As part of Year of Sustainability initiatives, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) announced, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MoE), Emirates Schools Establishment, and the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), that all schools in the emirate have now pledged to join EAD’s Sustainable Schools Initiative (SSI), globally recognised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This pioneering initiative will foster a culture of environmentally friendly practices across all schools in the UAE and establish a forward-thinking sustainable minded generation
To mark the occasion, ADEK hosted an event, the Private and Charter Schools Open Day, organised by EAD, to educate school principals and introduce them to SSI in a bid to encourage them to lead their students to adopt eco-conscious activities in their daily lives. At the event, school principals were inspired to teach students to be leading agents of change, who can create a future that places responsible environmental stewardship at the forefront. This was manifested by all principals present pledging to join SSI, complemented by a wider goal to foster greater sustainability awareness and to fully integrate related topics within school curricula.
The Private and Charter Schools Open Day was organised as part of EAD’s, MoE’s and ADEK’s ongoing efforts to align the educational ecosystem with national priorities, and raise awareness on environmental issues in the lead up towards COP28. During which, youth in their significant role as future leaders, will offer solutions to combat climate change. For the first time in the global forum’s history this year’s event will include an Education Pavilion, providing a platform for educating and inspiring the world about the UAE’s climate change education.
Earlier this year, MoE announced the UAE's Green Education Partnership Roadmap in preparation for COP28 UAE, a key initiative aimed at enhancing the role of education in achieving sustainable development goals and incorporating the climate agenda into the UAE’s educational system. Through its commitment to achieving the Green Education Partnership goals, MoE will work across four pillars: Green Schools, Green Education, Green Capacity Building, and Green Communities.
Ahmed Baharoon, Executive Director of Environment Information, Science Outreach Management Sector at EAD, said: “We are convinced that the next generations will be the key players in steering the world towards a more sustainable future – one that places the environment at the top of all national agendas. Therefore, we believe that we need to reach them as early as possible and impart important knowledge during their education and foster habits that help them care for the environment, combat climate change and protect the world’s natural resources.
“At EAD, we have been doing this for decades since the launch of our Sustainable Schools Initiative (SSI) in 2009 where we had set a target of enlisting all schools in Abu Dhabi. Today we have realised this ambitious goal, but it does not stop there. We have also set another target of having 700 schools from all across the UAE to join the Sustainable Schools Initiative by the end of this year and I am optimistic that we can achieve this noble goal. This is evident from the positive cooperation I have seen today from our partners, the Ministry of Education and the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, as well as all the principals who joined us on this very important day.”
During the event, Ahmed Baharoon gave a presentation on EAD’s SSI, which was recognised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2015 and declared an innovative model for education in sustainable development and recommended that the initiative be applied all around the world.
He also announced that EAD will be hosting the 12th World Environmental Educational Congress, in January 2024 and he urged schools to submit applications for abstracts allowing them to share their knowledge and play a significant role at the congress.
Her Excellency Dr Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education for the Care and Building Capacity Sector, said: “Embedding sustainability as a key component in education is vital for a compelling vision of an interdisciplinary, learner-centred approach to empowering students to advance a pro-social and environmental agenda in their communities and personal lives. At the Ministry of Education, we will exert all efforts to enhance the role of education in addressing the climate crisis and highlight the progress made by the UAE in the field of climate change. As such, we will develop environmentally friendly educational materials, curricula and schools, and we will equip educators with the professional training they need to effectively impart knowledge and skills to students, who will capitalise on the learnings they will gain through education to build a prosperous future.”
The principals heard from Her Excellency, who presented the recently announced Green Education Partnership Roadmap for schools in preparation for COP28 UAE. The pioneering pathway is expected to transform 50 per cent of the country’s schools and campuses to be green accredited, with 35 per cent of schools to be registered by the end of 2023.
Her Excellency also presented the four pillars of the Green Education Partnership Roadmap. These include: Greening Education and Green Schools, which focuses on adopting a lifelong learning approach that integrates climate education into educational curricula and develops students’ skills required by the labour market. While Green Capacity Building and Green Communities, places schools at the heart of the community and aims to involve all segments of society in achieving green education.
Her Excellency Khuloud Al Dhaheri, Executive Director – Education Partnership Sector at ADEK, said: “Education is not just about imparting knowledge, but also about adopting values and skills that promote a better world. Sustainability, a core value engraved in the enduring legacy of Sheikh Zayed, is essential to secure a sustainable future for generations to come. As educators, we have a unique opportunity to model and promote sustainable practices and climate actions within our school community and beyond, inspiring our students to become environmentally conscious and responsible leaders of tomorrow.”
The open day concluded with a networking session that saw school principals impart their knowledge, share their experience and offer their creative ideas for implementing sustainability in UAE schools successfully with maximum impact.