Abu Dhabi, 10 July 2023: The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is gearing up for the 12th edition of the World Environmental Educational Congress (WEEC), which will be hosted in Abu Dhabi - the first time it will be held in the Middle East.
Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafrah Region and Chairman of the Board of Directors of EAD, the Congress will be jointly organised with the WEEC Network Secretariat, Italy, from January 29 to February 2, 2024 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
EAD have also received the prestigious backing of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as the International Strategic Partner for the Congress. This recognition confirms the immense significance of this event at a global scale. Other significant partners include the UAE Ministry of Education and the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT).
Following an international call for abstract submissions, the Agency has received abstracts from more than 30 countries across the globe. To encourage increased participation from different countries, the abstract submissions have been made available in four different languages – English, Arabic, French and Spanish.
Since the official announcement, which was made during the 11th edition of WEEC in Prague, Czech Republic, in March 2022, EAD began preparing to host the 12th edition of the congress, under the theme ‘Connecting People, Creating Tomorrow’, providing an important international platform for people who work in the field of environmental education and sustainable development.
Preparations to date include forming all the committee members for the Organising, National and International Scientific Committees, whereby the Local Organising Committee oversees and executes the Congress and implements its agenda. The Scientific Committee is comprised of 50 local and international members, who are accomplished researchers, scientists and members from the academia, and will be involved in the abstract review process and designing of the technical programme of the congress.
A Youth Conference will also be held in parallel with the main Congress, managed by a dedicated Youth Committee. EAD has developed a youth survey to support drafting a full agenda for the Youth Stream at WEEC, receiving over 100 responses.
Ahmed Baharoon, Executive Director of Environment Information, Science Outreach Management Sector at EAD, said: “Our preparations for the 12th edition of the World Environmental Educational Congress that will be held in 2024 are currently underway and going well. Early bird registration for the event is now open and the deadline for receiving abstracts is August 31, 2023. We have seen positive interest generated from over 30 countries from academia and researchers for the submission of abstracts. We are also currently compiling our list of participants and speakers and we are expecting more than 2,000 individuals at the event.”
He added: “Abu Dhabi, represented by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi was selected to host the Congress as we have decades of experience in environmental education. In 2009 and 2014 we pioneered the Sustainable Schools and Sustainable Campus Initiative which are designed to harness the teaching of sustainability in schools and universities so that youth rank protecting the environment high on their personal agenda. To date all there are 152 schools and 24 universities committed to the initiatives and the number keeps rising. At WEEC 2024 we will be sharing our expertise and insights regarding environmental education among youth as we know that they will be responsible for leading the sustainability agenda in the UAE for the future.”
The Sustainable School Initiative (SSI) has been a huge success, reaching 267,919 students from 130 schools since being launched in 2009 till 2019. A total of 24,750 students have assessed their own environmental impact and 29,700 students were empowered to reach out to the community through an SSI initiative called the Eco-club.
In addition, 21,3469 students were exposed to 'hands on' field trips and EAD provided training and resource material for 4,646 teachers. Similarly, the total number of community outreach projects is 2,081 and SSI members reduced 97,200 kg of CO2.
In 2013, SSI won the Green Middle East Award for Best Environmental Awareness and Education Project and in 2015, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) declared SSI an innovative model for education in sustainable development and recommended to be implemented all around the world. Furthermore, in 2017, SSI was also recognized by Global Environmental Education Partnership (GEEP) as a global case study in environmental education.
The key achievements of the Sustainable Campus Initiative (SCI) are that 1,276 student and faculty members were trained through workshops. 104 action project and audit reports on the sustainability of university campuses were also submitted by the participating colleges and universities.
EAD was also responsible for the launch of e-Green last year, a digital environmental educational platform - the first free and collaborative e-learning tool exclusively dedicated to the environmental sector in the region. A total of 712 users have used the platform since the launch and 194 certificates were generated.
Moreover, EAD pioneered the Enviro-Spellathon that has been conducted annually since 2001 within Abu Dhabi Emirate’s schools. The programme promotes eco-literacy on local flora, fauna, and awareness about environmental issues amongst students of Abu Dhabi through a structured academic exercise. A total of 91.7% of Abu Dhabi schools registered and 1,814,297 students have benefited from the exercise. EAD also launched an interactive electronic version of the Spellathon in 2016 with AppStore downloads amounting to 4,380 while Google Play recorded 13,224. It is also available in Braille.