US varsity delegation in Pakistan under Green Development Program

Innovative approaches discussed to tackle urban challenges and explore need to engage youth in shaping future of cities.

ISLAMABAD: To strengthen international partnerships for exchange of knowledge and promotion of youth-led green initiatives, Institute of Urbanism (IoU) and School of Leadership Foundation (SoLF) with support of the US embassy Islamabad hosted a delegation from the DePaul University, Chicago, under the joint initiative called Green Urban Development (GUD) Program.

The delegation was led by John Zeigler, Director Urban Education and Community Partnerships, and Hiba Zakai, a distinguished PhD scholar.

During the seven-day visit, the delegation held several meetings with stakeholders including Rana Mashood, Chairperson Prime Minister’s Youth Program (PYMP), and Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairperson Higher Education Commission (HEC).

“Through the Green Urban Development Program, we are forging impactful partnerships with institutions like DePaul University to empower young leaders and foster sustainable solutions for our communities. This collaboration embodies our commitment to nurturing the next generation of change makers in urban development”, said Mariyam Irfan, Managing Director School of Leadership Foundation.

During these meetings, the Green Urban Development School (GUDS) model was recognized as a great initiative which can play a critical role in developing understanding and skills of youth to lead the transition towards a sustainable future. Discussions were also carried out to explore opportunities for creating a synergy between GUDS and the Green Youth Movement (GYM) Clubs which being supported by the government in 136 public sector universities.

Dr. Ejaz Ahmad, Senior Program Fellow IoU, said, “GUDS serves as an example of how providing the right kind of opportunities to aspiring young individuals can lead to introduction of innovative solutions that have a multiplier effect in terms of tackling urban environmental challenges.”

To facilitate long term linkages between universities in Pakistan and the U.S., a series of engagements were organized between the representatives from DePaul University at the GUDS education partners in Pakistan i.e., COMSATS University Islamabad and Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU).

A seminar, ‘Green Solutions for Cities: Role of Academia & Exchange of Knowledge’ was organized at COMSATS University Islamabad. At the event, the Chairperson PMYP, Mr Mashood, appreciated the collaborations between GUDS and the GYM Clubs and highlighted how such cross-linkages can have a multiplier impact.

Representatives from the DePaul University and the US Embassy Islamabad appreciated the long-term impact which will be created by the four projects established by GUDS participants from QAU and COMSATS for a livable urban future.  

The seminar titled ‘Role of Innovation & Youth in Advancing Green Urban Solutions’ at QAU explored the innovative approaches required to tackle urban challenges and the need to engage youth in shaping the future of cities. Mr. Zeigler, highlighted the need to foster an ecosystem that nurtures innovation and empowers youth to become agents of positive change in their communities. “The GUDS initiative celebrates the youth and partner organizations as true ‘Merchants of Green Development’, driving change for a sustainable future”, he further added.

Hiba Zakai said, “Engaging with participants of the GUDS has been invaluable in our brainstorming sessions. Co-collaboration is the key instrument in achieving sustainable goals for society.”

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