WED Innovation Lab kicks off in Abu Dhabi tomorrow

After the successful launch of WED at COP28, which effectively incorporated children’s early learning years into the global climate conversation, Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Authority, as part of the run up to their hosting of the second WED Forum in the capital in October 2024, is set to organise the WED Innovation Lab that will commence its activities from tomorrow Monday January 22nd, until January 26th.

The Innovation Lab, being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Head of the Office of Development Affairs and Martyrs’ Families at the Presidential Court and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA), and Chaired by H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, will welcome over 30 regional and international experts from diverse sectors who will be working together to pave the way for innovative outcomes to ensure a world-class, child-friendly ecosystem, not only for the children of Abu Dhabi but also for those in the UAE and beyond.

Established to galvanise cross-sector multidisciplinary action, and with the aim of creating a platform that discusses early childhood development issues and strengthens international stakeholder relationships with the intention of influencing policy and informing the public, the WED movement gathers local, regional and international experts and innovators to develop optimal solutions that positively impact the lives of young children and advance the early childhood development sector.

H.E. Sana Mohamed Suhail, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, said: “The Innovation Lab is a transformative concept that ECA is organising to gather experts for a week of immersive activities and events leading to the WED Forum, which will examine the developmental and social challenges across the three core interrelated themes of Intentional Parenting, Culture and Identity, and Sustainable and Family-friendly Cities.”

H.E. Sana added: “We are delighted to be welcoming to the lab a number of high-profile advisers from global philanthropic organizations, government, NGOs, stakeholders and the private sector, who will work through challenges related to the WED themes and examine strategies to ensure that ECA resonates and aligns with Emirati culture and upholds global awareness throughout the ideation and prototyping process. Our goal is to position the UAE as the catalyst for sustainable and positive change in early childhood development through advocacy, investment, and innovation.”

The five-day event will be hosted at Abu Dhabi’s iconic Yas Acres Golf and Country Club where participants will have the opportunity to kick-start activities that will lead to presenting final ideation prototype pitches to a high-profile jury, led by WED Chair, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, who will prioritize the most viable outputs for piloting and implementation. Part of the planned Innovation Lab activities involve visits to local schools and play areas, to encourage WED experts to actively observe and meaningfully engage with children and their caregivers, giving the experts a clear understanding of the ECD ecosystem enabling them to develop innovative ideas to ensure a child friendly environment at all levels.

The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Development Authority oversees the implementation of the ‘Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Development Strategy for 2035.’ This strategy is designed to foster the development and prosperity of the early childhood sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Its primary aim is to provide children with optimal early childhood care, ensuring they attain maximum levels of development, proper growth, and instilling essential skills in preparation for the challenges of the next stage. Investing in the development of the early childhood sector is considered an ideal investment, laying a solid foundation for promoting comprehensive and sustainable development.”