You are currently viewing Icon of Prominence: Basma EL ZEIN’s Thrust of Sustainable Development
Basma EL ZEIN | Founder and Director General of UBT Techno-Valley

Icon of Prominence: Basma EL ZEIN’s Thrust of Sustainable Development

In a world where innovation is the heartbeat of progress, and the pursuit of excellence knows no bounds, let us introduce a visionary who is shaping the landscape of sustainable development. With over two decades of expertise in nanotechnology, renewable energy, and photovoltaic applications, Basma EL ZEIN is not just a leader, researcher, and project manager; she is a passionate force driving change.

As the Founder and Director General of UBT Techno-Valley, Basma oversees the strategic planning, implementation, and management of the university’s innovation hub, fostering interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship, and industry collaboration. Her journey in sustainability has been nothing short of remarkable, marked by significant experiences and milestones across prestigious institutions.

It all began with a deep-seated passion for science and an unwavering commitment to addressing the world’s most pressing global challenges. Basma’s academic and research pursuits have revolved around nanotechnology and energy conversion, with a particular focus on developing sustainable solutions. Her journey through academia and research started as a faculty member and Project Manager at Dar Al Hekma University, where the foundations of her path in sustainability began to take shape.

A significant turning point came when Basma had the privilege of joining the renowned King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) as a Research Scientist. This experience allowed her to engage in cutting-edge research and collaborate with some of the brightest minds in the field, setting the stage for her future work in nanotechnology and energy conversion. Her journey continued to expand as she became a Visiting Scholar at IEMN in France, contributing to global research efforts and engaging with experts from different parts of the world.

In subsequent roles, including Founder and Dean of Scientific Research at the University of Business & Technology (UBT) and Founder and Director of the Governance and Sustainability Center at UBT, Basma further shaped academic and research excellence, significantly contributing to sustainability initiatives within the institution by building a robust research and sustainability ecosystem.

In her current capacity as the Founder and Director General of Techno-Valley at the University of Business & Technology, Basma continues to drive sustainability initiatives and innovation. The establishment of a Sustainability Innovation Hub within Techno-Valley has played a pivotal role in advancing sustainability goals within the institution and beyond.

Basma’s journey has been characterized by a dedication to advancing research in the field, with a particular focus on creating eco-green Solar Cells with exceptional efficiency and longevity, leading to substantial innovations and patents granted in the USA and EPO. Her multidisciplinary approach, collaborative spirit, and mentorship have been instrumental in her journey, allowing her to approach sustainability challenges from multiple angles and inspire aspiring minds to contribute to sustainability and innovation.

Basma’s accolades, including being named one of the “Most Influential Women in Sustainability 2023” by Insights Success USA and receiving the “Excellence in Quality Management” award from the Bizz Award-WorldCob USA, reinforce her commitment to sustainability and its profound impact.

Also, Basma’s role as Vice President of the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace for Scientific and Academic Affairs has extended her reach into the realm of global tolerance and peace, emphasizing the interconnectedness of sustainability, global cooperation, and peaceful coexistence.

Visionary Leadership at Techno-Valley

As the Director General of Techno Valley at the University of Business & Technology (UBT), Basma has been deeply committed to fostering a culture of sustainability and innovation within the institution. With a background rooted in academia, research, renewable energy, and economic development, Basma has seamlessly extended her dedication to advancing science and technology into the realm of sustainability.

One of the primary initiatives under Basma’s leadership has been the establishment and growth of Techno-Valley as a “Sustainability Innovation Hub.” This dynamic center plays a crucial role as a bridge between academia and industry, enabling the development of innovative solutions to address complex sustainability challenges. The Sustainability Innovation Hub has not only significantly advanced sustainability goals within Techno-Valley but has also made a notable impact in the broader community. It serves as an exemplary model for addressing sustainability challenges, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, engaging students, and positively influencing both the academic community and the environment.

As per Basma, interdisciplinary collaboration has been a cornerstone of Techno-Valley’s sustainability efforts, facilitated by the Sustainability Innovation Hub. This approach brings together experts from various fields, promoting a holistic perspective in addressing complex environmental, social, and economic issues.

Research is another integral component of their commitment to sustainability. Techno-Valley has initiated various projects focused on critical sustainability issues, resulting in publications, patents, and practical solutions that contribute to the field’s knowledge.

Collaboration with industry has played a key role in their sustainability initiatives. Basma states that partnerships with local and international industries have provided research funding and valuable opportunities for students to engage in real-world sustainability projects, bridging the gap between academic learning and practical application.

Student involvement has been a priority, with Techno-Valley offering internships, research opportunities, and student-led initiatives. This hands-on experience equips students to become future leaders in the field.

Community outreach has extended the impact of their sustainability efforts beyond the academic community. Workshops, seminars, and engagement programs have raised awareness and promoted sustainable practices within the local community.

Innovation has been central to their sustainability journey, leading to the development of practical solutions, such as solar-powered community charging stations, sustainable waste management strategies, and green infrastructure in urban planning.

The impact of these initiatives is quantifiable through established metrics, including completed research projects, publications, student involvement, and the adoption of sustainable practices in the local community. This data informs continuous evaluation and improvement of their sustainability efforts.

Universities as Catalysts for Sustainability

Basma emphasizes that universities play a multifaceted and crucial role in advancing sustainability on various fronts. Here’s a summary of the key points she highlights:

  • Education: Universities serve as primary centers for knowledge dissemination. They educate students on sustainability issues, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and environmentally responsible practices. This education empowers future generations to make informed decisions that contribute to a sustainable future.
  • Research and Innovation: Universities are hubs for research and innovation. They conduct vital research on sustainable practices, renewable energy, environmental conservation, and more. The knowledge generated through research contributes to sustainable solutions and technologies, driving positive change in society.
  • Integration of Sustainability Principles: Educational institutions can contribute by integrating sustainability principles into their academic programs. This includes creating courses, majors, and programs that address sustainability challenges and equip students with the skills to solve these problems.
  • Community Engagement: Universities often serve as community hubs, allowing them to engage with local communities and organizations to address sustainability issues, encourage sustainable practices, and share expertise.
  • Leading by Example: Universities can lead by example by adopting sustainable practices on their campuses, such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, and green building design. This sets a precedent for students and the wider community, acting as a tangible embodiment of the values and principles they teach.

The University of Business & Technology (UBT) takes an active stance in contributing to sustainability goals through various meaningful initiatives:

  • TechnoValley: UBT’s TechnoValley serves as a vibrant hub for research, education, and advocacy related to sustainability. It conducts vital research, disseminates knowledge, and advocates for the adoption of sustainable practices both locally and globally.
  • Integration of Sustainability Principles: UBT integrates sustainability principles into its academic curriculum to ensure that students receive an education that includes a deep understanding of sustainability. This equips graduates with the knowledge and skills to address sustainability challenges in their future careers.
  • Sustainable Campus Practices: UBT embraces sustainable practices in its daily operations. This includes implementing energy-efficient measures, reducing waste, and running recycling programs on its campuses to minimize its environmental footprint.
  • Research and Innovation: UBT’s dedication to research and innovation extends to sustainability. Both faculty and students engage in research projects related to renewable energy, environmental conservation, and sustainability in various fields, leading to the development of innovative solutions.
  • Community Involvement: UBT collaborates with organizations and institutions to promote sustainability. This collaborative effort extends beyond the university’s campuses to the wider community, actively encouraging sustainable practices and social engagement.

UBT plays a pivotal role in shaping a sustainable future by actively participating in sustainability initiatives, infusing sustainability principles into its operations and curriculum, and contributing to the broader global endeavor to address pressing sustainability challenges.

Transforming UBT and TechnoValley into Beacons of Environmental Responsibility

During Basma’s tenure as the Director General of the University of Business & Technology (UBT) and the TechnoValley, numerous sustainability initiatives were launched, encompassing sustainable campus operations, renewable energy, eco-friendly transportation, curriculum integration, community outreach, industry collaboration, and recycling and waste reduction, aligning with UN SDGs.

  • Green campus initiatives included energy-efficient lighting, water conservation, waste recycling, and sustainable landscaping.
  • Solar energy projects reduced the carbon footprint and provided educational opportunities.
  • Eco-friendly transportation options like electric shuttles and bike-sharing programs were introduced.
  • Sustainability courses and seminars were integrated into UBT’s academic curriculum.
  • The TechnoValley engaged with the community, raising awareness about sustainability.
  • Partnerships with sustainable businesses and industries facilitated research projects and student engagement.
  • Green building standards were followed in construction projects.
  • Comprehensive recycling and waste reduction practices significantly reduced waste.
  • The TechnoValley supported research projects and startups related to renewable energy and sustainable technologies.
  • Annual sustainability reports maintained transparency and accountability.

These initiatives advanced UBT’s environmental commitment, fostering sustainability within the TechnoValley and the wider community. Under Basma’s leadership, the TechnoValley contributed to the global sustainability effort.

Guiding Principles for Women Leaders

Basma’s journey as a successful woman leader in the fields of sustainability and education has been marked by numerous challenges and achievements. Navigating and overcoming gender-related obstacles has been both a personal and professional endeavor, and she has shared her insights and strategies for success:

  • Confidence: Basma emphasizes the paramount importance of confidence in one’s abilities and expertise. It is a key element in overcoming self-doubt and standing one’s ground in challenging situations.
  • Mentorship and Networks: Seeking mentors and engaging with professional networks provides invaluable guidance and support. Connecting with other women leaders who have faced similar challenges offers valuable advice and insights.
  • Advocacy: Basma advocates for gender equity and diversity, promoting equal opportunities for women in leadership roles. She actively supports policies that foster gender balance.
  • Negotiation Skills: Developing strong negotiation skills is essential, particularly when securing funding for sustainability projects and addressing gender-related disparities.
  • Work-Life Balance: Achieving work-life balance is a priority. This involves setting clear boundaries and open communication about one’s needs with colleagues and superiors.
  • Resilience: Resilience is key in the face of adversity. It prepares individuals for setbacks and challenges while equipping them with the ability to bounce back and adapt.
  • Continuous Learning: In the ever-evolving fields of sustainability and education, continuous learning and professional growth are crucial. This ensures that leaders remain competitive and up-to-date with the latest developments.
  • Supportive Work Environment: Creating or seeking a supportive and inclusive work environment that values diversity and inclusion is essential.
  • Collaboration: Collaborating with allies who share similar goals and values is crucial. It helps in creating a supportive environment for addressing gender-related challenges.
  • Visibility and Recognition: Embracing visibility and recognition is important. Acknowledging and celebrating achievements and contributions breaks down stereotypes and demonstrates that women are equally capable in leadership roles.
  • Inspiration: Leading by example, Basma inspires and empowers future generations of women to pursue careers in sustainability and education.
  • Challenge Stereotypes: She challenges and debunks gender stereotypes through her work, words, and actions.
  • Self-Care: Prioritizing self-care and mental health is essential to maintain well-being and effectively overcome the demands of leadership roles.
  • Individual Journey: Basma reminds that each journey is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Success is achieved by combining expertise with these strategies.

Through her dedication and leadership, Basma serves as an inspiration for future generations of women leaders, leaving a lasting impact in the fields of sustainability and education. Her journey reflects resilience, determination, and a commitment to gender equality and diversity.

The Legacy of Techno-Valley

Basma’s remarkable achievements and contributions in the fields of sustainability and education are truly commendable. She takes pride in several notable success stories that reflect her dedication to advancing research, innovation, and sustainability. Here are some of her key accomplishments:

Founding the Scientific Research Deanship at UBT: Basma played a pivotal role in establishing and leading the Scientific Research Deanship at the University of Business & Technology. This initiative fostered a robust research ecosystem that promoted interdisciplinary collaboration, ensuring comprehensive perspectives and the transfer of innovative ideas to industry while safeguarding intellectual property.

Development of Governance, Sustainability, and SDG Policies: Basma’s contribution to developing the university’s Governance, Sustainability, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) policies and procedures has been instrumental in shaping the institution’s commitment to sustainable practices.

Leadership of Techno-Valley: As the Director General of Techno-Valley at UBT, Basma established and managed this dynamic hub, which serves as a “Sustainability Innovation Hub.” This innovative center bridges the gap between research and development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and capacity building focused on sustainable development and environmental solutions.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A key highlight of the Sustainability Innovation Hub is its emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. It successfully brought together faculty and researchers from various disciplines, fostering holistic and innovative solutions to sustainability challenges.

Partnerships with Industry: Basma’s leadership has led to partnerships with local and international industries, including renewable energy companies and environmental consulting firms. These collaborations have not only provided research funding but also opportunities for students to engage in real-world sustainability projects.

Student Engagement: The hub actively involves students in its projects, offering internships, research opportunities, and student-led initiatives. This hands-on experience prepares students to be future leaders in the field.

Community Outreach: Community outreach initiatives organized by the hub, including workshops, seminars, and engagement programs focused on sustainability, have created awareness and promoted sustainable practices beyond the academic community.

Innovative Solutions: The hub has contributed to the development of innovative solutions, such as solar-powered community charging stations, sustainable waste management strategies, and urban planning recommendations that incorporate green infrastructure.

Measuring Impact: The hub’s impact is measured through various metrics, ensuring accountability and demonstrating its effectiveness in terms of research projects completed, publications, student involvement, and the adoption of sustainable practices in the local community.

This success story serves as a model for addressing sustainability challenges, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, engaging students, and making a positive impact on the community and the environment. Basma is justifiably proud of the hub’s role in promoting sustainability research and practices and looks forward to its continued growth and impact in the future. Her visionary leadership and dedication continue to inspire and drive positive change in the fields of sustainability and education.

Vision for Addressing Critical Sustainability Issues

In the perspective of Basma, in the next decade, numerous pressing sustainability issues must be addressed by businesses and educational institutions to foster a more sustainable future. She emphasizes that first and foremost is the challenge of climate change mitigation, necessitating aggressive efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to renewable energy sources, and adapt to changing climate patterns. Equally critical, in her view, is biodiversity conservation, involving the protection of ecosystems in both terrestrial and marine environments to maintain a balance in the natural world.

Basma believes that promoting a circular economy is another essential goal that minimizes waste and maximizes resource utilization, thus reducing the environmental impact of production and consumption. She underscores the importance of accelerating the transition to sustainable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, as vital for a sustainable future, with businesses and educational institutions playing a leading role in adopting and promoting these technologies. She also considers sustainable agriculture practices crucial for food security and environmental conservation, a role that educational institutions can significantly contribute to through research and promotion.

Equally important, in Basma’s view, is the imperative to reduce waste and improve recycling processes, including the minimization of single-use plastics and enhancements to recycling infrastructure. Achieving sustainability also entails addressing social equity and justice, ensuring fair wages, equal opportunities, and social well-being for all. She believes access to clean and safe water, deemed a fundamental human right, must be provided equitably, serving both individuals and the environment.

Basma emphasizes the importance of encouraging responsible consumption and sustainable production patterns as key to sustainability, encompassing the promotion of eco-friendly products, reduction of overconsumption, and enhancement of resource efficiency. Educational institutions, in her opinion, must continue to play a central role in fostering sustainability by integrating sustainable practices into their curriculum, conducting research, and setting an example through their own operations.

Given the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters related to climate change, Basma believes that a focus on resilience and disaster preparedness is crucial. This involves not only disaster response but also resilience-building measures to reduce vulnerability. Additionally, with the growth of technology and the digital world, managing electronic waste and ensuring data privacy and security have become important aspects of sustainability.

To address these multifaceted sustainability challenges, Basma insists that global cooperation is imperative. She believes that governments, businesses, and educational institutions should work together to find innovative solutions and share knowledge. She argues that it will require unwavering commitment, innovation, and collaboration across sectors. Educational institutions, particularly, can prepare future leaders and professionals to tackle these challenges through research, education, and practical initiatives, while businesses can lead by example, adopting sustainable practices and fostering responsible corporate citizenship.

Blueprint for Sustainability Integration in Educational Institutions

Integrating sustainability into educational institutions requires careful planning and Basma offers valuable advice from her experiences:

  • Develop a Clear Sustainability Strategy: Begin with a comprehensive strategy that covers academic, operational, and community engagement aspects, serving as a roadmap for sustainability efforts.
  • Gain Leadership Support: Secure commitment from top leadership, including the university president and board of directors, to allocate necessary resources.
  • Establish a Dedicated Sustainability Office: Consider creating a central sustainability department to coordinate and implement initiatives across the institution.
  • Involve the Academic Community: Engage faculty, staff, and students in sustainability projects, fostering a sense of ownership.
  • Set Measurable Goals: Define clear, measurable sustainability objectives to track progress and accountability.
  • Invest in Sustainable Infrastructure: Commit to energy-efficient buildings, renewable energy sources, and sustainable transportation options.
  • Promote Research: Encourage research on sustainability topics to advance knowledge and practical solutions.
  • Provide Training: Offer sustainability training for all members of the academic community.
  • Foster Partnerships: Collaborate with organizations, agencies, and industry partners to bring expertise, funding, and real-world applications.
  • Extend Beyond Campus: Expand sustainability efforts to involve the surrounding community and address local needs.
  • Measure and Report Progress: Regularly assess and report sustainability progress for transparency and recognition.
  • Celebrate Achievements: Recognize and celebrate contributions to motivate others.
  • Commit Long-Term: Understand that sustainability is a long-term commitment and should be part of core values.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with evolving sustainability practices and trends.
  • Encourage Student Leadership: Empower students to take leadership roles in sustainability initiatives.
  • Seek Certifications: Consider sustainability certifications to benchmark and verify efforts.
  • Adapt and Evolve: Be flexible and ready to adapt to new challenges and opportunities.
  • ESG Integration: For ESG integration, include specific ESG goals in the sustainability strategy, gain leadership support, establish a dedicated sustainability office, engage the academic community, set measurable ESG goals, invest in sustainable infrastructure, promote research, offer training, foster partnerships, extend efforts to the community, emphasize transparency, and encourage student leadership in ESG initiatives. View ESG as a long-term commitment, stay informed, and contribute to a sustainable future encompassing environmental, social, and governance principles.

Basma believes by following these guidelines and embracing sustainability as a core value, educational institutions can contribute to a more sustainable future. Sustainability integration is an ongoing process, and every step counts.

The Future of Sustainability Education

In looking towards the future of sustainability education, Basma envisions a path of integration, innovation, and inclusion. Basma believes that sustainability education will become an inherent part of all disciplines and curricula, extending beyond environmentalism to encompass economic, social, and environmental dimensions. She sees women leaders continuing to play a central role in driving this vision forward. This future is characterized by several key elements.

Firstly, interdisciplinary integration will be the hallmark of sustainability education, with concepts seamlessly woven into various subjects. This cross-disciplinary approach will enable students to recognize the interconnectedness of global challenges, transcending traditional academic boundaries.

Secondly, experiential learning will take center stage, with hands-on experiences, fieldwork, and internships becoming fundamental aspects of sustainability education. Students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-world sustainability projects.

Incorporating innovation and technology will be essential, allowing sustainability education to keep pace with the latest technological advancements. This will empower students to devise cutting-edge solutions to global challenges, including climate change, energy transition, and biodiversity conservation.

A global perspective will be emphasized, with international collaboration taking precedence. Students will engage in global sustainability projects, share best practices, and gain insights from diverse cultural perspectives.

Besides, advocacy and leadership will be central to sustainability education, empowering students to become advocates for sustainability, driving change within their institutions and communities. Basma believes that women leaders will continue to be at the forefront of this advocacy, using their unique perspectives and skills to inspire and lead.

Inclusion and diversity will be embraced, ensuring that the benefits of sustainability are accessible to all, regardless of background or identity.

Also, universities will evolve into hubs of sustainability research and innovation, working closely with governments, industries, and civil society to develop practical solutions and strategies.

Basma anticipates that women in leadership will continue to break barriers and assume more prominent roles in sustainability education and practice, with their influence and contributions being critical in addressing global sustainability challenges. Mentorship and support will be actively encouraged among women leaders in sustainability education, fostering a diverse and inclusive pipeline of future leaders.

Taking a holistic approach, the future of sustainability education will consider the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. Basma believes that sustainability leaders, including women, will spearhead the development of strategies that create balanced, prosperous, and just societies.

Leave a Reply