Walk & Roundtable at Expo 2020: We must not squander window of opportunity to stave off the Climate Crisis

January 21, 2022

Dubai –Today at the Dubai Expo 2020, United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Climate Action, Michael Haddad, completed a symbolic walk and hosted a roundtable discussion for business leaders to underscore the importance of raising the level of ambition and urgency of action, by all sectors of society to curb greenhouse gas emissions, to keep the world from going over the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, critical to averting devastating consequences of climate change.

“Climate change is not a threat in the distant future about which we can choose to procrastinate. It is here today, as we see from extreme weather phenomena across the world,” stressed Dr. Khalida Bouzar, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Regional Bureau of Arab States at UNDP in her opening message. “But climate devastation is not inevitable. We can still reverse course and save our planet and ourselves, but only if we act together in solidarity, with urgency and guided by science.”

The walk started at United Nations Hub in the Mission Possible – Opportunity Pavilion, where participants were welcomed by Maher Nasser, Director of the United Nations Outreach Division and Commissioner-General of the United Nations at Expo and Dena Assaf, UN Resident Coordinator in the UAE and Deputy Commissioner-General. “We were happy to partner in planning and hosting this event as part of our celebration of the Global Goals Week at the Expo. Climate Action is not only one of the 17 Sustainable Goals that we are highlighting in this week, but it is also an important factor in the ability to deal with climate change that is impacting achievements across all other goals,” said Maher Nasser.

Haddad started his walk from the UN Hub, crossing Expo grounds, towards the Sustainability District, joined by UN officials and others from national pavilions, business leaders, academia, and the media.

The walk ended at the Swedish Pavilion, where the Committee for Sweden’s participation at the Expo hosted a roundtable discussion for business leaders to showcase examples of leading private sector companies that have adopted green, climate-positive business models, and to reflect on how they made this transition. The roundtable featured Etienne Sanz de Acedo, CEO of the International Trademark Association; Rasha Mukayad, Managing Director of Howden Broking Group in UAE; Ali Al Baqali, CEO of Aluminum Bahrain (ALBA); Anna-Karin Rosen, Managing Director of SAAB in UAE; AlAnoud AlHashmi, CEO of The Futurist Company in UAE; Peter Harris, Vice President, International Sustainability, United Parcel Service (UPS); Dina Storey, Director of Sustainability at the Dubai Expo 2020, who moderated the discussion.

“Creating a sustainable society, free of emissions and toxins, and equally caring for people and nature, is a priority for Sweden. Our Climate Policy Framework is inclusive of all sectors of society and the private sector is a crucial partner, leading the way to many critical climate innovations that are benefitting the whole world,” said HE Jan Thesleff, Commissioner-General of Sweden at Expo 2020. “We hope that this roundtable inspires more private sector companies to make the green transition.”

Paralyzed from the chest down at the age of six, Michael Haddad was told that he will never be able to stand up or walk independently. He defied the odds, devising his own unique method of walking upright, independently, with the help of a simple exoskeleton and a pair of crutches. Since 2013, he has been employing his walking ability to shed light on critical environmental challenges in his home country, Lebanon, across the Arab region and globally.

UNDP appointed Haddad as a Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Climate Action in 2019. Haddad is currently preparing for his biggest challenge yet, to walk 100 kilometers in the Arctic Circle to bring attention to the melting arctic ice sheet as one of the gravest manifestations of climate change, and to call for urgent climate action. His Arctic Walk for Action on the Klima (Climate) Emergency – AWAKE Walk is expected to take place in Norway in late 2022.

Contact Information

In UNDP | Noeman AlSayyad | noeman.alsayyad@undp.org | +962 (79) 567 2901

In the Swedish Committee | Adriana Haxhimustafa | adriana.haxhimustafa@expo2020.se | +971 50 381 0476