Abu Dhabi project highlights green issues
Children are the future and it is important there’s still a planet left for the next generation to live on in years to come.
So, authorities in Abu Dhabi have launched a year-long exhibition aimed at moulding eco-warriors of the future by teaching children about preserving water, limiting their carbon footprint and reducing energy consumption.
The Eco Future exhibition, which is now open at Abu Dhabi’s Manarat Al Saadiyat, boasts a huge array of interactive games for kids aged seven to 12, teaching everything from what foods to eat to how to build an eco-friendly car.
But there’s a serious message behind the fun, with hard-hitting exhibits and videos pointing out the massive per capita carbon footprint in the UAE, the enormous waste of water that point to depleted freshwater stocks in 50 years, and the casual waste of the earth’s resources through unnecessary packaging, discarding clothing and unbridled consumption.
Jan Ramirez, a teacher in the UAE, was visiting with her pupils and she believes the project is a step in the right direction.
“Even in the toilets, the amount of water that is wasted is huge. I do think the authorities are making an effort to change though but it’s going to take time,” she said. “Now in our school, we don’t allow teachers to bring cans into the school. Yes, there is a vending machine for teachers, no other aluminium cans can be brought to the school.”
Fun games at Eco Future, including ‘Liquid Wall’, ‘Food Game’, ‘Car Building’ and ‘The Chip’ all help children understand the serious issues we face in the 21st century. By highlighting the impact of travel, and our daily lifestyle choices, the project is sending out exactly the right messages to the next generation. But can children be convinced to save water when Eco Future takes place on the previously unpopulated island of Saadiyat - an area that is now home to plush hotels, five-star resorts and a golf course which consumes vast amounts of water to keep the grass green in soaring temperatures.
The contradiction between the exhibition and the day-to-day reality of consumption is a real issue in this part of the world.
Faisal Al Dhahri, a manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, said at the launch: “We are a young country, so it will take time.”
Al Dhahri points out how much more awareness the exhibition will bring to young people, especially as authorities have invited so many schools to come and see it.
He continued: “Of course, I cannot speak for the government on these issues but I think that there has been many things passed to help on environmental issues – for example we have Masdar City now (the sustainable community in Abu Dhabi built on environmentally friendly principles), where people are looking for alternative fuels and how to reduce energy waste, many things like this.”
Most of the schoolchildren visiting the exhibition agreed that awareness of green issues is growing and that more is being done to reduce the country’s huge carbon footprint. American School student Jules Sattandthan, 13, originally from the Netherlands, says he is shocked by the waste he sees but believes the situation is improving. He liked Eco Future’s video on recycling clothes and reducing fabric wastage. He has been in the UAE for five years and has seen improvements.
“There is a lot more recycling,” he said.
“I think the exhibition is very good, especially the parts about recycling your shoes and clothes and fabrics. Some people don’t care but you will see change over time.”
FAST FACTS LEARNED AT ECO-FUTURE
>> The UAE’s energy use is seven times the global average
>> The UAE is the world’s largest generator of waste
>> At current rates, the UAE’s fresh water supply will be unusable in 50 years
>> One computer left on all day releases over 680kg of carbon dioxide a year. It would take 100 to 500 trees to absorb that amount
>> It takes roughly 25 bathtubs of water to grow enough cotton to make a T-shirt
>> One per cent of the earth’s water is fresh. All the rest is salty sea water or frozen ice caps.