SARA ALZAABI (ABU DHABI)
Unveiling its transformative vision during a captivating workshop at the World Environmental Education Congress 2024 (WEEC) held at ADNEC, the remarkable initiative known as “Hold That Drop - Water Conservation Initiative”, outlined a dedicated endeavour to reshape the landscape of water conservation.
At the forefront of this movement is Janya Bhatt, a 17-year-old student hailing from Abu Dhabi Indian School, with a fervent commitment to raising awareness about water consumption and wastage. Launched under the guidance of Principal Mr. Neeraj Bhargava on November 8, 2018, the initiative aims to spur tangible behavioural changes, paving the way for a sustainable future.
In an interview with Aletihad, Bhatt, whose passion for environmental conservation is rooted in a deep sense of human responsibility, said: “Witnessing the environmental challenges faced globally and recognising the urgent need for sustainable practices, I became driven to actively contribute to creating positive change. This passion has led me to engage in various initiatives and volunteer work focused on environmentalism.”
Immersing itself in a profound commitment to environmental consciousness, “Hold That Drop” is a journey rooted in a deep wellspring of inspiration. Drawing from the visionary principles of sustainability championed by the Founding Father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a revered figure in environmental stewardship, this transformative initiative found its guiding force in his enduring legacy.
Reflecting on this inspiration, Bhatt said: “His principles of sustainability served as a guiding light for our school community. Recognising the critical role of water in our region, the initiative aimed to foster a sense of responsibility and critical thinking regarding environmental issues.” This narrative encapsulates the essence of a visionary initiative inspired by a legacy of environmental leadership.
Embarking on a transformative odyssey since its inception, the initiative has undergone a substantial evolution. Reflecting on this journey, Bhatt remarked: “Since its launch, the initiative has achieved noteworthy milestones, notably the Guinness World Record attempt on November 27, 2018. Here, 998 students united to craft the largest human image of infinity, symbolising the perpetual cycle of water.”
On November 27, 2018, the Guinness World Record attempt unfolded as a pivotal chapter in the “Hold That Drop” water conservation initiative. “The infinity loop symbolised the indefinitely continuing water cycle, imparting the message, ‘We must save water and respect water resources.’ This event held immense significance, capturing attention and heightening awareness about the critical importance of water conservation,” she said.
Beyond the confines of the school, the initiative’s impact resonated profoundly during a dynamic “human chain” event on February 7, 2020, spanning from Al Sahil to Al Bahar Corniche. Involving approximately 8,000 participants, this event served as a powerful testament to the urgency of conservation and underscoring the initiative’s unwavering commitment to driving meaningful change.
Reflecting on the event’s significance in intensifying the message for water conservation, Bhatt said: “The human chain event on February 7, 2020, was a remarkable display of unity and commitment to water conservation… this event physically connected people, magnifying the urgency of water conservation and fostering a sense of collective responsibility.”
Embarking on the initiative brought forth its fair share of challenges, demanding a harmonious blend of determination and collaboration. Overcoming logistical and organisational hurdles emerged as a testament to the efficacy of teamwork and the steadfast support extended by the school administration, teachers, and external partners, she said. “This collective approach strengthened our ability to address challenges and ensure the initiative’s success,” Bhatt added.
The narrative of the initiative’s success goes beyond the goals achieved; it resides in the resilience displayed when confronted with challenges. Reflecting on this, Bhatt remarked: “Successfully navigating these challenges was a true team effort, and the support from our school administration and external partners was instrumental in overcoming obstacles.”
Revealing the collaborative efforts and partnerships with various organisations to amplify the reach and impact of the initiative, she shared: “Our school is part of the sustainable schools initiative by the EAD [Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi]. We have collaborated with the EAD, EEG [Emirates Environmental Group], Connect With Nature, Jane Goodall’s Roots, and the Shoots Program. We have participated in the Junk Kouture International Sustainable Fashion Design Competition, Climate Ambassadors Program, and American University of Sharjah Environment Day Quiz.”
Exploring the future trajectory of the initiative and unveiling upcoming projects and events, Bhatt said: “The future of the initiative involves continuous efforts to promote water conservation. Upcoming projects include further community engagement, awareness campaigns, and leveraging technology through the ‘Save Water App’ to ensure a lasting impact on future generations.”
“Our school is currently in the planning stages for another Human Chain Event. The vision is to create a ripple effect that extends beyond the school community, influencing broader societal attitudes towards water sustainability,” she added.
Concluding with a message for other educational institutions or communities embarking on similar efforts, she advised: “I would emphasise the importance of collaboration, innovation, and consistent engagement. Every small step counts, and by working together, we can make a significant difference in securing the future of our planet. Remember, this is just the beginning of a journey towards a more sustainable and environmentally conscious world.”