Women in Energy: In conversation with Dr. Suzan Shahin on entrepreneurial solutions for environmental challenges

20 Feb 2024
Women in Energy: In conversation with Dr. Suzan Shahin on entrepreneurial solutions for environmental challenges

Dr. Suzan Shahin leads the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, at Umm Al Quwain University, a government university ranked among the top universities in the United Arab Emirates. 

Dr. Shahin holds a Ph.D. in Horticultural Science (2018) and a Master Degree in Environmental Sciences (2009). Her work is within multi-disciplines. She was one of the contributors to the first Emirati Landscape for an Educational Sector, located at the UAQU’s New Campus. She has also contributed to the EXPO2020 Dubai landscape.

Currently she is an active member in two research clusters of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment which includes Climate Change and Public Health, and Food and Water Security.

In this interview with E&U, she talks about the key pressing issues that the environment faces, with a focus on the solutions towards them.

“Entrepreneurs play a critical role in addressing today's environmental challenges by bringing innovative solutions to market, driving economic growth in sustainable directions, and challenging traditional business models,” she told Energy and Utilities.

What does innovation in environmental science mean to you?

Innovation in environmental science embodies the development and application of new technologies, methodologies, and approaches aimed at solving environmental challenges and improving the relationship between human activities and the natural world. It involves leveraging advancements in science and technology to create sustainable solutions that protect the environment, conserve resources, and ensure a healthier planet for future generations. Innovation in environmental science is not just about technological breakthroughs but also encompasses social, economic, and policy innovations that drive systemic change towards sustainability.

What do you think are the most pressing issues related to the environment that new ideas are needed?

The most pressing issues related to the environment today that urgently require innovative solutions include:

  1. Climate Change: Addressing the causes and impacts of global warming through renewable energy sources, carbon capture technologies, and sustainable urban planning.
  2. Biodiversity Loss: Developing strategies to protect and restore ecosystems and natural habitats, combating the extinction of species through conservation efforts and habitat restoration.
  3. Pollution: Finding effective ways to reduce air, water, and soil pollution, including innovative recycling methods, pollution control technologies, and sustainable waste management practices.
  4. Water Scarcity and Management: Implementing sustainable water use and management practices, including advanced water purification, desalination technologies, and smart agriculture techniques to ensure water security.
  5. Sustainable Agriculture: Innovating in agro-ecology, precision agriculture, and bio-based fertilizers to increase food production while minimizing environmental footprints.

Can you explain your view on how entrepreneurs can solve today's challenges?

Entrepreneurs play a critical role in addressing today's environmental challenges by bringing innovative solutions to market, driving economic growth in sustainable directions, and challenging traditional business models. They can leverage emerging technologies, create sustainable business practices, and influence consumer behavior towards more sustainable choices. Entrepreneurs also have the agility to adapt quickly to changing environmental needs and can often bridge the gap between scientific research and practical, scalable solutions.

You are a visionary, and I wanted to ask you more: what is the vision you have for women in sciences?

My vision for women in sciences is one of equality and empowerment. The field undoubtedly benefits from increased diversity, which brings a range of perspectives, ideas, and approaches to solving complex problems.

Do you think the field requires more women? 

The representation of women in environmental sciences and renewable energy is equally important to challenge stereotypes, encourage more inclusive research agendas, and ensure that solutions are comprehensive and considerate of diverse needs. Encouraging and supporting women in these fields can drive innovation further and lead to more robust, creative solutions to environmental challenges.

When do you think enough is done in innovation?

Innovation in environmental science and renewable energy is an ongoing process that evolves with our understanding of the planet's complexities and the impacts of human activities. Enough is done when we achieve a sustainable balance between human development and environmental preservation, ensuring a viable planet for future generations. However, given the dynamic nature of environmental challenges and continuous technological advancements, the pursuit of innovation is a perpetual journey. It's about constantly adapting to new information, striving for improvement, and seeking better ways to coexist with our natural environment.

In summary, innovation in environmental science is critical for addressing the pressing issues of our time. Entrepreneurs have a pivotal role in turning research into actionable solutions, and the field greatly benefits from the diverse perspectives women bring to the table. The journey towards sustainability and environmental stewardship is ongoing, and continuous innovation is essential for progress.


Dr. Suzan Shahin and many others will be speaking at Middle East Energy, the region's most anticipated energy event is all set to be back with its 49th edition, running from the 16th to the 18th of April 2024 at Dubai World Trade Centre.

The flagship energy event of the year will be the epicenter of opportunities for energy professionals from all over the world! And keeping in line with COP28, Middle East Energy 2024 will be bigger, better, and more focused on sectors that will cater to your energy needs.

This year Middle East Energy advocates how renewable energy, energy storage and digitalization are key to optimizing the region’s power ecosystem and ensuring self-sufficiency. Register now!

Energy & Utilities - Middle East and Africa Market, Outlook Report 2023.

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