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Abu Dhabi schools reduce water use

The drive has resulted in a 23pc reduction in school waste per capita

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Sustainability initiative to include environmental conference for member schools
Sustainability initiative to include environmental conference for member schools

Over the last four years, an initiative to promote environmental awareness and leadership among schools in the emirate of Abu Dhabi has led to a 54 per cent reduction in water consumption among participating institutions.

The drive, known as the Sustainable Schools Initiative, has also resulted in a 23 per cent reduction in school waste per capita, and created many active eco clubs at schools to promote sustainability.

Based on its success, organisers Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) announced in the capital that Abu Dhabi’s eco club members will soon get a chance to meet environmental youth leaders from around the world.

“An annual two-day conference will be organised so that pupils get a chance to interact with others as passionate about the environment as they are. The first edition of the conference will be held by the end of 2013,” Fawzia Mahmoud, director of the environmental outreach division at the EAD, told local media. “In addition, schools that perform commendably will be recognised as ‘Lead Schools’, and they will coach other schools on how to improve environmental sustainability,” she added.

Fawzia was speaking at a conference held to announce updates to the sustainability initiative, which was first introduced in 2009.
Since then, participating schools have conducted a green audit each year to measure their performance in five elements, namely, water consumption, waste production, energy use, air pollution and biodiversity promotion. At the end of each academic year, schools that made significant contributions towards conserving the environment were also recognised.

From this year onwards, participating schools will have two consecutive years to implement their efforts and measure their progress. This change has been introduced to provide schools with additional time to assess their environmental impact, and also measure the effects of long-term solutions, EAD officials said. Mahmoud added that the awards would be given out to winning schools once every two years.

In 2009, the sustainability initiative saw 50 participating schools. By 2012, this number had increased to 130 public and private institutions, and had brought about a range of schemes to promote environmental awareness.

“For example, while educating the community, a public school in the Western Region realised that many people had expired medicines at home, and did not know how to safely dispose of them. So they began to collaborate with health-care centres, and created a channel through which people could dispose of medical waste through the centres,” the EAD official said.

Another effort saw a private school reach out to farmers to highlight the risks of burning green waste instead of recycling it.

Fawzia added that the EAD is currently not looking towards increasing the number of participating schools.

“Instead, we hope these schools will be able to come up with newer ideas and improve the effectiveness of their schemes,” she said.

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