Five schools in the UAE have won a global award for their efforts to protect the environment and tackle climate change.
Pupils at schools in the Emirates have introduced a host of eco-friendly practices, including developing green passports and using recycled water on school lawns.
Pristine Private School, in Dubai, Springdales School Dubai, Gems Millennium School – Sharjah, Shining Star International School in Abu Dhabi and Delhi Private School Sharjah have all been awarded The Climate Action Project School of Excellence.
Around the world, 250 schools were recognised for their work on climate education.
Schools in the Emirates were hailed for recycling strategies, planting trees, and using solar panels. Schools nominated themselves for their climate education work.
The prize was awarded by Cartoon Network and Climate Action Project, a pupil-centred project involving more than 2.5 million children in 135 countries and supported by governments in 15 countries. Climate Action Project works in collaboration with WWF and Nasa, and is endorsed by the primatologist and environmentalist Jane Goodall.
The awards were announced last week as world leaders, business chiefs and activists gathered at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
At Pristine Private School, environmental sustainability is integrated into the curriculum.
Teachers and school leaders encourage pupils to learn more about climate change and to raise awareness of environmental issues.
Pupil power leads the way
Tasneem Usman, head of senior school at Pristine Private School, said pupils had brainstormed solutions to environmental issues and focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“On World Food Day, the school focused on promoting wellbeing and health,” Ms Usman said.
“Pupils ran a community campaign where they collected and handed out packed items like rice, sugar and lentils to workers. Our pupils also participate in clean-up drives across the city.”
The school runs an initiative called Simply Bottles, through which they collect and recycle water bottles.
Pupils at Gems Millennium School Sharjah were honoured for their recycling project.
Every pupil at the school, from kindergarten to grade 12, is armed with a green passport in which to record their day-to-day recycling.
“What they [the awarding body] appreciated most was that instead of just discussing possible solutions, the children were taking a lot of action,” said principal Teresa Varman.
“The green project has really taken off with this, and we have made substantial contributions to Beeah [the environmental management company].
“This has created a green footprint revolution in school.”
Pupils and teachers at the school have pledged to take individual steps to reduce carbon footprint.
The school has a recycling centre to which pupils bring in newspapers, plastic and cans. The recyclable material brought in by each pupil is weighed and recorded in the passport.
Pupils at the school have also pledged not to use single-use plastic and do not bring water in plastic bottles.
Ms Varman said the award had inspired children to become more environmentally conscious.
Ideas for a greener future
Delhi Private School Sharjah has an innovation hub in which children are encouraged to work on sustainable projects.
Adeeba Waseem, the co-ordinator for the programme, said pupils had developed a system through which the school’s lawns were watered and maintained with recycled water.
Solar panels have also been installed.
The selected 250 Climate Action Project Schools of Excellence were announced on Climate Action Day, held on November 4 in 135 countries. Speakers included the UK’s Prince William, the former president of Seychelles James Alix Michel, and other world leaders, climate scientists and activists.
At the award ceremony, Prince William said: “We need youth’s creativity to repair our planet. We need students to invent and to innovate – to think beyond where we are now and to be optimistic about our future.”
The winners were announced by Dan Russell, the voice actor behind several characters in the Cartoon Network series The Amazing World of Gumball, and Nandi Bushell, an 11-year-old musician, influencer and climate advocate.