UAE prepares youth to combat climate change
Determined to catch them young, the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is going all out to churn out a brigade of green warriors from the next generation. From adding eco-lessons in school curricula to arranging youth circle sessions and ensuring their presence in the decision-making process, the ministry is doing some of the exemplary work in the region.
Speaking to AMEinfo on the UAE’s various initiatives to fight climate change, a senior ministry official said the ministry was working to introduce climate change and sustainability issues into school curricula.
Make a difference
“Our aim is to teach schoolchildren from all ages about the science of climate change and the actions they can take, such as turning off lights and air-conditioning when not in use, and how to use less water,” Fahed Al Hammadi, Director of Climate Change and Lead Climate Negotiator, UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, said on Thursday.
Al Hamamdi also called on students to take part in the country’s sustainability efforts.
To start with, he said, students need to recognise and appreciate their importance in contributing to the solutions and raising awareness among their friends and families.
“There are simple tasks you can do to change your everyday behaviour, such as saving electricity, reducing water consumption, cleaning up beach pollution, lessening the dependence on plastic materials. While they may seem small, together, these acts make a great difference by changing our cultural and behavioural habits,” he said.
Further, he said that students should consider how they can integrate climate action and sustainability into their future careers.
“Whether students choose to pursue a career in clean energy, education, law, public service, or any another field, they can still be ambassadors for climate action and sustainability, by continuing to raise awareness and changing behaviour within their own organisations,” Al Hamamdi explained.
There are a number of key initiatives of the ministry that have started yielding rich dividends with some apparent differences.
Under the ambitious Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) programme, an outreach initiative of Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a significant number of students from the UAE and abroad have completed a year-long training, development and mentorship in the area of alternative energy and sustainability since it began in 2011.
Last November, a group of YFEL candidates were also included in the UAE delegation to the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Morocco.
“By engaging in these important meetings and negotiations, our youth act as ambassadors for the UAE, and also contribute to their own learning and capacity building.”
The ministry also holds regular youth circle sessions to engage with the country’s younger generation and hear about their concerns, contributions and innovative ideas.
More importantly, the UAE has the record of appointing world’s youngest minister, 22-year-old Shamma Al Mazrui, who is tasked with the important role of representing youth within the UAE federal cabinet.
As part of its climate change actions, the UAE has pledged to increase clean energy’s share of the national energy mix from 0.2 per cent in 2014 to 27 per cent by 2021.
Separately, Dubai has launched a $27.2 billion Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide seven per cent of the emirate’s energy from sustainable sources by 2020, raising that to 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.