Home » 12th World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC2024) begins

12th World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC2024) begins

by Madaline Dunn

The 12th World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC2024) officially opened its doors yesterday and will run until 2 February at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), under the theme “Connecting People, Creating Tomorrow”.

Held for the first time in the Middle East, WEEC2024 brings together global leaders, environmental experts, educators, and advocates from 72 countries striving to drive forward environmental sustainability through education and address the interconnected challenges of climate emergency, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

The event, occurring every two years, sees experts gather to review best practices, share experiences, and discuss research on environmental education methods and outcomes.

The event is convened under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).

Speaking on the event, HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said: “The 12th edition of the World Environmental Education Congress is a testament to our nation’s unwavering commitment to advancing environmental education, knowledge-sharing and innovation in the UAE – important elements that will pave the path for progress.”

Adding: “As the first nation in the region to host the congress, we are proud to advance the UAE’s legacy in harnessing cross-cultural dialogue and sharing innovative practices. We will continue to ensure that the UAE leads by example in fostering environmental literacy and empowering communities to build a more resilient and sustainable future.”

Meanwhile, inaugurating the event, HE Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General at Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, commented: “In the continuity of the intense efforts to confront environmental challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and escalating pollution, the significance of environmental education often remains overlooked. While policy changes are crucial for safeguarding the planet, elevating education stands as the foundational step in realising our environmental objectives. Additionally, our collective response, shared knowledge, and commitment are the compass guiding us toward sustainability.

“It is in this context that WEEC2024 assumes a paramount role, serving as a powerful catalyst that will gather educators, NGOs, governments, and academia from across the globe to engage in profound discussions, critical evaluations, and invigorating exchanges on Environmental Education, all with the aim of driving tangible change. WEEC2024 emerges as a beacon of unity, where minds from around the world will come together to discuss the best solutions to these challenges head-on, forging decisive actions and strategic pathways towards a sustainable future through environmental education.”

Over four days, WEEC2024 will host plenary sessions, panel discussions, workshops, and youth-led initiatives.

The first day highlights the key environmental ‘challenges’ to be considered – featuring a line-up of exclusive speakers who will address the Triple Planetary Crisis and the Water, Food, and Energy Nexus.

Meanwhile, day two focuses on identifying the ‘goals’, fostering global unity for a sustainable future, and championing environmental education.

Similarly, day three investigates the ‘dimensions and means’ by which Environmental Education can be implemented, shining a spotlight on collaboration, values, and cultural diversity.

Day four solidifies key learnings, and takeaways and translates them into agreed actions that will be implemented beyond the event to align with the identified goals.

Finally, the fifth and last day of the congress features field trips, inviting participants to explore Abu Dhabi’s ecological and educational sites.

The Youth Environmental Education Conference (YEEC) will offer workshops, interactive sessions, and panel discussions, nurturing leadership skills and inspiring action among young changemakers.

Elizabeth Wathuti, Founder & Executive Director, Green Generation Initiative, Kenya commented: “Platforms such as the Youth Environmental Education Conference (YEEC) are pivotal in securing humanity’s future and ensuring the livability of our world today. If our actions lack sincerity, we fail not only those currently affected by the crisis but also the generations to come. The imperative lies in embracing genuine solutions and amplifying their impact through education. Environmental education equips individuals with the knowledge and tools needed to address challenges effectively, empowering the younger generation to become informed caretakers of our planet’s future.”

The event organisers also shared that they have taken “proactive steps,” including working with ADNEC, the event venue, to “embrace eco-conscious practices” and have undertaken an initiative to sequester delegates’ carbon footprint through the planting of mangroves.

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