The ‘Connect with Nature’ (CWN) Youth Leadership Bootcamp successfully closed its doors in August, having delivered a dynamic and educational experience to all participants. In partnership with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), 13 budding young environmentalists were trained by Emirates Nature-WWF and other experts from EAD.

The objectives of the CWN bootcamp are to continue evolving the ‘For Youth, by Youth’ movement and prepare youngsters to become advocates of change while leading the Green Youth Majlis and CWN’s youth community and the future-looking youth advisory council. The bootcamp also aims to further their knowledge and passion for conservation, as well as develop their project management and implementation skills.  

In addition to being awarded certificates, participating youth acquire knowledge on nature conservation in the UAE through several training sessions, enjoy exclusive field trips with experts, meet like-minded people and are offered leadership opportunities upon completion.

The bootcamp consists of three stages focused on skills, interactions and knowledge. The participants aged18 to 24 years, also learnt how to develop their leadership capacity in the fields of conservation, climate change, biodiversity and green economy.

At the bootcamp and as part of the CWN ‘For Youth, by Youth’ initiative, each participant was asked to prepare a project related to a conservation target that allowed them to apply the training they received during the camp. The goal was to provide solutions and recommendations on conservation issues, including single-use plastic waste and pollution, the fashion industry, as well as technology and innovation.

The in-depth training sessions allowed participants to discover how natural ecosystems contribute to everyone’s lives and how youth can help protect them. In addition, as well as understanding climate change and how human activities have contributed to the crisis while considering solutions.

The bootcamp also involved leadership and community training, equipping them with the necessary skills required to become conservation leaders and environmental spokespersons, as well as an air quality workshop, where they studied air pollution and air quality in the UAE, with a focus on the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The participants were also given a social media fundamentals workshop to help them gain the communications skills necessary to maximise their inspiring journey.

Within the duration of the bootcamp, the participants also visited Abu Dhabi Pearls Project to observe the production of oysters and cultured pearls and enjoyed a tour of the Ecyclex International Recycling facility which provides customised and comprehensive recycling solutions in the UAE and the region. A kayaking conservation activity allowed them to understand more about mangrove ecosystems. The activity also included an exercise to collect and remove litter and geo-tag data around litter, contributing to intel that has since informed national policies on single-use plastics.

Other activities aimed at enhancing the participants’ skills included a Youth Debate, which helped them develop effective critical thinking regarding primary environmental issues. The debate also sought to improve their oral and written communication skills, while learning effective tools for research, organisation, public speaking and team-building skills.

The course also included a module titled: ‘The Role of Youth in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals,’ allowing them to discuss their point of view on their role in achieving sustainable development goals and hear personal stories from CWN Ambassadors for Nature on their roles in the community. 

The participants were extremely pleased with their experience at the camp. “The bootcamp helped me to grow my feelings about nature,” said Sarfaraz Ahmad, while Aishah Aldhuhoori, said: “I hope, as a youth leader, that we inspire younger generations to be more active and move forward with this movement.”

Roudha Almehairbi added: “It’s very important for us to help protect and preserve nature for future generations”, with Oussama Jamal saying: “We, the youth, can make a change with our unique ambition and we can find solutions to multiple problems.” Nawal Almarzooqi summed up her experience by saying: “Nature is our mother; it keeps extending her hands for us to survive.”