The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and Qatar University (QU), held the first annual meeting of the Academic Network for Development Dialogue (ANDD), gathering virtually the representatives of renowned universities and academic institutions from the Arab region and the world, along with representatives from UN-ESCWA.
The meeting builds on the last virtual workshop held on December 9, 2020. It aimed to discuss and approve a five-year plan of the network including necessary task forces to complete tools and services to support ANDD members, such as an Arabic based e-learning platform, dedicated data and statistic sites and a research indexing tool to make research and reports more accessible and visible.
The meeting also discussed and approved a proposal to develop a standing ANDD book series programme.
Additionally, the meeting included a panel discussion that tackled the subjects of research, innovation and collaboration to advance the 2030 Agenda and sustainable development goals during crisis and post-crisis times.
In the opening remarks, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at QU and current chairperson of ANDD, Prof. Mariam Ali al-Maadeed, stressed that "this network came from the vision that the UN and universities, together, can influence the future of sustainable development in the region as well as in the world."
Co-ordinator of the Strategy, Planning, Accountability, Results & Knowledge (SPARK) section of ESCWA, Tarcisio Alvarez-Rivero stated that "this network allowed us to think about how we can improve the region from the different positions that we hold, and how to leverage the power that learning institutions have, to influence policy decisions at all levels to advance sustainable development. "The meeting offered an opportunity to suggest ideas for collaboration in different areas identified as priorities by the members.
Among the suggestions were co-funding programmes and grants focusing on common issues, co-organised events and student summer internships. A number of participants representing different universities also offered to host the next annual meeting of the network which is scheduled to take place in 2022.