanz, Director, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in the Arab States, Cluster Office for Egypt and Sudan and UNESCO Representative in Egypt (Egypt)
Dr Peter McGrath, Co-ordinator, InterAcademy Partnership and the TWAS Science Policy/Science Diplomacy programme (Italy)
Dr Tarek Sadek, Climate Change and Natural Resource Sustainability Cluster, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) (Lebanon)
The session aimed to shed light on how science diplomacy can contribute to the region development at different levels and sectors. In her remarks, she shared her thoughts and insights on the important role of innovation in addressing food and water security challenges in the MENA region and how innovation – and specifically, how women, youth, technology and entrepreneurship – are the gamechangers for sustainable development as we inch ever closer to the 2030 SDGs watershed.
Haifa has had the pleasure of addressing the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in the past and it is always indeed an honour to engage with this respected and greatly revered research institution. We are proud at AIWF of our longstanding relationship with Bibliotheca Alexandrina and we look forward to supporting their valuable initiatives on STEM, sustainability and science diplomacy into the future.