Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 09:23 am est

From the Emirates: NYUAD holds Biiah conference on environmental protection

Posted on April 28, 2014 | by Julia Saubier

courtesy of the Gazelle

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Earth Issue of The Gazelle, the student publication at NYU Abu Dhabi. It has been reprinted with permission as a part of an ongoing collaboration between The Gazelle and WSN to connect our two campuses.

On April 26, environmental enthusiasts gathered at the Downtown Campus for Biiah 2014, a one-day event hosted by NYU Abu Dhabi’s environmental advocacy Student Interest Group, Ecoherence. Biiah, Arabic for environment, is the first climate change youth conference in the UAE. Biiah was created to be “the kickoff to a burgeoning environmental movement in the county, bringing together students, community members and experts in the region to start a grassroots environmental movement.”

After a series of icebreakers, Biiah 2014 began with a presentation by members of the organizing team, followed by a keynote presentation by Robert Bradley, Senior Advisor of the Directorate of Energy & Climate Change at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We address climate change specifically, but we want to look at the issue from the holistic approach. For that reason we have speakers who talk about art and climate change, youth activism, national policy and environmental law. We hope that their diverse experiences will start a cross-sectional approach to addressing climate change,” said sophomore Louis Plottel, one of the three members on the core organizing team.

This holistic approach to addressing environmental issues was apparent in the selection of panelists which included, David Holland, professor of Mathematics and Atmosphere-Ocean Science and principal investigator of the Center for Global Sea-Level Change; Una Chaudhuri, professor of English, Drama and Environmental Studies; Simran Vedvyas, youth activist, chairperson and founder of SynergYouth; Shakeel Hussain Kazmi, professor of International Environmental Law and policy advisor to the Pakistani Ministry of Climate Change and the Green Climate Fund.

The panel discussion preluded a keynote speech by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Abdul Aziz al Nuaimi, also known as the Green Sheikh, Official Environmental Advisor to the Ajman Government.

The talks were designed to be educational and informative.

“The team hopes to be able to bring awareness to people about the environment, especially to the youth in the UAE, for it is only if people are knowledgeable can real change in the environment happen,” remarked freshman Patrick Wee, participant relations director.

After the keynote speeches and panel discussions, the participants partook in two workshops hosted by guests, NYUAD faculty and affiliated faculty. Workshop topics were also aimed to promote a multi-faceted approach to climate change. Some examples were “The Responsible Partnership — Why Caring For The Environment Is Everyone’s Business” and “Scientific Evidence of Climate Change and Implications.”

“We hope to use the ideas we hear today to build a network of young people that are passionate about environmental issues,” said Plottel.

“Our ultimate goal is to be able to send a delegation to the [21st Conference of Parties] in Paris, where a new climate agreement will be written. To do this we need to build a strong coalition of passionate youth that are willing to take this local knowledge to an international scale,” said Plottel.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 28 print edition. Julia Saubier is a staff writer. Email her at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.