The Ministry of Education (MoE) has announced the UAE's Green Education Partnership Roadmap in preparation for COP28. The announcement was made during a press conference held by the MoE at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, in the presence of His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of Education; Her Excellency Dr. Amna Al-Dahak Al-Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education for the Care and Building Capacity Sector; Mr. Salah Khaled, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for the Gulf States and Yemen ; and Ms. Jumana Haj-Ahmad, UNICEF Gulf Deputy Representative. Senior officials from the MoE and representatives from its local and international partners also attended the press conference.
His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi said that COP28 is important as it provides a roadmap for using education to achieve sustainable development goals and combat climate change. It also increases awareness about climate change and discusses projects to address its effects. He emphasized the importance of global cooperation to integrate the climate agenda into education and coordinate efforts to combat climate change.. He also noted that the UAE was keen to draw a practical and agile roadmap that countries across the globe can tailor, adapt to, and benefit from in educating students and educators about climate change.
His Excellency Dr. Al Falasi stated: “Individual behaviours toward climate change are still the key to making a real impact, and with that comes the significant role of education in shifting minds, actions, and attitudes about the environment today, and in the future. At the Ministry of Education, we have a critical role to play to advance the role of education in addressing climate change, by building environment-friendly curricula and schools and training educators to build sustainable green communities. The UAE's hosting of COP28 presents another opportunity to highlight the country's efforts in this field and mobilise international efforts to include green education within educational systems in the region and the world.”
Commenting on the launch of the Green Education Partnership Roadmap, Her Excellency Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, Vice Chairman of the Arab Youth Centre, and COP28 Youth Climate Champion, said: “Today, we equip our children and young people with the foundations of environmental education for them to build a safer future and make our world a better place. As such, our wise leadership pays great attention to educating young people and establishing a love of the land in their hearts so they can be tomorrow’s forerunners of environmental action.”
The roadmap includes the UAE Green Education Partnership, a key initiative aimed at enhancing the role of education in achieving sustainable development goals and including the climate agenda in the UAE’s educational system.
During the press conference, the MoE signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and an MoU with the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to advance climate education and action among children and youth in the lead-up, at and after COP28. The MoE also announced that it is designing the first Education Pavilion in the history of COP.
Mr. Salah Khaled, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for the Gulf States and Yemen, said that UNESCO is pleased to announce the collaboration with the Ministry of Education in the UAE to mobilise commitment on climate change and education at the forthcoming COP28. Under the leadership of the UAE, UNESCO will support the organisation of a high-level advocacy meeting with member states’ leaders on the role of education to tackle the climate crisis and convene the first co-creation meeting of the Greening Education Partnership (GEP) Multi-Partner Trust Fund. The Greening Education Partnership (GEP) was launched last year at the Transforming Education Summit with a specific focus on tackling climate change, one of the most pressing challenges of our time.
“UNESCO will work closely with the Ministry in co-designing the first Education Pavilion in the history of COP together with the Greening Education Partnership (GEP). Finally, UNESCO will collaborate with the Ministry on raising awareness of educators and learners about the importance of safeguarding oases, an exceptional eco-system and observatory of climate change, that is a common feature throughout several Arab countries”, Mr. Salah Khaled added.
Ms. Jumana Haj-Ahmad, UNICEF Gulf Deputy Representative, said: “We at UNICEF are pleased to join the Greening Capacities Initiative led by the Ministry of Education in the United Arab Emirates. We look forward to a strategic partnership that aims to provide children and young people with climate education and green skills, which are crucial to help them adapt to and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Through this partnership and in the lead up to COP28, UNICEF will support training of school principals and teachers in all of the schools of UAE on climate education. Open source learning materials will also be available for educators in the UAE and abroad.”
“At UNICEF we see the climate crisis as a crisis of children's rights. Nearly every child around the world is exposed to climate and environmental hazards. Children and young people will face the full devastating consequences of the climate crisis, water insecurity, and other disasters which they had little to no hand in causing. Therefore, our duty towards all young people and future generations is to involve them in all negotiations and decision-making processes related to climate change at the national, regional and international levels. The roadmap identified environment-and-climate-friendly initiatives that the MoE aims to achieve by the start of COP28 and afterwards. For instance, the MoE will transform 50% of all the UAE’s schools and campuses to be green accredited; and provide training to more than 2,400 educators and 1,400 principals. The ministry will also launch the “Children’s Voice” initiative, under which Children Champions in the country will be offered training opportunities to exercise their right to participate in decision-making related to their environmental future. Under the “Educator’s Voice” initiative, the MoE will highlight the key role of educators in raising awareness about climate change and combatting its repercussions. Both initiatives will contribute to magnifying the voices of more than 70 students and educators.
Additionally, the MoE will collaborate with UNESCO to establish a United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) for Greening Education, to which the UAE will act as a champion country, including developing the Terms of Reference for the Fund among the MPTF partners and working towards its capitalisation. Both parties will also raise awareness among learners about the importance of safeguarding oasis systems in the Arab world as cultural and natural eco-systems.
Through the MoE’s commitment to achieving the Green Education Partnership goals, the ministry will work across four pillars, namely Greening Schools, Greening Learning, Greening Capacity, and Greening Communities.