x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Green Sheikh works to raise awareness of waste

Sheikh Abdulaziz urges consumers to consider how they will dispose of the product before making a purchase.

DUBAI // Whenever he buys something, the Green Sheikh says he always thinks about how he will eventually dispose of it. 

Sheikh Abdulaziz al Nuaimi, whose environmental activities have gained him a reputation for being down-to-earth, is on a mission to persuade young male Emiratis to also consider what happens to a product after it is thrown in the bin. "It is the men especially who do not realise the consequences," he said.

Sheikh Abdulaziz will address waste consumption at the Global Environmental Salon on Sunday, which will showcase environmentally-friendly products and workshops, as well as technology that uses solar energy and human waste to produce electricity. The exhibition will be hosted by the Zayed Environmental Impact Network and www.350.org, an international grassroots campaign, at Zayed University's Dubai campus.

Environmentalists will speak on topics such as reducing the country's carbon footprint, the impact of daily food choices on the environment and the importance of educating people - especially children - on environmental and energy issues. "We need to focus on individual consumption and individual lifestyles, and it is the young men who need to take the initiative for their families," Sheikh Abdulaziz said.

His passion about climate change took him to Antarctica earlier this year, where he studied the effects of global warming. He is also involved in the building of a sustainable charity hospital in Ajman, but says he is most focused on changing the behaviour of each and every individual. "We don't need new technology or alternative energy as much as we need people to realise what is happening to our world," he said.

"We can talk about our problems, create policies and make laws, but it's people's day-to-day decisions that make things so complicated and require creative solutions. We don't need to force people, but powerfully persuade them in a gentle, smart way, and this weekend will be a small part of that broader effort." A similar environmental-sustainability event at Zayed University in May drew about 350 visitors. Dr Usama al Alami, an associate professor in health sciences and chair of the Zayed Environmental Impact Network, said he hoped to hold at least one more such event in the coming year.

"No government alone can tackle these issues unless each one of us acts responsibly," he said. Sunday will be recognised internationally by www.350.org as a day to celebrate climate solutions. Other experts speaking at the event, which begins at 9.30am, include Kenneth Volk, the head of Masdar Institute's outreach programmes, Dr Wafi Dawood, chairman of Dubai Quality Group, and Dr Joseph Bularzik, a professor of environmental health at Abu Dhabi University.

econroy@thenational.ae