CEOs, Global Leaders, Academic Experts, and Prominent Youth commit to making the Launching Ceremony of the SDG Brain Lab programme a huge success!

The SDG Brain Lab Launching Ceremony took place on Friday, October 22, 2021, in which UN Representatives, Corporate Experts, and Leaders, Professional Academic Figures have participated to discuss the vital role of youth in community development and nation-building through good education in order to become better citizens of tomorrow,  share and discuss the challenges and the role of the youth in the community and stress the idea of empowering and uniting the youth to make the world a better place.

LEBANON, Beirut, Friday October 22, 2021

The SDG Brain Lab is the latest programme launched by the United Nations Global Compact Network Lebanon aiming to equip and engage the Lebanese youth with the global vision of the future. For the years to come, youth will not only experience the outcomes of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals but will also be the key drivers of their successful implementation on the national level. 

More than 200 participants from 10 different fields of study and coming from 11 universities were joined by 9 top-notch experts and speakers from all over the world to launch the SDG Brain Lab. The opening of the ceremony started with a dedicated message to the youth of Lebanon by the Master of Ceremony Ms. Rewa Faour who called on their unity to drive a change that is needed towards a brighter tomorrow.

“You are the minds that will disrupt the old ways of doing things by believing that change begins through each one of us.” 

Building on youth empowerment, Dr. Dima Jamali, President of GCNL and Dean of School of Business at the University of Sharjah, introduced the role of youth in building stronger communities. “Connected like never before, young change-makers like you have been and will continue to be the future architects in matters concerning communities, driving social impact and contributing to concrete scalable solutions rooted in the SDGs” said Dr. Jamali. After warmly welcoming the speakers and the students, she introduced the SDG Brain Lab as a “Project of Hope” in such critical times, and that the primary goal of the programme is to nurture and foster our future change-makers.

Drawing on youth leadership, we had with us the Head of Principles for Responsible for Management Education (PRME) Dr. Mette Morsing who introduced the global movement of transforming business and management education, and who emphasized its pivotal role in serving universities. Dr. Mette talked about the importance of sustainable and healthy educational environments and emphasized the mission of institutions for shaping the skills and mindsets of future leaders.

“It is a wonderful, concrete, and aspirational programme that you have put together. I am personally impressed to see how this project stands out in terms of not being there for only students, but also providing businesses and partners with challenging and novel ideas with an aspiration of actually making an impact for the country”.

Dr. Mette Morsing, Head of PRME

From a global to a local perspective, Dr. Elias Warrak, President of Balamand University and member of the SDG council, shed light on the incremental role of universities in providing extra-curriculum programs to foster students’ readiness to the workforce. Quoting Dr. Warrak, Higher education must not only teach Work it must teach Life. Education gives hope for a better future. It emphasizes, brings out, and enhances the human ethics that we need to see in our students”. He also stressed the role of universities and academic experts in assisting the students and helping them make the right choices while enhancing their communication skills, growing their integrity and commitment, and providing them with the needed support to increase their exposure in the professional world through tailored workshops, internships, and connections to corporations.

Scaling larger by collective action, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was represented by Dr. Nada Sweidan, the Social and Local Development Officer and the Youth Focal Point at UNDP in Lebanon The future of Lebanon can only be shaped by the Lebanese youth, who are positive agents of change within their commitments said Dr. Sweidan.  As challenges keep mounting up in the world, and more specifically in Lebanon, she described the youth as being the light of hope through their passion and dedication to do better. Every year, an overwhelming number of young Lebanese willingly join the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) and prove through it their potential and ability to lead and initiate social change. 

The launching ceremony of the SDG Brain Lab invited speakers from various sectors, in order to cover the role that the youth plays in numerous agendas. For the private sector that welcomes thousands of young graduates every year into the workforce, GCNL had the pleasure to welcome a change-maker of the luxury lifestyle in the Arab World. Mr. Patrick Chalhoub, CEO of Chalhoub Group and Board member of the UN Global Compact, is a strong believer and supporter of the power of youth.  Mr. Chalhoub expressed that addressing the 2030 Agenda is a matter for all. “Some people feel that these are matters for the governments and that it is the role of NGOs; it is in fact the role of each one of us.” Through the Group’s high engagement with the UN Global Compact, Mr. Chalhoub stated that businesses are becoming more involved and committed to taking responsibility towards bold changes to advance the SDG roadmap. He continued by stating that the youth today are choosing to be part of companies beyond the incremental factor of payroll and salaries, but rather for the purpose and values of the company.

”Youth are the future, the hope and the impact for a better world”. 

Mr. Patrick Chalhoub, CEO of Chalhoub Group

As for the civil sector’s role in promoting youth development, President and Founder of Ajialouna Dr. Lina Dada shared the organization’s mission toward leaving no one behind. As a member of GCNL’s SDG Council, Dr. Dada continuously supports the advancement of the SDGs through the work being done in the country. Dr. Dada stated, We take great strides  to ensure our activities and programs across the basic assistance and food security, social-economic, education and medications, and health sectors  bring about tangible results and demonstrate leadership and dedication to alleviating hunger and poverty and providing equal access to health care and promoting education and empowerment of women.

By recognizing the interconnectedness of the SDGs, Mrs. Zeina Misk, head of the social science department at Broumana Highschool and an instructor at the Lebanese American University, representing Mrs. Tahani Saker, Founder of Humanity Works (NGO) and ambassador for SDG4 Quality Education, illustrated the powerful role of education for a better future. In her speech, Mrs. Misk claimed that quality education should be “tackling the social, the emotional, the mental, the physical and the cognitive development, provide the foundation of equity in society, and serve as the key to escape poverty”. She stated education to be a fundamental pillar and a key driver in initiating societal changes in a world full of challenges.

Driving partnerships for efficient service provision was tackled by Mr. Philip Black, Head of strategic partnerships and training at CSRN management consulting for social impact organization UK. He showed his engagement to motivate, inspire and mentor students in advancing their social impact along with the studies and activities within their curriculum. Mr. Black shared with the students how valuable it is to invest in education and take advantage of the development opportunities that come our way”. He highlighted the prominent partnership building with the Global Compact Network Lebanon to run and develop the SDG Brain Lab programme, and how important it is to bring expertise into the programme in order to provide the participants with the best skill-set and knowledge needed to meet their goals by the end of the journey.

Learning all about the Global Goals, Mrs. Alexandra Tarazi, Senior Manager for Global Operations at the Global Compact Office presented the United Nations 2030 Agenda. Ms. Tarazi shared examples of the work being done towards the advancement of the 17 SDGs through the UN Global Compact. As she said, “Responsible business rooted in universal principles are essential to achieving transformational change through the SDGs.” 

Officially introducing the SDG Brain Lab, Executive Director of GCNL Mrs. Deenah Fakhoury and Programmes Coordinator Ms. Alaa Karanouh presented the operational structure of the programme, went over the three different hubs, and further explained the next steps on the journey to come with the students.

The SDG Brain Lab was designed to empower the youth and enable them to contribute to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Global Compact Ten Principles. The SDG Brain Lab is targeting university students aged between 18 and 24 years old. It is composed of 3 hubs: the Training, the Brain, and the Data hubs.

We are all agents of change, and youth has a prominent role in leading the way, but they need to be equipped with the right tools, and the SDG Brain Lab is paving the path to achieving that goal.

To learn more, please visit the SDG Brain Lab presentation.

Speakers, students, and the GCNL team at the SDG Brain Lab Opening Ceremony.


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