Dubai –: The Swiss Pavilion in partnership with the swissnex Network has recently launched the Swiss – Middle East Circular Economy for Youth Initiative (SMECEYI). This initiative aims at bringing together students from universities across the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Occupied Palestinian Territory to develop unique and innovative solutions for a cleaner environment, promoting the circular economy and encouraging youth empowerment.
The objective of the SMECEYI is to serve as a framework to enhance bilateral relations between Switzerland and the region in terms of education, research and innovation. This initiative supports the Swiss Pavilion towards developing a network of innovators ahead of Expo 2020. This community will then connect in a stronger way during the Expo, discussing technological and societal advancements to favour the transition towards a more sustainable economy.
Mr. Dante Larini, project manager of the swissnex Network at the Swiss Pavilion, said: “The SMECEYI is a key example of how the Swiss Pavilion is turning the challenging situation linked to the postponement of Expo into an opportunity. Thanks to this extended time, we are able to develop a stronger link with local innovative institutions. This community, which we are growing is going to be a strong pillar behind the success of swissnex at Expo 2020 Dubai, whose mission is to connect the dots in education, research and innovation between Switzerland and the Middle East.”
In this framework, multiple exchanges are taking place between 15 teams of students from universities across the region who are working together with Swiss counterparts, students and professors, to develop real-life project ready for implementation.
On the UAE side, 6 projects from the University of Zayed, New York University Abu Dhabi and the UAE University are being developed. These range from reusing plastic crates to designing elegant kindergarten chairs to a complex multidisciplinary waste water treatment research proposal. On the Swiss side, students and researchers from more than 10 universities are supporting the teams thanks to their expertise in plastic, food waste, used water, urban mining and environmental sciences. Overall, the SMECEYI is involving over 130 people who want to make a difference for the environment and society, all connected thanks to virtual communication software. From her side, Ilze Loza, Assistant Professor in Zayed University, College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, said: “Swiss-Middle East Circular Youth Initiative is an excellent opportunity for students from Zayed University – College of Arts and Creative Enterprises to be exposed to international project and collaboration. During the project development, students had mentors from top universities of Switzerland, and gained a lot of skills and knowledge in project evaluation, international communication as well as the importance of sustainable design in UAE and the world.”
The finalists will be hosted at the Swiss Pavilion during Expo 2020 and their solutions celebrated as the fruits of Swiss-Middle East collaborations in science and technology.