30 specialists are addressing topics such as Intentional Parenting, Culture and Identity, and Sustainable and Family-friendly Cities Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Local and global specialists have gathered in Abu Dhabi to start work in the WED Innovation Lab, a new project to improve early childhood development.

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Chaired by Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, the World Early Childhood Development (WED) Movement aims to address challenges faced by children in Abu Dhabi and across the globe. The five-day event, which started on Monday, features over 30 local, regional, and international experts addressing topics such as: Intentional Parenting, Culture and Identity, and Sustainable and Family-friendly Cities.

Under the patronage of Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the initiative will be a cornerstone of Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Development Strategy for 2035.

Sheikh Theyab emphasised the support of the UAE’s leadership for the Early Childhood Authority (ECA), enabling it to fulfil the goals of the Early Childhood Development 2035 Strategy.

“International collaboration in early childhood development is crucial for our collective success. We are committed to fostering global partnerships and advancing scientific research to devise innovative, culturally-aligned solutions that resonate with Abu Dhabi’s strategic development objectives,” he said.

Sana Suhail, Director-General, Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, said: “The WED Movement’s Innovation Lab is a testament to our commitment to placing early childhood at the centre of the global agenda. Our collaborative efforts are geared towards enriching our youth’s lives, establishing robust education systems, and cultivating environments that foster familial and communal bonds.”

Participants in the WED Innovation Lab include experts such as Dr Mary Young and Cecilia Vaca Jones, who are “set to redefine problem-solving, ideation, and prototyping in early childhood development”. Field visits to local nurseries, schools, and cultural sites will provide these experts with insights into local socio-economic and urban design challenges.

The event will culminate in a presentation of final ideation prototype pitches to a distinguished jury, including Reem Al Hashimy, with the most viable outputs selected for piloting and implementation before the WED Forum in October.