The Award Ceremony of the 2023 International Awards for Excellence in Higher Education managed by the Center for Learning Innovations and Customized Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS) will take place on the 9th of March, 2023 in the fascinating city of Dubai, UAE. The second edition of the award will be accompanied by a symposium addressing the role of universities in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Higher Education Institutions have always played a crucial role in our society, economy and environment and contributing in addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges. They are seen as prime creators and originators of knowledge, research and innovation in today’s knowledge-based economy as well as a key player in educating new generations and developing the future workforce. Within the context of the 2030 agenda, they are pivotal to the achievement of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs which serve as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all through addressing the global challenges we face, including: poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice and quality education can help transform and shape the purpose of our universities today. Higher education has the ability to support both directly and indirectly the achievement of these goals; this implies the pressing need to obtain a deep understanding on how universities can transform themselves through a stakeholders’ approach and contribute to the SDGs in terms of research, engagement with the community, teaching and learning and curricula design, among others. They need to identify priority action areas and mobilize resources, promote advocacy and engagement and determine appropriate mechanisms to monitor and evaluate their progress and achievements against the SDGs.

What can the universities do to achieve the SDGs?

Equip students and the wider community with the knowledge, skills, and motivation tounderstand and address the SDGs

Create opportunities for student training and building professional skills in developing countries to meet challenges related to the SDGs.

Support the full spectrum of research work needed to address the SDGs, including interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research.

Foster innovative solutions for sustainable development.

Align university governance structures and operational policies with the SDGs


  • Provide a dynamic and open platform to share and discuss contemporary practice and initiatives in sustainable education
  • Discuss how higher education is transforming itself and gearing up its activities to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals laid out by the 2030 Agenda.
  • Identify the key challenges and barriers stand in the way of transformations needed to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs
  • Provide evidence-informed examples and ideas for universities to integrate sustainability in the institution’s strategy and activities
  • Examine the key leadership and governance principles and practices required to leading sustainability as a core purpose of Higher Education.
Event Program
1:30 PM Registration
02:00 PM Welcoming Note:
Dr. Narimane Hadj-Hamou, CEO, CLICK
02:15 PM Key Note Address 1
Dr. Peter J. Wells, Chief, Higher Education, UNESCO, Paris., France
02:45 PM Panel Discussion
Higher Education’s Role in Securing a More Inclusive and Sustainable Future: An Emerging Need to Act and Transform
Prof. Ghassan Aouad, President, Applied Science University, Bahrain
• Patrick Paul Walsh. Director, SDG Academy, Ireland
04:00 PM BREAK
04:15 PM Key Note Address II
The Role of Leadership and Governance in Advancing Sustainability
04:45 PM Best Practices Panel
Transforming Higher Education to Contribute to Sustainable Development Goals [4 case studies]
Dr. Narimane Hadj-Hamou, CEO, CLICKS, UAE
• Prof. Barney Glover, Vice-Chancellor and President, Western Sydney University, Australia
05:45 PM BREAK
Dr. Peter J. Wells, Chief, Higher Education, UNESCO, Paris., France
06:00 PM Award Ceremony
– Opening Remarks
– Sponsors’ Recognition
– Presentation Ceremony
07:00 PM Closing Remarks
07:10 PM Dinner and Networking


Peter J. Wells

Chief, Higher Education, UNESCO, France

Since 2016, Peter has lead UNESCO’s priority area of quality higher education with an emphasis on widening access, quality assurance and academic mobility, the latter reinforced by the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education adopted in 2019. Dr. Wells’ current priority is UNESCO’s 3rd World Conference on Higher Education which will take place in Barcelona in May 2022 – a key landmark event which takes place once every 10 years and which will set the roadmap agenda for higher education for HE and the 2030 SDG Agenda. He also co-leads on the UNESCO Qualifications Passport for Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants initiative that aims to support access to learning and employment opportunities for displaced persons. Prior to taking up his current post, Peter was a Higher Education Specialist and Director of the UNESCO’s European Centre for Higher Education for ten years. He is the author of strategy papers and monographs on the topic of higher education reforms, quality assurance, and inclusion in national HE systems. Originally from the UK, Peter has taught at the HE and TVET levels in the USA, Poland, the UAE and Romania. He holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and a PhD in Quality Enhancement of Higher Education Systems.


Patrick Paul Walsh

Vice President of Education, The Sustainable Development Solutions Network Director of the SDG Academy, Dublin, Ireland

Patrick Paul Walsh is the Vice President of Education at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and is the Director of the SDG Academy. He is on secondment from University College Dublin where is a Full Professor of International Development Studies and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies in UCD, Dublin. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has held academic positions in Trinity College Dublin, K.U. Leuven, Harvard University and Columbia University. He has also held positions in the United Nations, European Commission, IMF and World Bank. His current focus is on Sustainable Development Education that is informed by Science, Practice and Policy.

Prof. Barney Glover AO

Vice-Chancellor and President, Western Sydney University, Australia

Professor Barney Glover is the Vice-Chancellor and President of Western Sydney University. He commenced in this role on 1 January 2014. Professor Glover is an accomplished academic leader and experienced Vice-Chancellor. Previously Vice-Chancellor at Charles Darwin University from 2009 to 2013, he has a long record of success in university management and leadership, particularly in research, intellectual property management and major capital development projects. Professor Glover also has significant business leadership credentials through having served on the boards of a range of corporate organisations and several state and national centres covering areas such as health and medical research, energy, mineral exploration and processing and telecommunications.

Prof. Ghassan Aouad

President, Applied Science University, Bahrain


Professor Ghassan Aouad has been the President of Applied Science University since November 2014. He spent five years in the Department of Civil and Building Engineering of Loughborough University, where he obtained his MSc in Construction (1987) and his PhD entitled Integrated Planning Systems for the Construction Industry (1991). In 1992, Professor Aouad joined the University of Salford as a Research Fellow and progressed through to the role of Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Dean of the College of Science & Technology before he left in December 2011. During that time, he successfully supervised 24 PhD students, externally examined 52 PhD students, authored 3 major research books and co-authored one book, generated more than £10M in research funding as Principal Investigator and £8M as Co-Investigator, published 92 papers in top rated refereed journals, delivered more than 50 keynote speeches and invited lectures, and presented his work in more than 42 countries. In January 2012, he became President of the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) and in May 2013, he became Vice President for Academic Affairs at Gulf University for Science & Technology (GUST) based in Kuwait. Furthermore, Prof Aouad was appointed as Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) in March 2010 and became President in June 2014 for a year. In July 2016, Professor Aouad received an Honorary Doctorate of Technology from Loughborough University in the UK.

Dr. Narimane Hadj Hamou

Founder & CEO, CLICKS, UAE


Dr. Hadj-Hamou is the Founder and the CEO of the Center of Learning Innovations & Customized Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS) ; in her capacity as a CEO she both leads the center and is involved in large scale consulting and training projects with universities from more than 11 countries. Prior to that she was the Provost of the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University in Dubai, UAE where she has established and led the academic, research and eLearning vision of the first online University to be recognized and accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the UAE. She has assumed a number of leadership roles and served as a senior advisor and consultant to numerous HEIs and organizations including UNESCO. Drawing on over 20 years of experience Dr. Hadj-Hamou expertise and professional background span areas such as technology integration and e-learning in higher education; teaching and learning, quality assurance and accreditation and governance. She has been the driving force in the promotion of online education and blended learning in the Region since 2004 and led a number of pioneering projects and initiatives such as the Middle East e-learning Association (MEeA), the MENA Association of University Presidents and the MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum which she still chairs. Over the years she has delivered more than 250 keynote addresses and workshops and has been active in publishing articles, book chapters and case studies. In addition, she acts as an external reviewer for many accreditation agencies within the region and beyond. Dr. Hadj-Hamou was listed among the 200 most influential Arab Women by Forbes Magazine in 2014; have received the Arab Women Award for Education and the Influential Education Leaders Award at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Panel Discussion

Higher Education’s Role in Securing a More Inclusive and Sustainable Future: An Emerging Need to Act and Transform

The Panel will bring together leading experts to present and discuss universities’ approaches to the SDGs and how the sector can collaboratively work together to  create a more inclusive and sustainable future through embracing a holistic, transformative and cross-disciplinary, cross-boundary approach and set of actions. The experts on the panel will present strategies and frameworks for action that can be adopted to implement SDGs based on the UNESCO ESD for 2030 Roadmap. This includes but is not limited to the need for universities to  revise their institutional strategies in the context of the 2030 agenda, integrating stakeholders’ leadership in sustainability actions in particular students,implementing sustainable development goals in teaching, research and organization, etc. The Panel will also consider the key competences approaches for sustainability and how can institutions of higher learning monitor the SDGs and measure their impact.

Best Practices Panel

Transforming Higher Education to
Contribute to Sustainable Development Goals

This panel will present success stories on how higher education institutions are embedding sustainable development in their core mission, strategic priorities and key activities through a pragmatic and multidisciplinary approach. This includes research and innovations, institutional leadership and student initiatives, innovative practices in teaching and learning, large scale projects and other initiatives that higher education institutions are carrying out with the aim of implementing the 2030 Agenda.


Continuous exchange of ideas, good practices and cross-border learning are essential to understand global trends in advancing sustainability within the sector, identify challenges and their causes, and address pressing concerns. The symposium aims to attract:

  • Higher Education Leaders and Decision Makers
  • Government and industry representatives working with the HE sector on sustainability (i.e. environmental agencies)
  • Those leading sustainability efforts in their institutions
  • Researchers
  • Students as effective change agents (senior level)


The Symposium along the Award Ceremony and dinner are open with limited capacity to participants from among the higher education commonly.

Nominees for each of the award categories as well as members of the Executive Committee, Assessment Committee and Jury are entitled to complimentary admission to the event as communicated in the award documentation. Participants under this category must register online no later than March 1st, using the promotional code share with them.


With year-around sunshine, intriguing deserts, beautiful beaches, luxurious hotels and shopping malls, fascinating heritage attractions and a thriving business community, Dubai receives millions of leisure and business visitors each year from around the world.
Dubai has a warm, sunny climate that is ideal for tourism, with the period of November to March being one of the best periods for visiting Dubai as the weather is pleasant and visitors can enjoy many of the outdoor places and activities taking place.


• Burj Khalifa
• Dubai Marina
• Atlantis, Dubai
• Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
• Miracle Garden
• Museum Of The Future
• The Palm Jumeirah
• Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
• Mohamed bin Rashid Library
• Wild Wadi Water Park
• Madinat Jumeirah