The Department of Community Development, which serves as the regulator of the social sector in Abu Dhabi, held the inaugural Third Sector Forum in the emirate. The forum, organised under the slogan ‘Partners in Impact’, was held at Abu Dhabi Energy Center.
The Third Sector Forum was attended by HE Sara Musallam, Minister of State for Early Education, Chairwoman of Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the DCD; Her Excellency Salama Al Ameemi, Director General - Authority of Social Contribution - Ma'an, and a number of leaders in government and private sector, in addition to over 80 third sector entities.
The third sector plays a vital role in accelerating sustainable development in the emirate by integrating the work done across all relevant sectors, and through the implementation of initiatives and programmes.
With the overarching goal being to encourage companies to actively participate in identifying solutions to key societal issues, the inaugural edition of the Third Sector Forum featured a range of discussions and interactive workshops focused on the activation of the third sector and its significant contributions to society. Workshops were also held to encourage interaction between stakeholders, the ultimate aim being to establish priorities and operational initiatives for companies.
His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the DCD emphasised Abu Dhabi's commitment to fostering a comprehensive and sustainable renaissance in the emirate by creating an integrated regulatory environment that encourages participation and contributions from all sectors. This vision aims to enhance Abu Dhabi's position as destination for living, stability, and prosperity.
He stated: “Our leadership believes strongly in the importance of building a cohesive society and so have prioritised the creation of an integrated social system that improves the quality of life and promotes sustainable development. To achieve this, the DCD was established to be the regulator of the social sector, including NGOs.”
His Excellency added: “The DCD has actively supported NGOs as a crucial pillar of economic and social development. The third sector plays a pivotal role in finding solutions to social issues and challenges, and nurturing values of community participation, awareness, and responsibility, thereby continuously improving the social sector system.”
Al Khaili also stressed the significance of third sector institutions and their primary role in supporting the community with their diverse skills, experiences, and resources, all of which contribute to enhancing services and improving overall quality of life. He also highlighted the importance of community members' involvement in fostering the sector's growth through the establishment of public benefit associations and civil institutions across various sectors. He pointed out that the first third sector institution in Abu Dhabi dates back to 1975, when the Indian Social and Cultural Association - Abu Dhabi was first established.
Abu Dhabi has more than 143 third sector actors, 85 of which are Public Benefit Association, classified under various sectors, including: civil institutions, humanitarian institutions, communities, solidarity funds, public and cultural institutions, folk arts, theatre, and professional bodies, in addition to Social enterprise.
H.E. Salama Al Ameemi, Director General, The Authority of Social Contribution - Ma’an, extended her thanks and appreciation to the Department of Community Development for its efforts in organising this pioneering forum, which sheds light on the role of the Third Sector and its importance in achieving sustainable community development in the emirate.
Ma’an places an immense focus on building a collaborative, active and cohesive community in Abu Dhabi. With the priority to drive partnerships across the public, private, and social sectors, the authority enables and empowers the Third Sector of non-profits, social enterprises, and community volunteers through an extensive programme of sustainable and innovative funding mechanisms, aimed at addressing pressing social challenges in the capital.
She said: “Achieving the strategic goal of the Authority of Social Contributions - Ma’an, which aims to develop cooperative and cohesive societies, requires the presence of a strong and effective third sector which has a pivotal role in the development process.
Al-Ameemi continues: “The Authority attaches great importance to empowering and developing the capabilities and growth of non-profit institutions and social institutions through social incubation programs, accelerators, and grants. The grants offered by Ma’an aim to enable Third Sector agencies to launch community-focused programs that provide sustainable solutions and address a wide range of social priorities.”
His Excellency Mohamed Helal Al Balooshi, Executive Director of the Community Engagement and Sports Sector at DCD, expressed the department’s commitment to supporting the initiatives of the third sector and its strategic goals. He said the DCD works effectively to support and empower the third sector in order to achieve its objectives and effectively perform its role.
This support is provided through several means, including highlighting the initiatives it implements through continuous cooperation with officials, enhancing joint coordination, and motivating participants, especially as the department encourages associations of public interest and companies with a social purpose to enhance volunteering in order to serve the community, and improve social responsibility within the emirate.
Al Balooshi added that the DCD is keen to activate the role of the third sector and empower its institutions in accordance with international best practices, thus contributing to enhancing community contribution. He also praised the outstanding efforts made by the partners from the third sector, and the significant value of their cooperation in order to improve the quality of life in Abu Dhabi, laying the foundations for societal well-being for future generations.
Moreover, Al Balooshi highlighted the department's efforts to attract more third-sector institutions within the emirate, due to their tangible role in economic and social development. He also called on community members to work on addressing social issues through the establishment of third sector institutions.
The third sector system in Abu Dhabi
The forum witnessed the announcement of the third sector framework in Abu Dhabi, which aims to lay the foundations for an organised system of work for the third sector in the emirate. This will be done by formulating the sector's vision and strategic objectives while defining the baseline and future impact that will be seen through initiatives, charters and the roles played by partners from various authorities. This is being implemented to empower the third sector as a major partner for all sectors.
Al Balooshi spoke about the system, which is based on six main pillars that the government sector, private sector and the third sector collaborate under. The axes are: awareness, legislation, financing, capacity building, partnerships, and incentives. All the axes form systems that support the work of the sector and enable institutions to achieve their goals, unify efforts provided to associations, and achieve an integrated framework that supports the department’s aspirations to grow the third sector.
Launching the slogan of the Third Sector Forum
The Third Sector Forum saw the inauguration of the logo of the Third Sector Forum in Abu Dhabi. The logo is inspired by the principle of complementarity of roles and the interconnected fabric between all the elements. The overlapping squares that create rhombic shapes symbolise strength, unity, and cooperation that come together to create an impact on society.
Third Sector Forum methodology
Noura Al Hammadi, from DCD, reviewed the methodology of the Third Sector Forum, which is a road map that defines the objectives of the forum and the expected outputs. Al Hamadi stressed the importance of the forum in bringing together institutions from various sectors to discuss social priorities in Abu Dhabi, and work together to find effective and creative solutions for them. She also highlighted the role that the forum will play in shaping a better future for the third sector.
Participation of volunteers in organising the event
A number of volunteers licensed by the DCD and registered with the UAE Volunteers platform participated in organising the event, and did so with a high efficiency. The volunteers were assigned to supervise work teams and provide support throughout the event.
In the future, the forum will be held periodically with the aim of reviewing the developments of the sector in Abu Dhabi, due to its vital role in enabling community participation and contribution, especially since the department believes in the importance of close cooperation with stakeholders, which contributes to the development of society so that it benefits all its members.
The Third Sector Forum focuses its efforts on involving non-profit organisations, social institutions, relevant government agencies, the private sector, and the Abu Dhabi community in related activities by building an enabling ecosystem and increasing community interest and knowledge about the third sector.