Environmental education in the United Arab Emirates is enacted through a variety of local, national, and international programs. Government organizations, such as Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi take a leading role in supporting this work and forming partnerships to foster engagement in environmental education. Programs such as the Enviro-Spellathon, the Sustainable Schools Initiative, and the Sustainable Campus Initiative are successful government-led initiatives that engage young people in environmental and sustainability education. Some non-governmental organizations based in the UAE, such as the Zayed Future Energy Prize, work to support environmental education internationally.
Policy & Practice
EE in K-12 Education
The United Arab Emirates engages schools in environmental education and sustainability practices through a number of key programs that share objectives at the local, national, and international levels. For example, the UAE’s Enviro-Spellathon is an eco-literacy program targeting students in elementary and middle school. Approximately 90% of the nation’s schools are engaged in the program. Perhaps the UAE’s most successful program, the Sustainable Schools Initiative, is already achieving significant positive outcomes. Schools that are involved in the program have demonstrated a concrete reduction in their ecological footprint, and the program’s “lead school” concept (wherein schools that have attained a certain level of sustainability adopt newer and younger schools to mentor), has increased participation in the Sustainable Schools Initiative to 60% across the country. The United Nations Environment Program has endorsed the quality of the Sustainable Schools Initiative and has recommended it be worth implementing at the regional level. In 2014, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, launched the Sustainable Campus Initiative to strengthen and build leadership capacity among youth studying at the institutions of higher education. The programs helps harness of the power of youth as change agents in society.
EE in the National Government
The UAE’s programs follow a multi-stakeholder engagement and a collaborative approach while implementing their educational initiatives. The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi has successfully partnered with at least six other government departments and entities, including educational authorities, private sectors, nonprofit organizations, and schools to implement environmental education initiatives.
This case study describes the successful work of Waterford Kamhlaba United World College, a high school in Swaziland, to develop and implement a sustainability and renewable energy plan.