Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, called on the youth to “step forward and make a difference” during her commencement address at NYU Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Read a summarized version of Ms. Al Mubarak’s speech below or watch the full speech on YouTube.
“Your Highness, ladies and gentlemen, esteemed faculty, proud parents, and most crucially, the graduating class of 2023 at NYU Abu Dhabi. Today, I address you with a great sense of pride and a resounding sense of urgency. Pride because you, our future, trailblazers, are set to journey into the world armed with knowledge, skills, and you carry with you not only our hopes and dreams, but most importantly, the harvest of the UAE’s most sacred values: the values of compassion, openness, and a relentless optimism in conquering any challenge.
Urgency, because our world urgently needs those values, needs your innovation, bravery and unwavering dedication and youthful energy. Our planet, ladies and gentlemen, stands at a critical juncture. The dual crises of climate change and the loss of nature and biodiversity pose a severe threat to life as we know it.
Both crises were born out of human activities, and it is our collective responsibility to leverage human ingenuity, collaboration and the will to mitigate them. Successful conservation efforts have demonstrated that biodiversity can recover when we protect and restore habitats.
Because nature will heal if we let it and it will thrive if we help it.
Your education at NYU Abu Dhabi empowers you to contribute to these solutions. Whether you're a social or physical scientist, a biologist, engineer, economist, artist or philosopher, you all have a unique role in this monumental endeavor.
Dear graduates, as you embark on this exciting new journey, remember that you are not just the inheritors of our world as it stands, but also the architects of the world as it could be. Through your actions, you have the power to transform the narrative of climate change and the loss of nature from one of despair into one of hope, resilience and restoration.
Margaret Mead, the renowned anthropologist, once said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Bear in mind that you are that group. You are the catalyst for change. NYU Abu Dhabi Class of 2023. It is time for us to step forward and make a difference in our world.
Congratulations and thank you.”— Razan Al Mubarak