Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) has called for eco-literacy among students and the promotion of public private partnerships (PPPs) to drive green strategy in UAE’s schools.

The recommendations for transforming UAE schools into sustainable environments are highlighted in the State of Our Schools white paper authored by EmiratesGBC following a roundtable of the Emirates Coalition for Green Schools, a national initiative launched by EmiratesGBC aligned with the Global Coalition for Green Schools.

The event was supported by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Taqati and Etihad Energy Services. 

READ: EmiratesGBC reveals nine priority areas for 2018

The participants included representatives of government, tertiary level academics, elementary school teachers, education and sustainability related associations, media and the private sector.

Talking about the report, Saeed Al Abbar, chairman of EmiratesGBC, said: “The State of Our Schools report is an important first step not only in further driving the environmental performance of our schools but also in promoting concerted action to strengthen eco-literacy among our one million students.

"These young people are our future and it is important that we inculcate environmental awareness among them, which in turn will benefit not only the school environment but also the community and nation, at large.

“With several notable works done by the educational authorities to promote environmental sustainability in schools, we have a platform to build this dialogue further. Through collective action and strong public private partnership, we can achieve the Coalition’s vision of ‘ensuring that every child in the UAE has the opportunity to learn in a green school within this generation."

Aref Abouzahr, executive director of Taqati Dubai Energy Efficiency Program and member of the Emirates Coalition for Green Schools, said: “With overall trends indicating the need to make our schools greener, it is of utmost importance to focus on energy efficiency alongside environmental aspects.

"To build and sustain the momentum of green transformation, schools should invest in energy efficient solutions and technologies such as retrofitting and transitioning towards renewable energy sources, particularly distributed solar.

"Green schools would greatly support the UAE’s sustainability vision and energy efficiency goals set forth by our leadership.”

The three key objectives of the roundtable have now been achieved with the white paper, which defines green schools in the UAE, assesses the current state of the UAE schools, and identifies which stakeholders must be engaged to determine an effective course of action.

A "green school" is defined as one that "provides a healthy environment for occupants conducive to learning while optimising environmental performance and encouraging environmental literacy". 

The State of our Schools report points out the consensus among the various stakeholders that "a very limited number of schools fulfil all the aspects of the definition of a green school".

The White Paper points out that with 1,316 schools in the UAE and over a million students enrolled, the nation has significant potential to achieve green schools by educating and influencing the future advocators of sustainability - the students.

The ‘State of Our Schools’ White Paper is the first step in an intended series of roundtables and accompanying publications to help drive the vision of the Emirates Coalition of Green Schools.