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Young voices and visionaries converge in Abu Dhabi for environmental education

Young voices and visionaries converge in Abu Dhabi for environmental education
30 Jan 2024 17:34


Abu Dhabi is alive with the diverse voices of young people from across the globe, as it hosts the third Youth Environmental Education Conference (YEEC). This important gathering is taking place concurrently with the 12th edition of the World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC), bringing together a global community focused on environmental education.

The World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) commenced in Abu Dhabi on Monday with a plethora of plenary sessions on environmental and sustainability education. This event, featuring esteemed global leaders from the UAE and beyond, operates under the theme "Connecting People, Creating Tomorrow".

Seamlessly integrated into the WEEC, the Youth Environmental Education Conference (YEEC) offers a dynamic platform to empower young voices in environmental education, providing them opportunities to express their thoughts, challenges, interests, concerns, goals, and recommendations for the way forward.

Aletihad spoke with two Emirati youth environmentalists on the YEEC Committee, which helps organise youth's involvement in the conference to ensure that their voices are heard.

Aisha Al Mazroui, 30, is a Youth and Community Analyst at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and a member of the YEEC Committee. Her strong passion for the environment drives her commitment to empower younger generations' sustainability efforts.

Al Mazroui described the current edition of the YEEC as "exceptional", highlighting features like an entire stand dedicated to youth, two workshop areas, an open stage, a podcast area, a message wall, and an exhibition area featuring the achievements of schools and universities under EAD's Sustainable Schools Initiative and Sustainable Campus Initiative, which currently include 460 schools and 28 campuses.

Capturing the voices of the youth, along with educators and experts, the YEEC features four to five sessions and running podcasts every day. Each day is followed by a debriefing meeting, which discusses the successful outcomes of sessions as well as areas of improvement. The fifth and final day of the conference will include a field trip, Al Mazroui noted.

The input gained from youth will be used to feed the Abu Dhabi roadmap in relation to long-term future environmental education plans, she said, noting that youth's exposure to current educational systems allows them to better determine gaps and suggest ways to enhance environmental education.

"Youth and children are the future, and their involvement is central to addressing environmental challenges and ensuring a better tomorrow," she added, noting that the YEEC Committee is composed of members ranging from 13 to 30 years old.

  • Young voices and visionaries converge in Abu Dhabi for environmental education


At just 17 years old, Abdulla Mohamed Alhaddadi is the second youngest member of the YEEC Committee, where he serves as a rapporteur. Alhaddadi is also involved in various EAD initiatives as a representative and an ambassador, but his environmental passion was first sparked at school when he was in the second grade.

During a science class on photosynthesis, Alhaddadi and his classmates were required to plant seeds in plastic cups and place them by the window to observe their growth throughout the academic year. That simple class assignment shaped his view of the environment, which he described as something "magical".

In conversation with Aletihad, Alhaddadi stressed the importance of uplifting young voices when it comes to environmental action, as they bring "unique" perspectives.

"Young voices matter, because they will be the ones greatly affected by the consequences of our actions today in this world," he said.

Alhaddadi added that giving the youth a platform to voice their concerns, express their ideas, and highlight their achievements empowers young voices, which are essential to achieving a more sustainable future.

According to Al Mazroui, a total of 76 confirmed youth speakers from more than 60 countries are expected to attend the WEEC in Abu Dhabi in order to discuss environmental education and ways to increase youth involvement in decision making processes.

The WEEC and YEEC will run until February 2 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

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