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Future Earth at the University of Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain, a small but lively country on the Arabian Peninsula, is part of the MENA Region (Middle East and North Africa Region). It is thus also part of Future Earth MENA network, which is represented by the Future Earth MENA Regional Center at the Cyprus Institute (FEMRC). Moreover, the President of the University of Bahrain, Prof. Riyad Y. Hamzah, is the chair of the Regional Advisory Committee of the FEMRC. The University of Bahrain is a leading academic institution in Bahrain, paving the way to a modern, innovative and sustainable future for the Kingdom.

It is thus not overly surprising that the FEMRC Director, Prof. Manfred A. Lange paid a visit to the University in order to introduce Future Earth MENA to the wider university community and to the public of Manama, the capitol of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

During a plenary lecture at the University of Bahrain, Prof. Lange introduced some of the major environmental challenges that are prevalent in the MENA region. Climate change and water scarcity take center stage, while the impacts of climate change on major cities and urban structures follow suit. Cities and their inhabitants are particularly vulnerable to enhanced warming and deteriorating air quality, which jointly pose serious threats to the health of people’s health. After introducing some of the known mitigation and adaptation strategies and measures aimed to minimize the adverse consequences of global climate change, Prof. Lange briefly explained how Future Earth, in general, and Future Earth MENA, in particular, will contribute to tackle some of these challenges. The presentation attracted substantial interest and the lecture was followed by a lively question and answer discussion between the Professor and the audience in attendance at the university.

The University of Bahrain has also pioneered tertiary education on environmental and sustainability issues of local to regional importance through a graduate Master’s and a doctoral program on “Environment and Sustainable Development”. Prof. Lange took the opportunity of his visit to Bahrain to carry out an invited one-day Workshop on “Climate Change Impacts and Mitigation/Adaptation Options for the Middle East and Bahrain” with PhD students of the University of Bahrain.

The workshop was comprised of three components. In a lecture on “Introduction to Global Changes in the Middle East and North Africa and Mitigation-/Adaptation Strategies”, Prof. Lange gave a general introduction into climate change and numerical climate modeling, introduced the impacts of climate change on the MENA Region and presented a variety of mitigation and adaptation options to tackle adverse consequences of global change. The second component consisted of 11 student presentations of their ongoing PhD work that covered a wide range of topics from innovative technologies for seawater desalination to “Green Building” certification; and from enhancing quality education on climate change in secondary schools to the challenges of cooperation between universities and the public sector to achieve sustainable development. Work in breakout-groups on three topics and presentations of the outcome of the discussions comprised the third component of the seminar.

At the end of the day, there was the feeling among the participants that this had been a most constructive and fruitful seminar that enabled not only the exchange of knowledge and expertise, but also enhanced the motivation of the PhD students to continue in their work to better prepare Bahrain for climate changes and their impacts. The seminar also underlined one of the main goals of the FEMRC, to nurture and advance understanding and capacity building on the most pressing challenges the MENA Region faces today and in the foreseeable future.

Figure 1: Prof. Manfred Lange (left) receives a commemorative plaque of the University of Bahrain from its President, Prof. Riyad Hamzah (center) and the Dean of the College of Science, Prof. Mohammad El-Hilo (right) prior to Prof: Lange’s plenary lecture.


Figure 2: Seminar participants attend lecture by Prof Lange