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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Exclusive: Mentorship programme to help UAE youth achieve climate goals

Young people will be connected with decision-makers to achieve their climate goals, Naser Al Wasmi writes from Bonn

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, speaks at a panel during Cop23 in Bonn on Wednesday. Seen with Adnan Amin, director-general of Irena (right). Courtesy Irena
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, speaks at a panel during Cop23 in Bonn on Wednesday. Seen with Adnan Amin, director-general of Irena (right). Courtesy Irena

A youth mentorship programme that connects young people with policy-makers to develop and achieve climate goals was launched by the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment on Wednesday.

In collaboration with the Youth Climate Lab during Cop23, the solutions-orientated programme is an incubator for youth climate projects, which is working with MOCCAE to design and implement different initiatives to bring together government and international organisations.

It is hoped the programme will engage young people as the ministry said it “depends on the future generation to achieve the global climate agenda.

“What we’ve identified is that young people want to work with governments and they want to work with international organizations on climate change, we’re interested in exploring different ways we can do that,” said Dominique Souris co-founder and executive director of the lab.

Beginning in January of 2018, the programme will begin accepting applications to allow youth in the country a chance to work in a mentorship programme with the government.

Mentors from the government will work with young people in internal programmes and could even ask for the applicants to get involved in helping shape the UAE’s national climate agenda in regards to increasing its commitment to the Paris Agreement, which looks to reduce global warming to less than 2 degrees by 2050.

“We in the UAE, we always believe in youth and that they are responsible for our sustainable future, we’re here to take important steps in engaging them,” said Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

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Mentors will meet with the selected youth on a monthly basis and could even assign them a consultancy role for the ministry. Ideas worthy of implementation will be considered and even promoted through the UAE’s international environment agenda.

“Throughout the whole policy developments the last few years, youth have been very engaged in the policy developments and in the crucial topics in the country, we want to continue that,” he said.

More than thirty members of the UAE’s delegation in Cop23 are under 30 and are taking part in the negotiations in Bonn.

"The UAE really does invest in its youth, it empowers its youth and I think that this delegation is proof of that, the mentorship programme will help close the loop in terms of involving and engaging us in policy making in terms of climate change, and address issues greater than all of us," said Ayesha, a representative of the UAE Youth Council present at Bonn.

However, the ministry is not merely including youth to avoid a situation whereby disengagement leaves them feeling uninformed and disenfranchised from decision-making processes, they believe young people have skills that are unique to them.

“Our education was very different from yours [the youth], very structured very hierarchical, one of the wonderful things for me to interact with youth is how flexible your educational systems are and how current the issues you’re learning about and the energy and vitality with which you work,” said director-general of Irena, Adnan Amin.

He said since climate change is a concern that future generations will face, it is imperative that young people get involved in shaping their own future.

“One of the most exciting things for me is how many young people are working on specific solutions,” he said.

Youth, with their current technological literacy and their inherent understanding of climate change are geared towards tackling the subject not when they are older but today, according to Mr Amin.

The UAE aims to source 27 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2021 and 50 percent by 2050.

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