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The latest Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed lecture, which was attended by H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination, explored how nature can provide inspiration to help humankind move to a new level in sustainability.
Titled 'A Sustainable Future Inspired by Nature', the lecture was presented by renowned architect and design innovator Michael Pawlyn. The theme of the talk reflects the determination of the UAE and its leadership to pursue all opportunities and take bold steps to safeguard the environment for the benefit of current and future generations.
The talk began with Pawlyn suggesting that "to radically shift our approach to sustainability, we need to rethink what it means to be human." He analysed how human evolution fits within 'deep time' – or the history of the planet – and how urgent action is required to address the current environmental challenges.
Pawlyn – considered a world-leading thinker in regenerative design and biomimicry – explored the stages of human development and argued that in order to continue flourishing as a species, we need to move to the next level in our human evolution.
He argued, "Our future sustainability efforts, must go beyond doing things that are 'less bad' and instead should endeavour to be net positive, for example by designing buildings that take more carbon out of the atmosphere than they emit and generate more clean energy than they use.
"This shift will require us to rethink our relationship with nature. Instead of considering ourselves separate from nature, he explained, humanity's future progress will depend on the health of natural systems that provide us with the essentials of life."
The talk went on to explore how nature itself already possesses solutions to many of the problems today, with the planet benefitting from 3.8 billion years of evolutionary refinement.
Pawlyn highlighted a number of recent architecture and design projects that have taken inspiration from nature to exist in harmony with the environment and enhance human wellbeing. These include the Sahara Forest Project, which aims to produce clean energy and food while revegetating deserts; a pavilion that harvests water from the air in a process inspired by the ancient Middle Eastern technology of ice-making and by the water-recovery adaptation found in camel's nostrils; and a venue that uses focussed moonlight to illuminate the performers.
The lecture – 'A Sustainable Future Inspired by Nature' – was moderated by Saood Al Noori, Head of Diplomatic Engagement at the Office of the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change. It featured pre-recorded contributions from Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the International Renewable Energy Agency; Habiba Al Marashi, Co-founder and Chairperson of the Emirates Environmental Group; and Mohamed Al Marzooqi, a communications specialist with a special interest in nature, the environment and sustainability.
The lecture will be broadcast on Saturday, 28th October, at 5 pm on local TV networks and will be available to watch afterwards on the Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed YouTube channel.
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