Climate change communication and education

This profile is currently under review by the UAE government.


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1. Context

2. Climate change education and training in the country

3. Climate change communication in the country

4. Monitoring and evaluation


  1. Context

i. Climate change context

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is located on the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. It is a constitutionally based federal system composed of seven emirates — Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah — that span approximately 83,600 km2. According to the World Bank’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal, population growth has been relatively high, largely due to an ever-increasing expatriate labour force increasing from under 300 thousand in 1971 to over 10 million in 2022.

Over four-fifths of the UAE is classified as desert, especially in the western parts of the country. The UAE has nearly 1,300 km of coastline. Approximately 85 % of the population and over 90% of the infrastructure of the UAE are located within several metres above sea level in low-lying coastal areas. The country’s interior regions are characterized by vast stretches of desert interrupted by scattered oases, gravel plains, and the Hajar Mountains. The country has an arid climate. Summers are dry, stretching from April through September, with temperatures rising to about 48° C in coastal cities and with accompanying humidity levels reaching as high as 90%. In the southern desert regions, temperatures can rise to 50° C. Therefore, according to the Climate & Clean Air Coalition, the UAE is located in an area extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as warmer weather, less precipitation, droughts, rising sea levels, and an increase in the frequency of dust and sand storms.

The UAE is a leading global producer of oil and natural gas, ranking seventh in proven reserves for oil. The Global Carbon Atlas indicates that UAE’s emissions were around 22 tCO2 per person in 2021, among the highest in the world. The following sectors contribute most significantly to emissions: electricity generation (54%), transport with (14%), and industry (19%). According to the Updated Second Nationally Determined Contribution (2022), the UAE’s has significantly increased the country’s previous contribution toward reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, raising the target from 23.5% to 31% by 2030 relative to business as usual and ensuring an acceleration of the transition to a green economy while maintaining sustainable, balanced economic growth. The UAE plans to diversify its economy and adopt a knowledge-based approach to catalyze meeting its development targets. Similarly, UAE Net Zero 2050 (2021) focuses on the deployment and use of clean-energy solutions as one of the main pillars of the UAE’s model for addressing the challenge of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The UAE signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1995 and became an official Non-Annex 1 party in March 1996 party. It also ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 and the Doha Amendment in 2012. It signed the Paris Agreement on climate change in April 2016 and ratified it in September 2016.

The UAE was to host the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Abu Dhabi in 2023, placing sustainability leadership and inclusivity at the centre of the event and its presidency. The year 2023 was dedicated to sustainability under the theme Today for Tomorrow. The Year of Sustainability included initiatives, activities, and events designed to show  the UAE’s sustainability values.

ii. Relevant government agencies 

Climate change

At the federal level, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure are the two main entities engaged in the execution of plans related to climate change and sustainable energy.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (formerly the Ministry of Environment and Water) was created in 2016. The Ministry’s goal is to develop and implement sustainable environmental policies to combat climate change and preserve the environment, and to work with local and federal stakeholders across the UAE to achieve goals and objectives related to climate change and the environment in UAE Vision 2021 (2010), a strategic and visionary document that sets the requirements for sustainable growth in the nation. The Ministry also assists in and organizes efforts to implement the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative launched in 2021 and ensures collaboration at the national level to fulfill this objective. The Ministry also launches annual reports on the environment.

In particular, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment leads and coordinates efforts to execute the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative and ensure collaboration at national level to fulfill this objective. Stakeholders in key sectors such as energy, economy, industry, infrastructure, transport, waste, agriculture, and the environment update relevant plans, strategies, and policies and implement initiatives and projects to achieve net zero by 2050 while meeting their needs and their growth requirements. Federal and local government authorities are responsible for preparing comprehensive studies and developing plans for introducing the measures necessary to reduce emissions while also ensuring economic growth based on principles of sustainability.

In 2020, the minister of Industry and Advanced Technology became the UAE’s special envoy for climate change. The role includes leveraging efforts in key areas to encourage rapid and enhanced implementation of the UAE’s climate change strategies in the context of sustainable development.

In addition to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, each emirate has a competent authority that oversees environmental protection:

Since 1996, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi has safeguarded Abu Dhabi’s natural resources. The Agency engages across four priority areas to achieve objectives, namely conservation, education and empowerment, regulation, and monitoring and management. The Agency has published several reports on environmental and climate change-related topics.

Dubai Municipality offers different environmental services, especially for marine and coastal environments.

The Environment and Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah protects the Emirate of Sharjah’s environment, wildlife, and biodiversity through scientific research, policies that raise awareness, and support for the principles of sustainable development.

The Ajman Municipality and Planning Department views sustainability as an integral part of Ajman’s vision and mission, as indicated in the The First Sustainability Report for 2017-2018, which covers performance and achievements related to sustainability. Ajman Municipality has engaged in several environmental initiatives to combat climate change. For example, the Municipality announced details of submitting applications for the second Humaid Bin Rashid International Sustainability Award in October 2022. The award covers several aspects of sustainability to attract a wide range of researchers and engineers.

Umm AlQuwain Municipality has also designated environmental protection as a priority. For example, the Executive Council of the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain decided to ban single-use plastic bags from January 2023, a decision that protects the environment from the dangers of plastic pollution and reduces its negative impacts.

The Environment Protection and Development Authority of Ras Al Khaimah was formed 1) to strategically reduce the adverse environmental effects of industrial and development activities and improve the quality of the environment through environmental inspection, monitoring, evaluation, and control; 2) to provide protection and sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resources; and 3) to increase the level of environmental awareness and access to environmentally responsible actions through awareness-oriented programs and community participation. Among the Authority’s programs and initiatives is the Student Environmental Conservation Teams Award, which started in 2017 and aims to promote environmental awareness among primary school students and spread the culture of conservation in schools and homes.

Fujairah Municipality is dedicated to environmentally sustainable development, as the Emirate hosts five marine protected areas. For example, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Dibba Al Fujairah Municipality launched a joint initiative to plant 2,500 mangrove seedlings in the Al Badiya area in Fujairah, which is situated along the east coast of the UAE. The initiative aims to rehabilitate coastal and marine habitats, increase green cover, and safeguard local biodiversity.

The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure was established in 2020 by merging the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Infrastructure. The Ministry is the federal entity that is responsible for achieving energy security in a sustainable manner. It also works on building a strong foundation of regulations for governing the energy sector and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The UAE Council on Climate Change and Environment is an inter-ministerial, inter-emirate governance body that ensures alignment of federal and emirate-level policies and interventions. The Council held their first meeting in March 2022 to review the progress of the implementation of climate initiatives in the UAE, such as the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative and the national drive to plant 100 million mangroves by 2030 to promote sustainable economic development.

The UAE’s Mission to the International Renewable Energy Agency leads and supports renewable energy deployment through diplomacy, representation, public engagement, and knowledge development and dissemination. The Mission intends to increase the knowledge base and identify and create opportunities to drive renewable energy adoption in the UAE. The Mission works collaboratively with other permanent representatives in the Emirates, such as the Agency’s secretariat and related think tanks, to advance mutual understanding.

The UAE’s focal point for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. There are two Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Points, the Office of the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

Education and communication

The Ministry of Education oversees all levels of education in the UAE, including pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools; colleges; universities; and postgraduate programs. The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, the Dubai Education Council, the Sharjah Education Council, and the Ministry of Education are involved in coordinating  education.

The Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training was established in 2010 to expand training and educational opportunities for young citizens within the UAE’s Qualification Framework. No references to activities or programs related to climate change were found at the time of this review.

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi conceived the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative  in 2001, and the UAE government launched it in 2002 during the United Nations World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Initiative operates at local, regional, and global levels, with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi as the lead agency. The Agency has worked or is working on several local, national, and regional climate change projects.

The Zayed International Foundation for the Environment, founded in 1999, recognizes and encourages environmental achievement. The Foundation administers the Zayed International Prize for the Environment and grants awards in four categories: 1) global leadership in environment and sustainable development, 2) scientific and technological achievements in the environment, 3) environmental action leading to positive change in society; and 4) the young scientists’ award for environmental sustainability.

iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans 

Climate change

Although the UAE constitution (1996) does not directly mention climate change or environmental protection, Article 23 states that “the natural resources and wealth in each Emirate shall be considered to be the public property of that Emirate. Society shall be responsible for the protection and proper exploitation of such natural resources and wealth for the benefit of the national economy.”

The aim of the UAE Federal Law No. (24) of 1999 for the Protection and Development of the Environment, developed by the then Ministry of Environment and Water (now the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment), is to ensure the protection and preservation of the quality and natural balance of the environment, controlling all forms of pollution and avoiding any negative effects deriving from economic, agricultural, and industrial development. Additionally, Article 67 calls for “informing and educating the public about the objectives and purposes of the establishment of natural reserves.” (p. 20). No reference is made to climate change education.

Cabinet Decree No (12) of 2006 regarding Regulation concerning the Protection of Air From Pollution sets regulations and guidelines for preserving air quality while emphasizing that all facilities should use technologies and measures to mitigate emissions in accordance with best practices. The Decree also defines emissions standards for cars and stationary sources. Article 4, for example, states that facilities (including oil and gas facilities) should comply with the emissions limit outlined, when the value for volatile organic compounds is set lower than 20 mg/Nm3. Climate change education is not mentioned.

UAE Vision 2021 (2010) comprises a set of national indicators for different sectors, including education, health care, the economy, police and security, justice, society, housing, infrastructure, and government services. In terms of the environment, UAE Vision 2021 highlights the importance of improving air quality, maintaining water resources, expanding the use of clean energy, and implementing green-growth plans.

The Dubai Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2012) was a product of close and effective collaboration among several strategic Dubai partners from various sectors, namely Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Municipality, Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Airports, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Dubai Petroleum, and Emirates Global Aluminium. The partners developed a long-term, proactive plan to ensure the climate change readiness of all relevant sectors (environment, food security, energy, water, health, infrastructure, and business).

The UAE’s National Biodiversity Strategy 2014-2021 (2014), developed by the then Ministry of Environment and Water, includes a series of main orientations and national goals that align with UAE Vision 2021 (2010). The Strategy addresses the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by integrating biodiversity values across all sectors and improving the contribution of ecosystems to carbon stocks through the protection and rehabilitation of at least 50% of degraded habitats to mitigate the effects of climate change and desertification.

The UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030 (2016) is considered an overarching framework for green economic action. The agenda comprises five strategic objectives: 1) boosting a competitive knowledge economy, 2) fostering social development and quality of life, 3) promoting a sustainable environment and valued natural resources, 4) promoting clean energy and climate action, and 5) supporting green life and sustainable use of resources.

The National Climate Change Plan: 2017-2050 (2017), developed by the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment, aligns with the UAE Vision 2021 (2010) and the UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030 (2016) since it seeks to 1) manage greenhouse emissions while sustaining economic growth, 2) build climate resilience by minimizing risks and increasing capacity for climate adaptation, and 3) advance the country’s economic diversification agenda through innovative solutions. The Plan’s goals of fostering green-oriented training programs, strengthening the intellectual foundation for green technologies and services, and upgrading higher education curricula are critical.

The UAE’s National Energy Strategy 2050 (2017) developed by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, aspires to respond to the risks of climate change by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production and use of energy. The Strategy also seeks to 1) increase the share of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25% to 50% by 2050; 2) reduce the carbon footprint of power generation by 70%, saving AED 700 billion by 2050; 3) boost the consumption efficiency of individuals and corporations by 40%; and 4) achieve an energy mix that combines renewable, nuclear, and clean-energy sources to meet the country’s economic needs and environmental goals.

The UAE General Environmental Policy: 2021 (2020) targets climate change by setting the management of greenhouse gas emissions as a main priority in the country. The aim of the Policy is to enhance quality of life while maintaining a sustainable environment that supports long-term economic growth. The Policy seeks to preserve the country’s biodiversity and the sustainability of its resources, ecosystems, and services, while integrating the considerations and objectives of environmental protection and climate action in the policies and plans of the various sectors in the country. The Policy also highlights the importance of reducing waste through education and awareness campaigns.

The Environment Vision 2030 of the Environmental Agency – Abu Dhabi aims to ensure environmental, economic, and social integration. The Vision has five priority areas: 1) minimization of the impact of climate change; 2) efficient management and conservation of water resources; 3) enhanced value creation through optimized material flows and waste management; 4) clean air and noise pollution; and 5) biodiversity, habitats, and cultural heritage.

According to UAE’s 4rth National Communication Report (2018), the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, in cooperation with the National Center of Meteorology and relevant local entities. administered a National Strategy for Marine and Coastal Environment Sustainability through the National Marine and Coastal Environment Monitoring Program (2016-2021). The aims were to conserve and ensure the sustainability of marine and coastal ecosystems through integrated coastal zone management, capacity building, raising public awareness, and regional and international cooperation.

In 2019, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment launched the National Climate Change Adaptation Program. The aims of the program are to assess the impact of climate change on key sectors, identify risks that demand urgent action and develop well-informed adaptation measures. With the implementation of this program, the Ministry seeks to make the UAE one of the most climate-resilient countries in the world.

In 2021 the country unveiled UAE Net Zero by 2050, a national strategic initiative to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The Strategy covers the entire UAE economy and brings into focus five sectors: 1) power and water; 2) industry (including oil and gas); 3) transport; 4) buildings; and 5) waste, agriculture, forestry, and land use. The initiative aligns with the Principles of the 50, the UAE’s road map for accelerating national economic development to mark the country’s golden jubilee year as the nation enters a new 50-year cycle of growth, as well as with the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to prepare long-term strategies to reduce greenhouse gas) emissions and limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 C compared to pre-industrial levels. In March 2023, the UAE Government’s Net Zero 2050 Charter was signed, which signaled the intensifying commitment to net zero in the run up to the UAE’s COP presidency.

The UAEs’ Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap is a comprehensive national blueprint to support domestic, low-carbon industries, contribute to the UAE’s net zero strategy, and establish the country as a competitive exporter of hydrogen.

Concerning education, the aims of the National Environmental Education & Awareness Strategy: 2015-2021 included 1) educating youth to drive the UAE toward a sustainable future, 2) ensuring the alignment and effectiveness of environmental education and awareness efforts in the UAE, and 3) by building adequate capabilities in the UAE to enable the delivery of the Strategy.

The Updated Second Nationally Determined Contribution (2022) mentions that the UAE has taken decisive action to mitigate climate change and adapt to its imminent impacts, setting a long-term climate and energy policy pathway

Education and communication

The UAE’s National Environmental Education & Awareness Strategy: 2015-2021, developed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, had six key objectives: 1) educate youth to drive the UAE toward a sustainable future; 2) improve the community’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection; 3) encourage the active involvement of businesses and industries in moving toward environmental sustainability; 4) engage key government stakeholders in supporting environmental sustainability, 5) ensure alignment and effectiveness of environmental education and awareness efforts in the UAE, and 6) build adequate capabilities in the UAE to enable the delivery of Strategy. The aims were to raise awareness of a sustainable future among youth and to strengthen the community’s commitment to sustainable development and environmental protection. The Strategy also encouraged enterprises and economic sectors to participate actively in environmental sustainability and fostered the education of governments and key stakeholders on environmental issues. Among the programs and initiatives were 1) ensuring the inclusion of the UAE’s environmental priorities in the school curriculum of pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools and coordinating the development of teaching and learning material and 2) developing and implementing national voluntary programs that support schools, universities, and vocational and teacher-training institutions. The Strategy makes no specific reference to climate change education.

The aim of the Ministry of Education Strategy: 2010-2020 was to attain a score of 10/10 in all of its initiatives. This document, which was considered the education sector plan, had 10 strategic objectives focused on student outcomes, student school life, student equality, student citizens, and administrative effectiveness. The Strategy did not mention terms related to climate change or environmental protection.

The aims of the National Strategy for Higher Education 2030 (2017) are to provide future generations with the necessary technical and practical skills to boost the economy in both the public and private sectors. The Strategy also seeks to prepare a generation of professionals that can support growth in crucial sectors such as knowledge, the economy, entrepreneurship, and the overall development of the UAE’s labour market. No reference is made to topics related to climate change or environment.

The General Curriculum Framework (2018) determines the general orientation of all elements of the educational system. The Framework does not mention climate change, but it encourages educational institutions to expand their scope to include programs related to the environment and to sustainability issues.

The Ministry of Education developed the Education Sector Environment, Occupational Health & Safety Management System General Framework (2020) to support its efforts to disseminate environmental and health concepts, to strengthen institutional capacities in the educational field, and to develop unified, integrated standards and procedures that ensure safe and sustainable implementation of all educational activities. The Framework highlights the importance of promoting environmental protection, sustainability, and biodiversity conservation, and of raising awareness and implementing training and capacity-building programs to achieve the Ministry’s goals.

In April 2023, in preparation for COP28, the Ministry of Education, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and UNESCO announced the UAE’s Green Education Partnership Roadmap. The Roadmap’s aims were to enhance “the role of education in achieving sustainable development goals and [include] the climate agenda in the UAE’s educational system.” Among the environment- and climate-friendly initiatives that the memorandum of understanding aimed to achieve were making 50% of all UAE’s schools and campuses green-accredited and providing training to more than 2,400 educators and 1,400 school principals.

iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication

Most UAE documents specifically about climate change refer to climate change communication and education as moving to a green ecosystem, energy conservation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and sustainability. For example, the National Climate Change Plan: 2017-2050 (2017) uses the term ‘green,’ mentioning that

“the job prospects in the green economy are promising, but require filling significant capacity gaps to realize them. To prepare the workforce for the transition to green sectors such as clean energy, green manufacturing, and environmental goods and services, the UAE will: carry out a comprehensive capacity needs assessment; leverage young local talents by equipping them with technical, managerial, and vocational skills; and forge closer collaboration between academia and industry.”

National Climate Change Plan: 2017-2050, 2017, p. 31

The UAE’s National Environmental Education & Awareness Strategy 2015-2021 states that sustainability and sustainable development are a strategic objective to improve the community’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection.

The General Curriculum Framework (2018) refers to climate change in terms of ‘environmental protection,’ while emphasizing that students need to preserve the environment and the sustainability of its resources.

The UAE’s 4rth National Communication Report (2018) focuses on ‘capacity building’ and raising ‘public awareness’ through various local and national climate change projects and activities. For instance, the Communication states that the UAE continues to strengthen efforts on climate change by building capacity and social awareness in individuals, institutions, and commercial enterprises.

The Updated Second Nationally Determined Contribution (2022) focuses on responses to climate change, using the terms ‘adaptation’ and ‘mitigation.’ For example, the Contribution states that the country is invested in including climate mitigation and adaptation efforts into its near-term and long-term plans.

v. Budget for climate change education and communication

In October 2022, the UAE Cabinet approved the federal budget for 2023-2026, with a total estimated expenditure of AED 252.3 billion (US$ 68.69 billion) and estimated revenues of AED 255.7 billion (US$ 69.6 billion). The budget allocated AED 9.8 billion (US$ 2.6 billion, or 15.5% of the total general budget) to public and university education programs but did not specifically mention climate change education or the environment.

According to the Ministry of Finance’s Newsletter on Financial Performance (2022), the general budget of the federation for the first quarter of financial year 2022 allocated 8.70% (AED 1.401 million/ US$ 381.4 million) to the education sector and 0.42% (AED 48 million/ US$ 13 million) to environmental protection. In 2020, the UAE government allocated AED 329.175 million to environmental protection in its federal budget.

According to the Ministry of Finance’s annual report, National Achievements for a Promising Financial Future (2020), the UAE’s federal budget for 2021 approved total expenditures amounting to AED 58 billion (US$ 15 billion). The focus was on social and economic development to improve living standards and provide a decent quality of life to the citizens and residents of the UAE. The report does not mention climate change, the environment, or education.

The World Bank indicated that the UAE’s expenditures on education represented 3.9% of the gross domestic product in 2020. However, climate change communication and education-related budgets are not indicated.

According to the 2022 Investment Climates Statement, the UAE announced in October 2021 that it would pursue net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which would include an investment of US $163 billion for renewable energy. No reference is made to climate change communication or education.

According to the UAE Sustainable Finance Framework: 2021-2031 (2021), First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE’s largest bank, supports the country’s sustainability objectives included in UAE Vision 2021 (2010), UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030 (2016), and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, the Bank was the first Gulf Cooperation Council bank to commit to lending US$ 10 billion on environmentally sustainable projects in the succeeding 10 years.

The Updated Second Nationally Determined Contribution (2022) mentions that the country hasinvested upwards of US$ 40 billion in clean energy. No reference is made to a budget allocation for climate change education and communication.

The UAE’s 4rth National Communication Report (2018) does not reference budget allocations for climate change communication and education.

In 2023, the Ministry of Education was to collaborate with UNESCO to establish a United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Greening Education. The UAE was to act as a champion country, including by developing its terms of reference for the trust fund with the partners and by working toward its capitalization.

  1. Climate change education and training in the country

i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education 

The UAE’s education system consists of primary schools, middle schools, and high schools, all monitored by the Ministry of Education.

Topics and themes related to climate change and environmental issues are included in the curriculum for each subject. For example, the UAE National Education and Social Studies: Learning Outcomes for all Domains and Subjects states that one learning outcome for geography for the 3rd grade is that the “student can compare cultural features with environmental features of populations in certain places and areas (utilization of environment and resources – technology – customs and traditions” (p. 10), and one outcome for geography for the 7th and 9th grades is that the “student is able to apply […] critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills when examining environmental problems (climate change, environmental pollution, environmental change)” (p. 19).

The National Curriculum Framework for Islamic Studies (2017) for pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools highlights the importance of understanding the impacts of climate change on human health and well-being. For example, learning outcomes for units entitled Contemporary Issues for the 1st, 3rd, and 6th grades emphasize the connection between obedience to God and environmental preservation, water management, and pollution. Similarly, the National Curriculum Framework for Social Studies (2017) for pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools for non-Arabic speakers specifies that 11th-grade students need to learn the roles of institutions and organizations that deal with the environment and climate change.

Furthermore, the National Curriculum Framework for Science (2019) for K-12 students states that K-1 children should understand the importance of water, air, and light in the lives of living things, such as plants, animals, and humans, as well as ways to preserve the environment, such as recycling. Grade 1 touches upon issues of biodiversity and animal extinction; Grade 3 deals with issues related to climate and temperature; and Grade 4 focuses on renewable energy for sustainable development. The National Curriculum Framework for the Arabic Language for K-12 (2016) contains climate change-related terms.

Beyond the curriculum, Our Generations, a joint program of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Ministry of Education and an integrated educational program launched in 2016, was an initiative that provided students with many opportunities to develop strong environmental awareness and positive attitudes, as well as to participate in practical environmental activities. According to the 4rth National Communication Report (2018), the Initiative involved developing a sustainable curriculum that would be applied across several subjects. School children would also learn about the UAE’s efforts to combat climate change, such as the Paris Agreement, how to take energy-saving measures, the importance of turning off lights and air-conditioning when not in use, and how to use less water.

According to the Environment State Report (2020) developed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Ras El Khaimah Waste Management Agency implemented a waste-sorting program with the participation of 121 private and public schools during the 2016-2018 academic years to encourage students and teachers to separate and reduce waste in schools and to raise awareness of the importance of environmental sustainability.

In addition, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi launched the Sustainable Schools Initiative in 2009. This whole-school initiative involves students, teachers, parents, administrators, and non-teaching staff, and links with the community with expected outcomes to reduce their environmental footprint and promote sustainability. The Initiative seeks to empower students to lead environmental activities in their communities by establishing and running eco clubs. Twenty-seven primary schools in Abu Dhabi officially committed themselves to implementing the Initiative, which focused on reducing the environmental footprint, especially for water, energy, air, and waste.

Be’ati Watani, a comprehensive online source of environmental information for children 6 to14 years old, sought to 1) reach students and raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment; 2) provide teachers with resources to help facilitate classroom discussions on environmental subjects, and 3) initiate the study of the environment in school curricula across the UAE. In 2011, over a million students benefited from the program, which started as a paperback in 2002. At its start in 2002, Be’ati Watani was distributed as booklets that were filled with information for students. Later, it changed to a CD format and then to an interactive and fully online resource. At the time of this review, the Be’ati Watani official website was no longer accessible.

The Eco-Schools program is an international certification and award program in education for sustainable development from the Foundation for Environmental Education that guides schools in embedding sustainability principles in school life. As the national operator for the Foundation’s programs in the UAE, Emirates Nature–WWF implemented the Eco-Schools program in the UAE from 2010 to 2012 through the HSBC Eco-Schools Climate Initiative and from 2012 to 2015 through Eco-Schools UAE, with the endorsement of the Ministry of Education. Since its introduction in the UAE, 45 private and public schools have actively participated in the program. To receive a Green Flag Certification, a school has to implement the program for at least two years. Eco-Schools also underwent a rigorous assessment, demonstrating excellence and success in improving their environmental performance.

The Emirates Environmental Group engages students throughout the Middle East and North Africa region, providing them with meaningful platforms for learning, networking, and advocating for environmental improvements. Their educational program supports students in being proactive. Among the educational programs that the Group offers is the Environmental Drawing Competition, in which more than 350 schools across the UAE take part each year. In 2021, students had the opportunity to express their opinions on the following topics: Your Vision of Biodiversity for 2030, Dubai Expo and the Future of Sustainability, and Sustainable Recovery after the Pandemic. Also, more than 400 students participated the Inter School Environmental Public Speaking Competition on the topics of Sustainable Living: A Path for a Greener Future?, Environment and Education: Need for Change, Balancing the Three Pillars Of Sustainability in a Post-Pandemic World, or Integrating Environment and Technology: A Solution to Sustainability? The Campus Outreach programs enable concerned students to engage in discussions with the Group about problems and solutions with regard to sustainability.

Masdar (Arabic-language source), a leading company in renewable energy in Abu Dhabi, established a Sustainability Ambassadors program in 2006. In a year-long program, high school students could become Sustainability Ambassadors through core-knowledge and skills training, work experience, and networking at major events during the academic year. Participants played an active role in Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, exploring the future of the sustainability agenda and gaining understanding of how to contribute to the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The UAE’s 4rth National Communication Report (2018), developed by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, highlights the role of education and awareness in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Report mentioned different initiatives and programs in education for environmental protection, for example, the Be’ati Watani program, an online environmental resource for youth 6 to 14 years old.

The Green Education Partnership is built around four pillars: Greening Schools, Greening Learning, Greening Capabilities, and Greening Communities, each aiming to achieve a set target. For instance, Greening Schools provides a framework for schools and universities to become more environmentally friendly and reduce their environmental impact, while also promoting sustainable practices among students and the wider community. The Ministry of Education set goals of 50% of UAE schools being green-accredited and more than 70 campuses in the country being eco-friendly by the end of 2023. UAE commitments also included a new eco-friendly curriculum in all UAE schools. Under Greening Learning, the Ministry was to introduce guidebooks for the creation of sustainability-focused co-curriculum activities based that develop knowledge, skills, and values. To devise a cross-curricular eco-education framework that covers all 23 curricula within the UAE and that spans all age groups, the Ministry of Education has partnered with the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental agency with 167 countries and the European Union as members. The plan has been developed in collaboration with UNICEF and the Office for Climate Education.

ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources

Before the signature of the Green Education Partnership in April 2023, UAE plans and policies included little information and few initiatives to increase teachers’ responsiveness to climate change. Previously, the focus had been primarily on environmental education. For example, the National Environmental Education & Awareness Strategy: 2015-2021 emphasized the incorporation of environmental education into teacher training and professional development. The Partnership would enable the Ministry of Education to provide training to more than 2,400 educators and 1,400 school principals.

In 2001, the Emirates Environment Group organized a train-the-trainer workshop titled Making Teachers Think Green for 42 teachers in schools in Sharjah, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. This workshop, according to the chairperson of the Group, would “help teachers motivate students to embrace green thinking.” Participants received tips on practical (rather than theoretical) educational methods and on sustainable development.

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi initiative, the Environmental Atlas of Abu Dhabi Emirate, aims to embrace a broad constituency of readers innovatively and compellingly. The Atlas presents information within a common story and narrative, interwoven with complementary stories, case studies, facts and statistics, illustrative figures, anecdotes, photographs, thematic maps, and interactive modules that highlight the most significant environmental aspects of the emirate. The Atlas has a section on education, covering both students and teachers, that aims to make learning as accessible as possible. The Atlas also offers teaching resources and classroom activities, such as lesson plans that provide the basic structure and content for lessons and contain ideas for thematic activities/tasks from the Environmental Atlas. The plans include lesson titles, lesson and skills objectives, lesson presentations, suggestions, and assessment. The teacher briefings in the Atlas offer short, easy-to-read overviews for teachers that cover a range of environmental topics. The Atlas also includes examples of classroom photo quizzes and classroom posters.

iii. Climate change in higher education

The UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030 (2016), developed by the UAE Cabinet, has five strategic objectives, and education and awareness are key pillars. For instance, the Agenda calls for 1) financing studies and research on green specialties; 2) providing student scholarships for environmental courses in higher education; 3) introducing new vocational training courses on environment and green jobs at the national and local levels; and 4) conducting awareness campaigns on sustainable transport and the use of green vehicles.

The National Climate Change Plan: 2017-2050 (2017) states that meeting the demands of the knowledge-based green economy would require building the capacity of the UAE workforce. It notes that higher education institutions were already offering nearly 20 sustainability-related undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has launched the UAE Climate Change Research Network, bringing together a group of committed climate scientists and researchers to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge and to advance research collaborations. Network members are drawn from the government, universities, and other research entities. Climate research is critical to understand short-term and long-term changes in temperature, sea level, precipitation, air quality, extreme weather events, and other climate indicators and to assess the impacts of these changes on the environment, economy, and society while defining appropriate adaptation measures.

Most UAE universities have specific departments that teach environmental sciences, environment management, and issues related directly and indirectly to climate change.

Zayed University offers a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Sustainability with a concentration in environmental-sustainability topics. Courses discuss local and global environmental topics from social, political, economic, and ethical perspectives, giving students an approach for dealing with the UAE’s environmental challenges. The University, in collaboration with the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the United Nations Environment Program’s Regional Office for West Asia, organized the Zayed University Forum on Climate Change Negotiation: The Road from Paris in 2016. The Forum evaluated the outcome of the Paris COP21 meeting, focusing on the impact on the Gulf Cooperation Council region. The Forum served as a platform for decision-makers, scientists, young researchers, and private-sector representatives to interact and discuss the research agenda for the future.

Khalifa University offers a Master of Science in Water and Environmental Engineering that enables students to identify and address current and future societal issues related to waste, water, and the environment within a broader framework of sustainable development, among other topics.

The United Arab Emirates University’s Plant Physiology research team has addressed Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action). The College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine research team evaluates the performance of crop genotypes’ using morphological and physiological parameters under induced environmental-stress factors, including temperature, drought, salinity, ultraviolet radiation, and carbon dioxide, that influence the growth of crop cultivars. Moreover, researchers at the University have been studying climate change impact in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi since June 2022.

The American University of Sharjah developed its first comprehensive climate action plan to reduce carbon emissions in November 2022. The plan aligned the University’s sustainability efforts with the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative announced in October 2021. As part of the process, the University held a climate action exhibition on campus in March 2022. The exhibition generated feedback on faculty and student research, classroom engagement on climate action, and community campaigns to educate American University of Sharjah stakeholders about climate action.

The Fujairah Research Centre is a multi-disciplinary, global Initiative to carry out research and development activities, with major projects spread across different themes and programs. One program, Marine, studies the marine life that inhabits the waters of the Emirate of Fujairah, as well as pressures and challenges. Another theme, Agriculture, develops technology to reduce water usage by the green ecosystem, camels, and honeybees. The aims of the Fujairah Research Centre’s environmental research team are to achieve a healthy environment, protect ecosystems, and address pollution issues, ecological change, and biodiversity losses. The team operates several research programs: Pollution Monitoring & Modeling, Renewable Energy, Energy and Water Technologies, and Weather Forecasting. At the time of this review, the team had published no research on climate change and climate change education.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment organized the first UAE Climate Change Research Network conference in April 2022. The event included participation by climate scientists, researchers, and academics, as well as by representatives of government and private-sector bodies concerned with environment and climate action. The gathering served as a platform for scientific and academic entities and researchers to enhance their cooperation in dealing with climate change challenges. Over two days, the conference featured more than 20 specialized sessions. Themes on the first day included climate data and modelling; climate change and terrestrial, marine, and freshwater ecosystems; climate change and food and water security; and climate change and public health. The second day focused on climate change and infrastructure, and the World Health Organization chaired a panel discussion on climate change and public health.

The Emirates Committee for Sustainable Environment Research, established in 2016 by a ministerial decree of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, comprises representatives from various organizations, entities, and universities across the public and private sectors. At the time of this review, information about the Committee, its activities, and an official website were unavailable.

The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research has given priority to climate change issues, given the links between energy, water, food, health, the environment, and sustainable development. The Center’s publications, studies, conferences, symposia, and lectures reflect this interest, and, over the past years, it has published several books and research papers on the issues of energy, climate change, and the environment and organized numerous conferences and symposia on this topic. For example, in 2019, the Center published a book entitled Climate Change and the Future of Water.

The aim of the Sustainable Campus Initiative, launched by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and sponsored by Borouge, is to strengthen and build leadership capacity among youth, address environmental-sustainability issues, and be the primary change agents in the country in working toward and shaping sustainable communities. The main objectives of the Initiative are to 1) mobilize youth on college and university campuses and youth associations to address sustainability issues by reducing their footprint and increasing their handprint; 2) network Emirates youth locally, regionally, and internationally with similar youth networks to learn from and share best practices that support the establishment of environmental teams in colleges and universities; 3) create opportunities for youth educators and mentors to enhance and share their learning through conferences, events, and workshops; and 4) engage youth participation in environmental activities by providing them with volunteering opportunities. The Initiative runs different events to raise environmental awareness. For example, in February 2022, as the country celebrated UAE National Environment Day, they organized an environmental youth talk with the title of Youth’s Role in Climate Action, during which presenters spoke about the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi’s role in climate neutrality and about opportunities to involve youth in climate action.

The Updated Second Nationally Determined Contribution (2022) mentions that the UAE had developed scientific research centres and programs focused on climate and energy innovation. The Contribution notes that “these initiatives [were] envisioned as a tool for youth empowerment, supporting employment opportunities and facilitating access to new and innovative low-carbon technologies and sectors” (p. 39).

iv. Climate change in training and adult learning 

In September 2018, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment organized a two-day regional consultation workshop on green-growth performance measurement in Dubai. Co-organized with the Global Green Growth Institute, the workshop highlighted ongoing efforts to create a green-economy indicator in the UAE to monitor growth under the UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030 (2016). Stakeholders representing federal and local authorities from the UAE and the Middle East and North Africa region shared knowledge, solicited expert feedback, and emphasized the inclusiveness and universal applicability of the concept of green-growth performance measurement concept.

Similarly, on March 28-29, 2022, in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the Green Global Growth Institute UAE team organized a capacity-building and validation workshop on risk assessment and climate change adaptation for the health sector in Dubai, convening about 60 representatives of public-health authorities, research centres, and other health-related entities.

In August 2022, the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change of the Arab Youth Centre, in collaboration with HSBC bank, issued an Arab youth toolkit, Action Steps for a Sustainable Lifestyle, which highlights best practices for achieving sustainability for young people in the Arab region. The announcement coincided with a training course, On the Road to COP, which the Council held in cooperation with the United Nations Development Coordination Office in the UAE. The aim of the training course was to prepare the network’s members, experts, and specialists for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 in Egypt and COP28 in the UAE.

Emirates Nature–WWF offered the Youth Leadership Winter Bootcamp in January 2023, an opportunity for all aspiring environmentalists and committed youth advocates between the ages of 18 and 24 to receive a sponsorship to participate in a week-long boot camp. The successful participants experienced impactful virtual and in-person workshops and exclusive outdoor adventures. The Bootcamp was designed for youth, by youth, to equip the next generation to become leaders of change. Themes included Climate Action, Green Recovery, and Wildlife Preservation.

The Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, launched in 2014, supports the mission of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and has become the driving force in the Ministry’s efforts to educate, inform, and qualify the UAE’s current and future diplomats and government leaders who represent the country on the global stage. In May 2022, the Academy, in cooperation with the Office of the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, launched a capacity-building program to enhance knowledge, information, and skills to address climate change through progressive climate action. The training program, open to senior government officials, corporate executives, diplomats, negotiators, and advisors, was to focus on the essentials of climate change, regional climate priorities, climate diplomacy, the energy transition, and the UAE’s net zero strategic initiative. Approximately 150 to 200 individuals were selected through a competitive process to undergo an extensive first-wave training program of six months, followed by a second wave of similar duration, in anticipation of the UAE’s COP28 presidency.

The Climate Connection Champions program, supported by the British Embassy in the UAE, was launched in partnership with the American University in the Emirates in 2021. The aim of the program was to create and strengthen support for climate change action and the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow COP26 amongst UAE youth and institutions while building a network of advocates across the community. The program supports the UAE’s transition from a carbon- to a knowledge-based economy, the country’s consolidation as an international education hub, and the recognition of the UAE as a science and technology leader. It also supports the National Climate Change Plan: 2017-2050 (2017) by tackling the causes and impacts of climate change, planning the transition to a climate-resilient green economy, and improving quality of life.

The aim of the road map for COP28 is to “equip pupils of all ages with the necessary knowledge to bring about a change in attitudes to environmental issues.” Beyond this, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with UNESCO and the University Task Force, is developing a School and University Engagement model to promote sustainability in communities.

  1. Climate change communication in the country

i. Climate change and public awareness 

The aim of the UAE federal law, Protection and Development of the Environment, is the “consolidation of environmental awareness and principles of pollution control” (p 5).

The UAE General Environmental Policy: 2021 (2021) mentions the need to increase community members’ awareness about using environment-friendly materials, encourage green industries, minimize waste, and decrease the unsafe and improper use of chemicals.

The National Climate Change Plan: 2017-2050 (2017) contends that the success of the Plan hinges on key catalysts that enable the achievement of key outcomes. These would include, but are not limited to, awareness raising and communications. According to the Plan, awareness raising and communications play critical roles in building a positive, engaged, and supportive group of government, business, and civil-society stakeholders.

The National Environmental Education & Awareness Strategy: 2015-2021 emphasizes the importance of establishing a national grant scheme to support best-practice environmental education and awareness projects that would deliver education, training, and capacity building for sustainability.

According to UAE’s 4rth National Communication Report (2018), raising awareness is critical in adapting to climate change. The Report further asserted that the UAE plans to enhance individual and institutional awareness so as to address the challenges of climate change. These measures would improve public awareness, develop institutions undertaking socially needed analyses, and contribute to better decision-making.

In September 2020, the UAE organized an awareness workshop for the insurance sector on climate risks and opportunities. The event, titled Studying the Insurance Sector’s Opportunities and Risks in Light of Climate Change Challenges, enabled more than 50 insurance companies and other relevant stakeholders to engage in an in-depth discussion about the potential role of the insurance sector in minimizing the risks and maximizing the benefits amid the climate crisis. Among the takeaways were 1) environmental risk was one of the most defining threats of the time, both in terms of likelihood and impact; 2) natural catastrophes had been increasing in the past four decades, and 3) more than 70% of the losses were not insured. To facilitate an appropriate level of awareness and action at the individual insurer level, the UAE government committed resources to conduct a climate risk assessment and adaptation action plan for the insurance sector in the UAE in collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute.

The Emirates Environmental Group, established in 1991, is a professional working group dealing with environmental protection through education, action programs, and community involvement. The objectives and goals of the organization are: 1) to raise environmental awareness in the UAE; 2) to contribute to sustainable development; 3) to create innovative solutions for sustainability; 4) to encourage the communities throughout the UAE to care about responsible waste management; 5) to promote environmental protection; 6) to develop and assist in creating programs and projects regarding the environment; and 7) to promote environmental values and spark change.

In 2016, the Emirates Environmental Group launched Recycle. Reforest. Repeat to advance and strengthen its partnership with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The project maximizes the Group’s paper-collection campaign during the summer and encourages the promotion of environmental actions during the holidays. From June to July 2021, the Group joined hands with the Convention for the fourth consecutive year to promote the message of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought by carrying out a paper-collection project with its members. The project involved 273 community members, encouraging them to take action toward combatting desertification as they collected 152,847 kg of paper.

In 2022, Masdar raised awareness of climate change by supporting an Emirati company that had developed a board game to teach players how their actions can impact greenhouse gas emissions. The game One Earth features a QR code that links players to a digital platform, providing education on key concepts. In One Earth, up to four players act as a country and compete to build projects, introduce policies, and develop technologies to make their country more prosperous. Interestingly, how players build their projects impacts the level of greenhouse gas emissions for their own country — “exactly like real life.”

The Updated Second Nationally Determined Contribution (2022), developed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, focuses on different aspects of climate change. Nevertheless, it does not refer to climate change education. However, it mentions that “the UAE’s climate engagements are guided and supported by cross-cutting enablers, including finance, technology innovation, as well as public awareness and youth engagement” (p. 38).

According to the Green Education Partnership of April 2023, the Ministry of Education was to launch the Children’s Voice initiative, which would offer children champions in the country training opportunities to exercise their right to participate in decision-making related to their environmental future. Under the Educator’s Voice initiative, the Ministry was to highlight the key role of educators in raising awareness about climate change and in combatting its repercussions.

ii. Climate change and public access to information 

The National Climate Change Plan: 2017-2050 (2017) states that the introduction of a robust measurement, reporting, and verification system would offer an opportunity to improve data and information sharing and cross-sectoral coordination with regard to climate action. The Plan suggests long-term actions from 2030 to 2050, including expanding the greenhouse-gas-emissions management system to form a national climate-change management system. This system would serve as an information and data archive for all climate-related data, information, technical studies, and research. The management system would be a single integrated national system accessible to policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and the public. Similarly, the UAE General Environmental Policy: 2021 (2021) urges developing a national database on climate change and a national waste database.

The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre is a government centre attached to the UAE’s Ministry of Cabinet Affairs. The Centre is actively engaged in building an integrated national statistical system by improving the UAE’s competitiveness in various sectors, strengthening the country’s position in global competitiveness reports and indicators, and participating in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Centre provides statistics by subject, including the environment. In the Environment section, the website offers free access to yearly statistics on climate, desalinated produced water, treated wastewater, air quality, natural reserves, waste, and climate change.

Bayanat, the UAE’s official data portal, provides enhanced open data systems for public use. The portal reflects the government’s intention to strengthen sustainable communities based on participation and transparency. At the time of this review, the portal’s home page listed data sets, including the economy, education, society, technology, transportation, environment, government, health, and infrastructure. The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre manages and updates this data portal.

In April 2020, at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, the Environmental Agency – Abu Dhabi and the United Nations Environment Program launched the IRIS-3, a web platform available as a remotely hosted or intranet app that would make the assessment and reporting of environmental information at local, national, regional, and global scales more accessible, faster, and more unified. IRIS-3 aims to transform state-of-environment reporting and help decision-makers take informed and timely actions. IRIS-3 can automatically convert data collected from an organization’s routine environmental monitoring program into a standardized report while still allowing each organization to add its commentary on status, trends, causes, and consequences. The human- and machine-generated reports produced through IRIS-3 could then be easily aggregated at a national, regional, or global level to provide a broader picture of the state of the environment.

In 2022, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi announced the launch of e-Green, a digital environmental education platform that was the first collaborative e-learning tool exclusively dedicated to the environmental sector in the region. The aim of the e-Green tool, which was to be free, was to increase environmental knowledge and awareness, focusing on the environment and conservation in Abu Dhabi. In its first phase, e-Green was launched for schools and with content that could benefit students, educators, and environmental experts. In 2023, the platform was to be ready for its public launch, becoming available for everyone to use and enabling local, regional, and international organizations to upload their content and educational courses.

According to the UAE’s 4rth National Communication Report (2018), “Research and Development in the UAE are motivated by the issue of climate change but are focusing on developing technology for abatement compared to projects, which focuses on the improvements in data, and information, which [is] necessary to understand the impact of climate change on the UAE” (p. 106).

The UAE was to introduce the first education pavilion at COP 28 in Dubai in 2023. The pavilion, which was set up in partnership with UNESCO, was to act as an international platform to promote climate education teamwork.

iii. Climate change and public participation 

The National Climate Change Plan: 2017-2050 (2017) states that “the adaptation planning and implementation process is envisaged to strengthen the foundation for climate science. This will facilitate scientific and evidence-based decision-making that also includes broad participation from relevant stakeholders” (p. 39).

The Updated Second Nationally Determined Contribution (2022) emphasizes the importance of public participation, stating that “as a federation of seven emirates, the UAE develops and implements its climate and energy policies with the engagement of a range of actors in line with the legal and executive jurisdictions and roles laid down in its Constitution” (p. 12).

The UAE’s 4rth National Communication Report (2018) states that “the UAE is implementing a range of policies and programs both at the national and local levels to adapt to and reduce its vulnerability to climate change [...]. Decision-making is informed through a wide range of stakeholder consultation processes, including the private sector” (p. 51).

The Emirates Environmental Group runs One Root, One Communi-Tree, a major project that includes all sectors of society, corporates, academic institutions, and families. This project, which is accessible to the general public, offers all members an opportunity to plant trees in their name if they deposit a predetermined number of recyclable items during a specific period. The recyclable materials to be delivered include paper, plastic, aluminum cans, toner cartridges, glass, and mobile phones. The Emirates Environmental Group initiated the project in 2010 as a tree-planting event. After the Group had achieved its goals of mobilizing the public to manage recyclable waste and increase the sustainable green space in the UAE, they introduced this project as an annual event to connect the tree-planting campaign with the waste management program.

  1. Monitoring and evaluation

i. Country monitoring 

The monitoring of climate change communication and education had not been assigned to any specific ministry or agency at the time of this review. The UAE’s 4rth National Communication Report (2018) contains several recommendations to policymakers for unleashing the potential for energy and water efficiency in the UAE, including specific greenhouse gas reduction targets and detailed plans for implementation and monitoring.

Similarly, the National Climate Change Plan: 2017-2050 (2017) stresses the importance of strengthening and improving monitoring and observation to track climate change variables.

The UAE’s Sustainable Development Report (2022) outlined progress in achieving the Agenda 2030 of the Social Development Goals. Overall, the Report indicated that significant challenges remained in the UAE with regard to CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and cement production.

The UAE’s Voluntary National Review (2022) of progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2022) examined the mechanisms for overseeing implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals by reviewing pivotal national partners and stakeholders, sharing best practices, and highlighting the major achievements toward each goal. The Review describes the climate change context in the UAE in terms of the plans and strategies and initiatives being adopted to accelerate mitigation and adaptation efforts. It suggests various priority action points, including the increased availability of open data in support of reporting and monitoring the journey toward implementing the 2030 Agenda successfully.

The UAE’s National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals was formed in January 2017 to implement the Sustainable Development Goals by adopting a whole-of-government approach. The Committee is chaired by the Minister of State for International Cooperation, while the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority serves as vice-chair and secretariat for the Committee. The Committee, which comprises 17 federal government organizations, has the mandate to report and monitor progress made toward the Sustainable Development Goals. For that purpose, the SDG Data Hub tracks, monitors, and reports on milestones and progress to the UAE Cabinet and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; nevertheless, indicators for Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action) are not included.

The Environmental Performance Enhancement Initiative was launched at the annual meetings of the Government of the United Arab Emirates in September 2017 with the aims of improving the global competitiveness index in line with the UAE 2071 targets, making the UAE one of the best countries in the world in all sectors, and achieving UAE Vision 2021 (2010) by building a diversified economy that contributes to sustainable development that is based on innovation and research. Another aim of the initiative was to create a common mechanism for evaluating the environmental impact of projects, reducing carbon emissions, protecting fragile ecosystems, protecting the right of generations to clean air and clean water, enhancing environmental performance by reducing negative impacts on the environment, toward cleaner production and adoption of green practices.

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment administers the National Climate Change Adaptation Program, which assesses the impacts of climate change on key sectors. The first phase involved conducting a risk assessment for four sectors: health, infrastructure, the environment, and energy, which led to the identification of priority risks and relevant adaptation measures. The Program has taken into account existing initiatives that contribute to building resilience in these sectors and has proposed further measures that include physical safeguards, risk-management approaches, knowledge initiatives, and enablers. Envisaged as an iterative process, the risk assessment is to be reviewed and updated as new information becomes available. Through this Program, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment aims to enhance knowledge about climate risks and work with other stakeholders on adaptation efforts that address imminent risks. At the time of this review, education was not among the sectors to be assessed though the Program highlights awareness of adaptation strategies.

ii. MECCE Project Monitoring

The UAE’s National Environmental Education and Awareness Strategy 2015-2021 uses the word ‘sustainability’ 16 times. The word ‘environment’ is mentioned twice and ‘environmental’ 40 times. The term ‘climate change’ is referenced twice and ‘sustainable’ 7 times. There was no reference to the term ‘sustainable development.’

The Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (2015) mentions the words ‘environment’ 13 times, almost always related to the work environment; ‘environmental’ is mentioned 3 times and ‘sustainable’ 5 times. The terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ are included only once, and no reference to ‘climate change’ is made.

The General Curriculum Framework (2018) mentions the words ‘environment’ 24 times, ‘environmental’ 5 times; ‘sustainable’ 10 times, and ‘sustainable development’ 3 times. No reference to ‘climate change’ is made.

Last modified:

Fri, 24/11/2023 - 12:16