Education for Sustainable Development: Key Challenges

education-for-sustainable-developmentThe basic aim of 'Education for Sustainable Development' is to nurture an individual who is capable to solve environmental challenges facing the world and to promote the formation of a sustainable society. The first challenge is to have an ethos in schools that openly and enthusiastically supports the development of ESD (Education for Sustainable Development). This is partly down to the curriculum the school follows, but is mainly as a result of the interest and effort shown by senior management in promoting integration and whole school engagement; a critical element being teacher training. It is also down to the expectations that are put upon schools by education authorities when it comes to ESD.

With trained and motivated teachers, it is far easier to inspire and motivate students. Teachers can often use the environment as a vehicle for teaching certain concepts in their own specific subject. Once teachers have decided that this is something they feel is worthwhile, they will increasingly find ways to do so.

Using environmental issues in student learning shows students the bigger picture, which can significantly improve motivation. By letting pupils know why the work they are completing is important, and showing them where it fits in on a local and global scale, you’re enabling them to see its value.

Another challenge is being able to bridge the gap between what happens at home and what is taught in schools. For example, if a child is learning about recycling at school, but parents are not open to supporting their learning by adopting recycling practices at home, then the child, especially at a young age, receives very conflicting messages.

Schools are busy places and there are increasing pressures on teachers within the workplace. These can create additional challenges such as gaps between awareness and understanding; motivation to and knowledge of how to become more sustainable; individual to collective empowerment; finding time; budget restraints; linking infrastructure change to mind set change and whole community engagement.

However, with a more directed focus and commitment towards ESD in schools, children generally need very little motivation to care for their environment. You just have to give them a voice and they are away! The problem often comes from adults not understanding the bigger picture about caring for the long term future of the planet.

Strategy for GCC Countries

When it comes to educating locals and expats in the GCC, it can be categorized into three parts:

The physical change: looking at how schools, households and businesses can reduce their waste, water and energy and focus on more sustainable resources in general.

The mind set change: this is all about raising environmental understanding, awareness and action programmes throughout the school and business communities through workshops, cross-curricular activities and presentations, so that everybody is on the 'same page', as well as giving students and employees a voice. This leads to a fundamental change in attitudes and the choices people make.

Learning to respect others and appreciate the environment, as well as giving back to society: this is focused around the opportunities to learn beyond the workplace and home, and connect back to nature, as well as help communities in need. In a nutshell, it about being more caring.

Partnerships and action orientated behaviour within all 3 parts are crucially important to their success. Environmental awareness in itself is not enough, simply because awareness without leading to meaningful action and behaviour change goes nowhere.

Using environmental issues in student learning shows children the bigger picture

Using environmental issues in student learning shows children the bigger picture

This approach can be illustrated in the Beyond COP21 Symposium series that I am currently running globally with the support of Eco-Schools. The event consists of themed high impact presentations from, and discussions with, guest speakers on the SDGs Agenda 2030 and climate negotiations in and beyond Paris; individual & community action; pledge- making and practical activities/workshops.

Local sustainable companies and organisations are invited to showcase their initiatives and engage with students from a variety of schools, both local and expat, in each city or region. Successfully run in Dubai twice and with an upcoming event in Jordan, the Middle East region has certainly embraced the partnership approach when it comes to supporting environmental education initiatives that benefit all those involved.

Role of Technology and Social Media

The greatest role it can play is through the spread of information and ideas, as well as the sharing of good practice within the GCC. Sometimes the hardest thing is to know where to start and how to become motivated, and certainly both can help. Also technology can help to source important resources for teachers. Bee’ah’s School of Environment, which I have been recently developing new online resources for, is a very good example of how well this can work.

Please visit my website http://www.target4green.com for more information about my organization and its activities.

Green Resolutions for New Year

green-resolutionsThis year, in addition to our personal goals, let us make another New Year resolution: to make this year the year we really ‘go green’. Supporting environmental initiatives should be one of our main priorities and needs to be reflected through our resolutions and commitment to safeguard it against all forms of pollution and to protect our fragile and finite resources. Depending on our age, work, location etc., our priorities may be different but our actions should be in unison towards environmental protection.

We need to understand that we have very recklessly plundered the global resources in a short span of time that is causing many adversities and catastrophes, but we are the only species that have to take preventive measures to avoid any such occurrences in future. Let us make sincere pledges and serious commitments towards our planet and protecting our environment.

Let us, at the least, try to support the following activities and tasks starting from this year and onward, if we have not practiced earlier:

  • Protect and enhance the green spaces, parks and playgrounds.
  • Utilizing our roof for gardening and creating green areas.
  • Enviauditing of our household and office related activities. Improving tasks that require electricity and water usage.
  • Use minimum water for our daily activities.
  • Wash clothes in normal water and washing only when full loads are in the dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Turn off the faucet while we brush our teeth or shave.
  • Watering our lawn in the morning/ evening to reduce evaporation losses.
  • Changing incandescent bulbs for C.F.L.s.
  • Conserve energy in all forms. Switch lights when not in use.
  • Unplug mobile charger and computer after use as it wastes a lot of energy.
  • Avoid fast fashion. Reduce our insatiable appetite for design apparel and related clothing that we wear for only one season and throw it in next. Only buy what you need.
  • Do green shopping and donate items/ clothes we do not use.
  • Detox your home. Only use safe chemicals and detergents as household cleaning products for furniture, bathrooms and clothes including air fresheners.
  • Reuse and recycle material
  • Plan vehicle trips to avoid peak hours and traffic congestion.
  • Avoiding wasting any food items.
  • Avoid plastic bags and taking our own bag for shopping.
  • Avoid using Styrofoam cups, disposable cutlery and other related items.
  • Avoid un-necessary print outs and photocopy.
  • Minimize using bottled drinking water. This is expensive and generates plastic bottles waste. Instead use filtering equipment at home or use large refillable and reusable bottles.
  • Avoid using paper towels and napkins. Instead use cotton clothes and old used fabrics.
  • Enhancing our awareness by reading and knowing more on environment.

Let us make sincere pledges and serious commitments towards our planet and protecting our environment (Image Courtesy: www.inhabitat.com)

Let us make sincere pledges and serious commitments towards our planet and protecting our environment (Image Courtesy: www.inhabitat.com)

Enjoy the festivities of the season and be a more responsible citizen of the world. Happy New Year!

أسلوب حياة أخضر

green-lifestyle-arabicتبني "أسلوب حياة أخضر" هو محاولة لترشيد استغلال الفرد أو المجتمع للموارد الطبيعية عن طريق تغيير أساليب النقل واستهلاك الطاقة، واستخدام المياه وغيرها. ويعنى أسلوب الحياة الأخضر بتلبية الاحتياجات البيئية والاجتماعية، والاقتصادية الحالية دون المساس بقدرة الأجيال المقبلة على تلبية احتياجاتها. ويعد انخفاض حجم البصمة البيئية أو الكربونية هو النتيجة الطبيعية لأسلوب المعيشة المستدامة.

ويعتبر تلوث المياه، وتلوث التربة، وتلوث الهواء، والتخلص من النفايات والمحافظة على الموارد الطبيعية، وحماية الحياة البرية من التحديات البيئية الرئيسية التي تواجه البشرية. ولكلٍ منا دور يمكن أن يلعبه لتحقيق الاستدامة، وذلك من خلال تبني أسلوب حياة خضراء. وفيما يلي بعض النصائح التي يمكن أن تساعد في خلق بيئة صحية لك ولعائلتك، وللأرض كذلك:

  1. اتبع/ي التسلسل الهرمي للتعامل مع النفايات: يمكن تحقيق ذلك من خلال التدرج ابتداءً من تقليل الاستهلاك، ثم إعادة الاستخدام ثم إعادة تدوير ما تبقى.
  2. جرب/ي تغيير استخدام الاشياء: وذلك بتحويل النفايات إلى مواد أو منتجات ذات جودة أو قيمة أعلى من السلعة الأصلية، على سبيل المثال تحويل كيس من البلاستيك إلى بطانة داخلية لحاويات القمامة أو تحويل عبوة بلاستيكية إلى حاضنة بذور.
  3. حول/ي المواد العضوية إلى سماد: حيث يمكن انتاج السماد بتخمير المواد العضوية لإضافة المواد المغذية لتربة حديقة المنزل وتقليل نفاياتك المنزلية في نفس الوقت.
  4. أعد/أعيدي استخدام المياه: على الرغم من أهمية المياه كمورد لا يمكن الاستغناء عنه إلا أن محدوديتها تقضي بضرورة تدويرها و إعادة استخدامها؛ كاستخدام المياه الرمادية -بعد معالجتها -في نظام التدفق في المراحيض، وفي ري الحدائق. كما يوفر تجميع مياه الأمطار مصدرا اخر من المياه ذات النوعية الجيدة.
  5. بادر/ي بترشيد استخدام الطاقة: تعتبر الطاقة هي القوة الدافعة للتنمية، ويمكن القيام ببعض الممارسات للتقليل من هدرها كإطفاء أجهزة الكمبيوتر ليلاً، واستبدال المصابيح بتلك الموفرة للطاقة وتجنب وضع الأجهزة في وضع الاستعداد في حال عدم الحاجة لها.
  6. أعد/أعيدي التفكير في حاجتك للمياه المعبأة في عبوات بلاستيكية: لابد أن نتنبه إلى أن عبوات المياه البلاستيكية تستغرق آلاف السنين لتتحلل.لذا من الأجدر الاستغناء عنها بعبوة قابلة لإعادة الاستخدام.
  7. حاول/ي إعادة تدوير الهواتف المحمولة القديمة: يتم الاستغناء عن مئات الملايين من الهواتف المحمولة في كل عام مما يتسبب بإدخال العديد من المواد السامة إلى الأنظمة البيئية، في حال التخلص منها في مكبات النفايات المنزلية. هناك العديد من المشاريع التي تقوم بإعادة تدوير الهواتف ,أغلبها لتمويل مبادرات نبيلة.
  8. أعد/أعيدي تدوير الألومنيوم والزجاج: يمكن انتاج عشرين علبة ألمنيوم معاد تدويرها بنفس كمية الطاقة اللازمة لتصنيع علبة واحدة جديدة. وبالمثل، فإن كل طن من الزجاج المعاد تدويره يوفر ما يعادل تسعة غالونات من زيت الوقود اللازم لصنع الزجاج من المواد الخام.
  9. تجنب/ي استخدام الأكياس البلاستيكية: يتم استهلاك حوالي تريليون كيس في جميع أنحاء العالم كل عام مما يتسبب بأضرار عديدة في الأنظمة البيئية. ويمكن الاستعاضة بأكياس القماش القابلة للتحلل والتي يمكن إعادة استخدامها.
  10. نمي الأفكار: المعيشة المستدامة ليست مهمة صعبة المنال. يمكن لأشياء بسيطة، مثل زرع شجرة، أن تحدث فرقا ملموسا.

 

green_living_middle-east

ترجمه

سمر طه

يوسف بنغزواني

 

Effective Energy Management for Businesses

energy-management-middle-east-businessesMiddle East has been witnessing a rapid increase in energy consumption due to high degree of industrialization, high standards of living and exponential increase in population. Infact, the level of primary energy consumption in the Middle East is among the highest worldwide.  These factors have made businesses in Middle East to realize that effective energy management is not only good for the businesses but also an essential requirement.

In recent years, many businesses in the Middle East have come up with dynamic strategies to achieve immediate reduction in energy consumption. This trend towards effective energy management is expected to continue to grow in the region in the coming years on account on changing regulations and growing awareness on energy conservation.

Ingredients of Effective Energy Management Plan

For an energy management plan to succeed, the entire organization including its employees and management team, should be committed to the implementation of energy management strategy whose main elements are:

  • Goal-setting: how much energy reduction do you want to achieve?
  • Number-crunching: how much energy do you consume?
  • Identifying energy-guzzlers: What are major consumption units and what measures can be taken to reduce consumption
  • Technology and automation: Smart metering, schedule-based lighting, occupancy sensors, HVAC control and latest technological innovation provides an active approach to energy management
  • Continuous review and management: Regular performance monitoring is essential to check the progress towards your energy-saving goals. 

Hurdles to Overcome

​Lack of incentives to reduce energy consumption is a major hurdle faced by businesses in the Middle East. In the GCC region, electricity is usually provided at heavily subsidized rates which fail to provide the motivation to the consumer to reduce energy consumption. Most of the commercial buildings in the Middle East consume huge amount of energy in the form of HVAC, lighting, ventilation etc., and there is a real need to make such buildings ‘ energy smart’ in the real sense of the word.

An energy smart building - Siemens headquarters at Masdar

An energy smart building – Siemens headquarters at Masdar

Role of Technology

Technology plays a vital role in reducing energy consumption as energy-savings are not limited to power consumption by HVAC, lighting or ventilations, but also encompass optimization of energy use, building infrastructure, supply chain networks, product design, transportation networks etc. Businesses in the Middle East may strive for energy-smart buildings, smart grid systems and renewable energy sources (like rooptop solar and biogas systems) to improve their long-term sustainability and more effective cost-management.

World Habitat Day – Shelter for All

world-habitat-dayWorld Habitat Day is observed every year on the first Monday of October throughout the world. It was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/202 and was first celebrated in 1986 with the theme “Shelter is My Right”. The purpose of the day is to reflect on the state of our urban areas and the basic human right regarding provision of adequate shelter to all human beings. World Habitat Day (or WHD) also aims to remind the planners and government officials of the collective responsibility for the habitat of future generations and a day to encourage grassroots action from civil society organizations to advocate for universal decent housing.

Shelter for All

Each year, World Habitat Day takes on a new theme chosen by the United Nations based on current issues relevant to the Habitat Agenda. The themes of WHD are selected to bring attention to UN-Habitat’s mandate to promote sustainable development policies that ensure adequate shelter for all. These themes often promote important subjects such as housing and social services, a safe and healthy living environment, affordable and sustainable transport and energy, promotion, protection and restoration of green urban spaces, safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, healthy air quality, employment generation, improved urban planning, slum upgrading and better waste management.

WHD 2016 – Housing at the Center

World Habitat Day 2016 will be celebrated on 3 October 2016 under the theme ‘Housing at the Centre’ encouraging that every individual has a right to a decent housing/ shelter with basic amenities to survive. It will also mark the official beginning of Urban October month of celebrations, events and activities. The day is a reminder to everyone to join together as one global network in communicating the message that every one of us deserves the opportunity for a better living and future.

The purpose of World Habitat Day is to pay serious attention towards the need for better shelter all over the world, to share the priority of affordable, adequate and sustainable housing, to bring the positive changes in the systems including policies and attitudes, to reflect on the states and towns and pay attention on the basic human rights for adequate shelter and to increase the awareness worldwide of joint responsibility for the future generation’s shelter.

Global Housing Crisis

We need to understand that with a population of over seven billion, there is an acute global housing crisis, as approximately 1.6 billion people worldwide are living in the substandard housing/ slums and almost 100 million people are homeless. The WHD aims to draw the people attention towards the urgent need of adequate housing especially for the poor people.

Providing and improving housing is a gigantic task and cannot be dealt only by the governmental authorities. It require involvement of all stakeholders including communities, NGOs and experienced developers to optimize urban densities and provide land zoning with efficient services and utilities that are environmental friendly and have minimum carbon footprint. With the shortage of urban space, we need to develop in a sustainable manner to keep room for future growth and accommodate population in coming decades.

More than a billion people worldwide are living in substandard living conditions.

More than a billion people worldwide are living in substandard living conditions.

In the GCC countries including Bahrain, the concerned authorities are giving due attention to the subject of planning and providing decent housing to citizens and to avoid any social, health and environmental problems. 

Let us whole-heartedly support and celebrate the World Habitat Day and organize any activity or event in our own community including an awareness campaign, a fun activity, area cleanliness and get together in parks and public spaces.