x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

New nationwide climate change campaign targets schoolchildren

Scheme will challenge students to reduce their schools' energy use and produce reports detailing their efforts.

DUBAI // The first nationwide campaign designed to raise schoolchildren's awareness of climate change has been launched by the Ministry of Education. The initiative takes the form of a two-part competition. It will challenge students aged 13 and 14 to reduce their schools' energy use and produce reports detailing their efforts. They will also take part in quizzes on climate change.

Sheikha al Shamsi, the executive director for educational affairs at the ministry, said the competition signalled the Government's commitment to educate children about climate change and energy conservation. "We are working on developing interest in students that climate change is the biggest global challenge we face," she said. "These competitions are important tools to raise awareness, and [they help] support the ministry in this new direction."

The overall winners will be rewarded with an "eco-makeover" for their school to help reduce its impact on the environment. The results will be announced next March. The competition is part of the Heroes of the UAE campaign, launched in February. The project aims to raise students' awareness about human impacts on the environment with a focus on energy and water resources and climate change. It is a joint venture between partners including the Ministry of Education, the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi and the Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS), the regional branch of the World Wildlife Fund.

Razan Khalifa al Mubarak, the managing director of the EWS, said raising awareness of energy efficiency was particularly significant in the UAE, given its high energy consumption. The most recent figures from the World Resources Institute, which works alongside the World Bank and the UN, show that in 2005 the UAE was the third-highest consumer of energy per capita in the world. "The Heroes of the UAE campaign will teach children the importance of conservation and the difference they can make," said Ms al Mubarak.

"Children are catalysts for changing behaviour in communities and we hope they will pester others to change their habits." To take part in the competition, schools must register through the Heroes website at www.heroesoftheuae.ae tbrooks@thenational.ae