The UAE has set out a green vision to forge a legacy of climate action for generations to come, after unveiling new eco-strategies aimed at schools and young entrepreneurs.
The Ministry of Education on Thursday announced a partnership with the UN's children’s fund to drive key programmes on teacher training, a children’s art competition, and a “net-zero heroes” initiative.
Further details on the schemes will be revealed before Cop28, which is being held at Expo City Dubai from November 30 to December 12.
On Wednesday, the ministry said it was joining forces with philanthropic organisation the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation to focus on sustainability, climate action and educating youth on the impact of climate change.
The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation aims to empower Emirati and Arab youth through education, so that they can thrive and contribute to the development of the region.
The ministry's agreements with Unicef and the Al Ghurair Foundation are part of the UAE’s wider green education strategy.
In April, the Ministry of Education announced a Green Education Partnership with Unesco, the UN's education, arts, sciences and culture agency.
This offers schools across the UAE a national framework to support climate education and action among young people.
Also in April, the ministry announced that as many as 1,400 head teachers and 2,800 teachers will be trained with the goal of ensuring half of the country's schools and campuses are green accredited ahead of Cop28.
Professional development opportunities will be offered to teachers and head teachers in the UAE, in co-operation with Unicef.
“This partnership will empower educators to raise climate change awareness among learners,” said Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, assistant undersecretary for the care and capacity building sector at the ministry.
“It will also nurture environmental awareness and sustainability skills, preparing learners to lead the UAE's future sustainability efforts.
“The Ministry of Education will continue to form local and international strategic partnerships to organise programmes fostering climate awareness among youth, adolescents and children before, during and after Cop28,” she added.
Driving the green economy
The Al Ghurair Foundation will organise climate action and sustainability-focused workshops and boot camps that combine the environment and entrepreneurship.
In the “eco-preneurship boot camp”, adults aged between 18 and 35 will learn about creating businesses that solve climate issues. Winning teams will have their ideas showcased at Cop28, and one team will be selected to receive long-term advice and support post Cop28.
Impact beyond Cop28
Sonia Ben Jaafar, chief executive of the Al Ghurair Foundation, said that while all eyes were now in Cop28, it was key to ensure efforts to protect the planet were sustained beyond the global event.
“We are partnering very closely with the Ministry of Education and there will be activities in every emirate that have to do with learning about how to how to understand climate change and its impact,” she said.
“We will continue to do this and we will be incorporating it into our other learner enrichment programmes across the nation and at that point it will be going to much larger numbers next year.”
This week, the Al Ghurair Foundation launched efforts to educate more than 1,500 people across the country on greening UAE communities, in collaboration with the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre, also known as Sheraa, sustainability and climate Action social enterprise Goumbook and Expo City Dubai.
Ms Al Shamsi said the partnership would provide pupils with the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions that would leave a positive impact on the environment.
“Partnering with the Al Ghurair Foundation to conduct a climate awareness workshop and entrepreneurship programme as part of greening education national plan, this is a significant step towards promoting environmental consciousness and empowering students with entrepreneurial skills,” said Ms Al Shamsi.
“This collaboration symbolises a shared commitment to fostering sustainable practices and equipping the younger generation with the tools necessary to tackle the challenges of the future.”