The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has approved the establishment of a UNESCO chair in marine sciences at the Environmental Science Center, Qatar University.
The UNESCO chair and UNITWIN programs which was launched in 1992, is an initiative to establish chairs in key priority areas related to UNESCO fields of competence to facilitate world-wide collaboration among higher education and research institutes and orient university scholar research around the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. At present, there are around 830 UNESCO chairs in over 110 countries. The chair in marine science is the first of its type in the region. The Science Plan, which is embedded in this awarded proposal, covers the following natural and anthropogenic components related to Arabian Gulf: Arabian Gulf circulation, climate change, sea level rise, Shamal winds and swells, geomorphological changes due to coastal and offshore developments, marine pollution and its management, hypoxia formation & ocean acidification and anthropogenic impacts on the Gulf’s ecosystems.
Dr. Anna Paolini, Director of UNESCO Office in Doha and UNESCO Representative in the Arab States of the Gulf and Yemen has stated that “Promoting international scientific cooperation on critical challenges to sustainable development such as climate change, ocean science and protection of marine ecosystems are some of our key missions in UNESCO. I am glad to see that Qatar University has taken the initiative to foster the scientific collaboration among the universities, private sectors as well research centers in the region through the establishment of this important UNESCO chair in the field of marine science. I’m confident that the chair will not only generate knowledge and expertise but also will help provide local solutions and innovations towards achieving the targets of the SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.
On the other hand, Dr. Hamda Hassan Al-Sulaiti, Secretary General of the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, added that “The establishment of the UNESCO chair with collaboration between UNESCO, Qatar University and colleges and higher education institutions in Qatar came up because of the joined efforts and cooperation between Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, Qatar University and UNESCO Office in Doha. The aim is to benefit from the potentials of the international organization in support and enforcing the national capabilities, in addition to prepare the Qatari cadres to handle and manage the development projects at the upcoming phase”.
Professor Mariam Al-Ali Al-Maadeed, Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies said that the establishment of a UNESCO chair at the Environmental Science Center is a clear indication that it becomes an important research institute in marine sciences in terms of scholars and assets. It is a reward for the excellent and persistent work being carried out in the Center and the steady progress achieved so far. We are encouraging other Centers as well to follow the same path in their research fields.
Professor Sultan Muhesen, Adviser at the Office of the Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies suggested that the UNESCO chair will represent a venue through which, scholars of the Center will have the opportunity to communicate with their peers in other countries.
Commenting on the event, the Director of the Environmental Science Center, Professor Hamad Al-Saad Al-Kuwari said that the marine environment is vital importance to the cultural heritage, economy, and sustenance of Qatar as well as other Gulf countries. Through this UNESCO Chair, studies will be carried out to cover the marine and coastal environs of the Gulf with particular reference to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Qatar in line with SDGs of the 2030 and the Roadmap for the UN Decade of Ocean Science. The objectives of the chair will also contribute to the Economic Growth, Social Development and Environmental Management challenge of the Qatar National Vision 2030 as well as the Energy and Environment pillar of Qatar National Research Strategy and QU National Research Priorities.
The program is endorsed by the UNESCO National Commission in Qatar, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Ministry of Municipality and Environment and Qatar Tourism Authority. The collaborating organizations include 8 prestigious Research Institutes/Universities from 6 countries and Oil & Gas Industries in Qatar.
The UNESCO chair will be used as a vehicle to develop capacity building in Qatar by involving High School/ College/ University students in data collection, analysis, and scientific discussions. Moreover, the coastal stakeholders (traditional fishermen, local community, industries, policymakers, ministries & departments related to ocean, environment and energy, education) will be involved in this program. The programmes of the chair are aiming at providing “A Clean, Healthy, Resilient, Predicted, Safe, Sustainably Harvested, Productive, Transparent and Accessible Arabian Gulf”.