CALGARY -- Michael Batas is a 21 year old Mount Royal University student working on his undergrad in international business.

In December he learned he was chosen to be one of eight Canadians to take part in the World Urban Forum.

The World Urban Forum was established in 2001 by the United Nations to address one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.

Convened by UN-Habitat, the forum is a high level, open and inclusive platform for addressing the challenges of sustainable urbanization.

It's also a remarkable opportunity for a young student to swap ideas and emails with like-minded citizens from across the planet.

“The forum really is an international dialogue put on by the UN to really focus on the idea of rapid urbanization in global centres,” said Batas.  “More than 54 per cent of the worlds population now lives in an urban centre so the idea of how we can address that and mitigate issues around environmentalism and climate change and also overpopulation -- to do that in a sustainable but also fair and equitable manner is super important.”

Batas heads to Ottawa to meet up with the rest of the Canadian delegation February 3.  There, the group will form a strategy on how they want to present themselves and be heard.  They then head to Abu Dhabi for the forum, which takes place from February 8 to the 13th.

“The way I look at it, the world really is your oyster," said Batas. "The more lines you put down, the more fish will bite, so I’m just trying to gain as much experience as I can right now while I’m still in my undergrad, so (that)  by the time I graduate, I’ll have real world experiences in addition to a degree as well."

Batas global journey has caught the attention of the faculty at the school.

“Having a young person from Calgary in a world conference on sustainability issues is a fantastic opportunity for Canada because Canada’s voice can be represented,” said Mount Royal University lecturer J. Ashley Nixon.

Batas is one of Nixon’s students in his sustainability class.

“I really am proud of what he does because he takes so much personal pride in his learning and development and he’s prepared to exchange that with other students, exchange that with me and find out more,” said Nixon.

Batas says he’s excited to be part of the forum and wants to share what he learns in Abu Dhabi back home to Calgary.

Learn more about the forum here: