The world of higher education is constantly changing and evolving. New technologies, new ideas and new ways of learning are emerging all the time. University of Business and Technology continues to change with the world.
In the journey of UBT’s remarkable growth from a teaching-based university (Generation I) to a teaching and research-based (Generation III) University, Basma El Zein, the General Director of Techno Valley stands out as a driving force behind its success. As UBT is expanding its offerings specifically from Research and community service perspectives, being present on the map of the ranked universities, it is clear that effective and courageous leadership played a significant role.
Basma El Zein’s commitment to quality education and a keen understanding of the labor market’s needs is leading to the provision of specialized business education, filling a crucial gap in the field. As a result, UBT has gained prominence and recognition in the industry.
Under her guidance, Techno Valley is flourishing, fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. By creating an environment that nurtures startups and bridges the gap between academia and industry, Basma El Zein ensured that UBT’s Techno Valley became a hub for cutting-edge research, development and collaboration.
With a passion for sustainability, Basma spearheaded numerous initiatives to address environmental challenges and promote social responsibility. By integrating sustainability principles into UBT’s curriculum and research, she aims to create a lasting impact on society and the planet. Her work has not gone unnoticed, and she has been featured in prominent publications like the Wall Street Journal and Millennium Magazine.
Let’s discover how her dedication to advancing education, research and innovation continues to shape the future of UBT, making her an invaluable asset to the University and the Techno Valley alike!
Can you provide a brief overview of your background and experience in the field of sustainability?
I am a seasoned professional with extensive experience in academic, research and consultancy roles. Throughout my career, I have been involved in developing academic institutions and research in Saudi Arabia, particularly in higher education and its connection to the industry.
Currently, I serve as the Director General of UBT Techno-Valley and previously held positions like Director General of the Governance and Sustainability Center and Dean of Scientific Research at UBT. My expertise spans renewable energy, nanotechnology, telecommunication, artificial intelligence and computer vision.
I have a strong track record of research, publications and patents in the field of solar energy and energy storage. Besides, I have actively contributed to community service initiatives and have received recognition for my contributions to academia, research and the industry.
What motivated you to pursue a career focused on sustainability? How long have you been working at UBT Technology Valley, and what are your main responsibilities as the General Director?
Exploring sustainability and innovation, I am driven by a sense of responsibility to protect the environment. This started when I was a research scientist at King Abdulah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), working on nanotechnology for photovoltaic applications. At UBT, I have held various roles, from promoting research and curriculum development to establishing the Governance and Sustainability Center and UBT Techno Valley.
I foster innovation, support startups and facilitate knowledge transfer between academia and industry. My work aims to contribute to a more sustainable future and create an environment conducive to research collaboration and economic growth.
What is the overall sustainability strategy of UBT Technology Valley and what are its key pillars or focus areas?
Applying ESG principles in institutions and companies brings several benefits, including promoting sustainability, social responsibility and good governance. Initiatives like environmental efforts, social inclusion, governance practices and responsible investment are crucial.
Integrating ESG into the curriculum prepares future leaders to address global challenges. Embracing ESG enhances reputation and attracts stakeholders prioritizing these values.
How do you ensure that sustainability is integrated into the company’s operations and decision-making processes?
Integrating sustainability into a company’s operations and decision-making is crucial for environmental and social responsibility. Setting clear goals, conducting assessments, implementing sustainable practices, engaging employees, collaborating with stakeholders and ensuring transparency are key steps.
Sustainable practices like renewable energy, recycling and eco-friendly packaging reduce emissions and promote sustainability. Employees, training and awareness play a significant role, while collaboration leads to innovative solutions. Regular reporting builds trust and accountability. This integration benefits the company’s reputation, attracts conscious customers and investors, contributing to a more sustainable future.
What frameworks or standards do you follow to report on the company’s sustainability performance?
To ensure transparency and credibility in sustainability reporting, companies can follow recognized frameworks and standards such as GRI, SASB, TCFD, UNGC, ISO 26000, CDP, and Integrated Reporting Framework.
These guidelines cover economic, environmental and social impacts and help companies disclose relevant information to stakeholders. Companies may adopt multiple frameworks based on industry, size and reporting goals, improving the comparability of sustainability reports and enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions.
Are there any specific environmental goals or targets that the company has set and how do you track progress towards those goals?
Universities demonstrate commitment to sustainability by setting specific environmental goals and targets. They track progress through regular monitoring, audits and energy-saving initiatives. Examples include reducing energy consumption, waste and water use, promoting sustainable transportation and implementing green building initiatives.
To measure progress, they establish KPIs, conduct sustainability reports and engage the campus community. This helps create a more environmentally friendly campus and showcases their dedication to sustainability.
How do you plan to adapt or position UBT Technology Valley to address these future sustainability challenges?
Adapting or positioning UBT techno-valley to address future sustainability challenges requires a comprehensive approach that involves various stakeholders. Here are some strategies that we are implementing:
- Sustainability Guidelines and Standards: Develop and implement sustainability guidelines for techno-valley companies, encouraging eco-friendly practices.
- Incubation and Support for Sustainable Startups: Establish incubators supporting sustainable startups with resources and funding.
- Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Foster cooperation among companies, research institutions and government for innovative sustainability solutions.
- Education and Training: Offer sustainability training for techno-valley employees and businesses.
- Public-Private Partnerships: Partner with local entities to address regional sustainability challenges.
- Awareness Campaigns: Launch initiatives to promote sustainable practices and behavior change.
- Policy Advocacy: Advocate for supportive sustainability policies at local and national levels.
- Circular Economy Initiatives: Promote circular economy principles and resource efficiency.
- Monitoring and Reporting: Establish mechanisms to track sustainability progress.
- International Collaboration: Foster global cooperation to tackle sustainability challenges.
- Continuous Innovation: Support R&D efforts for sustainable technologies and solutions.
By implementing these strategies, UBT Techno-valley is positioning itself as a leader in addressing future sustainability challenges. It is creating an ecosystem that fosters innovation, collaboration and sustainable practices, attracting businesses, talent and investment that align with the goal of building a more sustainable future.
What trends or developments do you foresee in the field of sustainability, particularly in your sector, in the coming years?
In the field of sustainability, including nanotechnology, several trends and developments are expected to shape the future. Here are some key trends to consider:
- Green Nanotechnology: Focus on eco-friendly nanomaterials, processes and applications to minimize environmental impacts.
- Energy Storage and Renewable Energy: Nanotechnology improves energy storage and e hances renewable energy technologies.
- Water Treatment and Purification: Nanotechnology used for effective water treatment and clean drinking water production.
- Sustainable Packaging: Nanotechnology enables eco-friendly packaging solutions and reduced food waste.
- Environmental Monitoring: Nanosensors provide real-time data for monitoring air and water quality.
- Circular Economy: Nanomaterials designed for reusability, recyclability and safe disposal.
- Responsible Development and Regulation: Emphasis on safe handling and addressing health/environmental risks.
- Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Crucial for driving sustainable nanotechnology forward.
Overall, nanotechnology offers promising solutions for global sustainability challenges.
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