'Whatever path you choose in life, be a friend to the environment'

An open letter from the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment to our youth

Umm Al Quwain, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, AUGUST 18, 2016. Maitha Bin Sarm, 13, holds a painting she created, as part of the summer program organized by The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development in Um Al Quwain. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National (Reporter: Rezan Oueiti / Section: NA) JOB ID 62742 *** Local Caption ***  RM_20160818_STUDENTS_06.JPG

To our youth,

With the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, Cop26, in Glasgow approaching, people all over the world, especially the young, are demanding more robust and ambitious climate action.

In your own unique way, you have become our sustainability partners. As digital natives, you have harnessed the power of social media to raise awareness about our planet’s declining health.

And through your dedication to combat the climate crisis, you have forced changes to school curriculums, transformed perspectives, agendas, policies and leveraged technology to come up with innovative climate solutions.

In short, you have had a real impact on a cause in which you truly believe.

Your awareness of the challenges ahead and your passion to be part of the solution gives us hope for a brighter tomorrow.

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No one is too young to make a difference

In the UAE, we realised early on that our young people are the backbone of the environmental sustainability movement. Figuratively speaking, they are the ultimate source of renewable energy that, when properly channeled, can fuel the way to a sustainable and climate-resilient future.

Qualified, trained and empowered youth can have a major influence on all aspects of development. Innovation and technology skills are the most important in coming up with out-of-the-box solutions to sustainability challenges.

We are committed to bridging the gap between youth and policy makers, engaging young people in our fight against climate change at home and abroad, and ensuring that young voices are heard in shaping the future of our nation.

In this context, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment launched the Emirates Youth Climate Strategy that aims to develop environmental leadership skills among young people, promote their participation in decision making and climate action, and enable them to contribute to solving the environmental concerns of today and tomorrow. Young people played a key role in reviewing the UAE’s Nationally Determined Contribution – the country’s pledge to reduce its carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement – and the National Climate Change Adaptation Program, as well as in the preparations for the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting in 2019.

Furthermore, in the UAE, young people are always included in the country’s delegations to relevant international conferences and involved in climate negotiations. Just recently, Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, led the UAE delegation to the Milan Pre-Cop26 and Youth4Climate meetings. We support the highest levels of youth engagement in Cop28, which we are bidding to host in Abu Dhabi in 2023.

Today, the young generation is leading the way to a more sustainable world. And you too can be leaders of change. You can build the future you want to live in.

Earlier this month, we witnessed a bold new development in our climate efforts – the launch of the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative that aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. I would like to call on you to help us reach this ambitious goal.

Whatever path you may choose to take in life, remember to be a friend to the environment and make sustainable and responsible decisions. There are countless ways in which you can do your part. A few simple steps can go a long way. For example, you can take advantage of our public transport network, carpool with friends, reduce, reuse and recycle waste, and make sustainable choices while shopping. You can inspire your families, peers and wider communities to follow your example and create a domino effect. If each one of us makes these small changes, it will eventually amount to a bigger impact.

No one is too young to make a difference. And we are here to support your ambitions for a greener, healthier world. Under the guidance of our wise leadership, we are dedicated to helping you protect your future and the future of the generations to come.

I take this opportunity to assure you that we understand your concerns, and encourage you to step up and become sustainability advocates. After all, we only have one planet, so let’s take good care of it.

Published: October 27th 2021, 2:30 AM
Updated: October 28th 2021, 5:04 AM
Mariam Al Mheiri

Mariam Al Mheiri

Mariam Al Mheiri is the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Minister of State for Food Security