Snapshot from our time at kyu House


Published in ATÖLYE Insights · 7 min read · December 19, 2023

With COP28 coming to a close, we wanted to send a sincere thank you to everyone who joined our events either at our hub in Emirates Towers, at kyu House or in the Blue or Green Zones at Expo City throughout November 27 -December 13. Our purpose in coming together for these events was to seed intentions towards taking systemic and community-powered actions together for a regenerative future.

If you didn't make it, don't worry, we have some bite-sized highlights for you below.

COP28 & Next Steps

COP28, hosted by the UAE, achieved historical milestones with a landmark deal to transition away from fossil fuels being hailed as the main success. It has made significant strides towards climate action with the approval of the Loss and Damage Fund, putting food and regeneration at the heart of the discussions alongside many other significant steps - but there is still a long way to go.

This year has been marked by unprecedented levels of heat and other natural disasters that have reached alarming levels. What can boost the momentum needed towards much-needed action-oriented solutions is the global acknowledgement of the urgency required to transform our systems and the need for much more ambitious actions supported by effective and diverse leadership.

How we showed up

At ATÖLYE, we envision a regenerative economy where every interaction benefits all members of the ecosystem. This means creating systems that not only sustain the environment and all living systems, but also uplift society as a whole - and we believe this is only achievable through community-powered transformation.

It is for this very reason that this year, as a proud member of the kyu Collective, we showed up at COP with our regional and global partners to host dialogues on systems transformation through innovation, increased agency, and strengthened connections.

We participated in kyu House, a collaborative programming space designed for COP28 with our kyu Collective partners, BEworks, Gehl - Making Cities for People, IDEO, Lexington, Neol, Public Digital and SYPartners , demonstrating the role of community and creativity in expediting climate action and showcasing our collective efforts to address the crisis as well as delving into our individual roles as organizational leaders, creative thinkers and imaginative doers. Moreover, we also held sessions at the Green Zone and Blue Zone of Expo City with the intention to connect and influence decision-makers.

Our participation in multiple sessions of the Future Economy Forum alongside our partners NOW Partners and SOMA MATER focused on fostering trust through human to human relationships as a primary step to be taken towards better collaboration, which we believe will help in adapting to changing market dynamics and accelerating the transition to a regenerative economy. In a private gathering in collaboration with Metabolic, Climate-KIC, Pyxera Global and other systems transformation agents, we explored ambitious and innovative approaches to tackle challenges that surpass the capacity of a single entity.

In a bid to amplify community voices and democratize access to the climate sphere, we opened our Dubai Hub to our community members, providing a platform for them to express their perspectives through the application of design, regenerative thinking, and future foresighting. Below you can find some highlights from our sessions.


Exploring regenerative leadership models

The transition to regenerative design signifies a fundamental change in our approach to creation, innovation, and problem-solving. This paradigm shift is deeply connected to a more extensive reformation of thought and values, constituting what can be referred to as our overarching worldview. To touch upon these themes, we hosted "Empowering Climate Pioneers", with the Co-Founder of SOMA MATER, Dr. Majid Al Qassimi and Group CEO Khaled Al Huraimel from BEEAH Group for a panel moderated by our own Head of Sustainability Gulin Olcer, and Head of Academy in the Middle East, Nadia Muijrers to underline the importance of entrepreneurial and start-up mindsets within organizations to test new approaches and iterate. We joined Urban Settlements for Transformation together with Climate-KIC, discussing with panelists Sheela Patel, Sean Southey, Mariana Maraschin, Jayne Engle and our Director of Academy Mert Cetinkaya, that indeed "nature is a teacher, nature is a school yard" and that "relationships that are created during initiatives are just as important as the initiatives themselves". Women's Leadership for Climate, NextGen Leaders and our Regenerative Community Jam were all other events that took place in our ATÖLYE Dubai Hub focusing on the importance of community voices being amplified. This is something we must continue to aspire towards.

Adopting a systems change approach

Addressing the challenges of climate change requires a systems change approach as all issues are intertwined with each other. We recently demonstrated how a systems approach can be leveraged for effective solutions in our work with ne'ma in partnership with UAE MOCCAE.

The "Less Food Waste, More Action" panel we hosted during COP28 at the Actionist Hub emphasized the importance of a shared vision and collaboration for systems change. Moderated by our Head of Sustainability, Gulin Olcer, we hosted Khuloud Hasan Al Nowais, Secretary General of ne'ma, the UAE National Food Loss & Waste Initiative, Dr. Martin Frick, Director at World Food Programme Global Office Berlin, Wardah Malik, CEO of BEworks and Eva Gladek, founder and CEO of Metabolic. Participants shared perspectives on addressing food loss issues in the Global South, food waste issues in hospitality and households, behavior changes that are contextualized to different behavior patterns and the use of different system mapping tools and technologies to identify hotspots. What we were all reminded to embrace is so fundamental to our existence: "food is a blessing", and must be treated as such.

Leveraging technology for inclusive spaces

During our "Leveraging AI for Smarter Urban Design" panel in collaboration with Gehl - Making Cities for People and the kyu Collective, we had discussions on how urban environments can be enablers for change, and how artificial intelligence can help connect the dots between human, machine and plant intelligence to support transformation towards more sustainable and inclusive urban design. Research Scholar at MIT Claudia Dobles, Partner and Chief Innovation Officer at Gehl, Jeff Risom, Founder of World Enabled and Inclusive Cities Lab, Victor Santiago Pineda, and Head of Climate Risk Advisory and Catastrophe Analytics at Aon, Liz H. shared insights on the role of technology moderated by our Director of Architectural Design Güray Oskay. We must focus on the biases of these technologies sooner rather than later to ensure that everything we design is accessible to all.

We know there's a lot to digest (and that we're all being bombarded by post-COP28 news) but essentially, what we're trying to say is, the climate crisis is too big of an issue to tackle alone. Multiple polarities exist: The need to express the I alongside the need to transcend towards the We. The irony is visible - that we cannot solve the problems with the same mindset that created it: so, please get in touch to see how we can change these mindsets, and take action, together.

In the meantime, subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with all of our upcoming updates and to get access to the full versions of our panels!

Special thanks to our community: Women's Environmental Leadership Australia She is Arab, The Why Impact Consulting, Asmaa Guedira, Melissa Saoudy, Samar Alshorafa, Sana Kapadia, School of Humanity, Sangha "Estidama Hub", Keynoverse Association of Professional Futurists - APF,One Young World MENA, ChangemakerXchange, Neol, Seren Dalkiran, Ph.D., john a. sweeney, Raghad Fathaddin, Baliqees Salaudeen-Ibrahim, Sarah Alharthey, Ayesha Farhan, Mert Cetinkaya, Nadia Muijrers, Vrishank Sai Anand, Regenerative Design Academy, Josine Bakkes.