Purpose & Objectives
A growing concern about climate change in many Arab countries has led to the consideration of strategic energy options beyond oil and gas. The Arab governments’ and public and private companies’ investments in the Gulf and MENA region have resulted in the expansion and the re-direction of research priorities in universities and educational institutions to meet new market needs. More funding is available to develop, adapt, train and prepare for the demands of the new labor markets of green energy businesses and product investments. Serious research output relevant to the local market is taking place and is attracting students and faculty to contribute to the development of knowledge at home. In published background articles by the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States in 2010 as part of Arab climate resilience initiative, energy research and economic development agenda in the Arab world identified three areas of importance for climate change mitigation.
The identified areas are:
- Energy supply and alternative energy technologies
- Energy efficient building systems and processes
- Sustainable water production and utilization
Arab countries began economic reforms to stimulate private investments and to support the transition to a market economy. These reforms have also emphasized the redefinition of national and regional research strategies and the introduction of quality assurance in educational institutions. These discussions have affected energy education and research in universities to be directed towards addressing local and regional problems and the need for developing students’ critical thinking skills and to be more innovative if universities are to enhance the expansion of the green energy and green technology markets in the Arab world. The development of renewable products, the availability of research funding and the offering of green education will lead to accelerated development, affordability and the adoption of sustainable practices in the areas of energy, manufacturing and water production.
The private sector and universities are to respond to a new urgency in preparing skilled green labor for the green energy market, building and products. There will be a growing demand for trained personnel in green technologies with a deep understanding of integrated approaches to building design from concept to actual construction, to alternative energy generation methods and to techniques for safe water production and re-use. It is timely for universities to extend their learning community to professionals who are not degree seekers, but need to acquire new skills to grow their green businesses and to meet the evolving green market demand in energy, buildings and water. Many professionals are interested in specific specialization and would like to have the flexibility of acquiring knowledge in a less structured method due to their work commitments. The introduction of green technology certificate programs would be a highly needed professional education system to support and build capacity in areas of specialization that are identified as fastest research and market growth areas for employment.