Abu Dhabi, January 20th , 2023: The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) participated in a series of sessions at the Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S) event that took place during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from the 14th-19th January 2023.
On 16th January, EAD was part of the ‘World Climate Simulation’ session – a group role-playing exercise that was focused on international climate change negotiations. The session provided participants with the chance to explore the risks of climate change and the challenges of negotiating international agreements to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
In a live, face-to-face setting, participants played the role of negotiators representing countries and regional blocs that need to work together to create an agreement that limits climate change by reducing GHG emissions. Proposals were tested using a climate policy simulation model that provided participants science-based feedback on the implications of their proposals for atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, global mean surface temperature, sea level rise, and other impacts.
The facilitators of the event included the EAD Youth Council, the UAE Climate Change Special Envoy Office, and Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy. The simulation provided participants with an opportunity to gain insights into the carbon and climate system, as well as the social and international geopolitical dynamics of the climate challenge. It also offered a non-dogmatic experience for participants, who got to think about and explore for themselves their possible role in addressing climate change, and experiment in a role-playing environment on how to advocate for positive action. Moreover, it also presented an opportunity for the role players to take what they have learned and translate it into real-world action.
Another session at ADSW, featuring an expert from EAD, was the ‘Blue Carbon Habitats and Nature-Based Solutions’. The conversation saw Maitha Al Hameli, Section Manager – Marine Assessment and Conservation Team from the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD joined by Jane Glavan, Co-Owner of Distant Imagery.
The panel discussion was moderated by a member of the EAD Youth Council, and explored what nature-based solutions are, how they are applied in the UAE, and why Blue Carbon is one of the most important and effective nature-based solutions in combating climate change. The session also highlighted how mangroves are playing a key role in mitigating the effects of climate change, and delved into how to harness technology and innovation to enhance, protect, preserve, and restore blue carbon habitats – both in the UAE and internationally.
The discussion also helped to introduce youth to the concept of nature-based solutions and new ways of working in conservation, as well ways to enhance their work through the use of cutting-edge and contemporary technology and innovative tools.
A third session on 17th January – ‘EAD’s 2022 Survey: Capturing the Voices of Youth on Climate Change’ – was led by Khansa Al Blouki, Director, Environmental Outreach, Environmental Information, Science and Outreach Management Sector at EAD, who shared highlights of the UAE’s largest ever climate change youth survey that was undertaken in the latter part of 2022.
During the session, she presented the results of the survey in which 4,210 school and university students and employees from various emirates participated. The majority of the participants (about 74%) believed that climate change affects their daily lives.
Ahmed Baharoon Executive Director of Environment Information, Science Outreach Management Sector at EAD, said: “The youth is one of EAD’s main stakeholders as they are the leaders of the future. We are constantly preparing them to take the lead and become positive and pro-active advocates of change, who recognise the importance of conserving the environment and managing our natural resources in a sustainable and effective manner. It is for these reasons that we were keen to take part in, and be an integral part of, the Youth 4 Sustainability event at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.”
He added: “It is our job to provide platforms for young people and give them an opportunity to have their voices heard because they will be continuing the work that we are doing. They are the ones who will be ensuring that sustainability is prioritised for decades to come on the national agenda. Through their dynamic and creative perspectives there is a lot we can learn from them, and we did just that at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.”