Connect with Nature, a programme that encourages youth to protect the environment, has announced the first UAE-nationwide initiative to identify the nature leaders of the future. As wild fires continue to burn in Australia, and young activists around the world take action on the pressing issue of climate change, this programme will give young people a platform, acting as the UAE’s voice for nature.
The Ambassador for Nature competition will find 20 next-generation environmental advocates who will be granted access to mentorship, skills-building opportunities and nurturing to become environmental leaders. All those taking part will have the opportunity to learn more about how to protect nature, acquire skills and knowledge and get involved with activities that make a tangible impact on the UAE’s natural world.
The competition is designed for youth of ages 15 – 30, to empower and explore their passions, and ‘rewild’ in nature. Additionally, this will also help develop their leadership skills, connections, as well as build up their resume.
Backed by Emirates Nature-WWF, the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, and with the International Fund for Houbara Conservation as strategic partner, the programme will pick 20 environmental champions who will receive the honorary title of ‘UAE Nature Ambassador’, with an accredited global certification.
These 20 exceptional, home-grown heroes will inspire and influence their networks towards a greener and happier future. This follows research conducted by YouGov which found that 65% of young people in the UAE were keen to do more to protect the environment – a number that is growing all the time as more people are alerted to the global climate crisis.
To be part of the 20 for 20 UAE Ambassadors for Nature challenge, participants are required to complete four steps by the deadline of Earth Day, 22nd April: 1) Download the Connect with Nature app (Apple, Android) 2) Collect a total of 10 badges by earning 5 ‘Explore’ badges by getting out and discovering natural wonders of the UAE and 5 ‘Impact’ badges by creating a positive impact on the planet 3) Refer a minimum of 10 friends to join the Connect with Nature movement 4) And lastly, capture a video which explains how they would make a difference as an ambassador.
After the completion of the four steps, all participants are eligible to receive an official completion certificate. A jury of world-class judges will select the 20 official UAE Nature Ambassadors, with the winning champions announced on Environment Day, 5th June. They will hold the ambassador title for one year.
Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director General at Emirates Nature-WWF, said, "In line with the UAE’s Vision to build a sustainable future, we are pleased to announce the launch of our very first 20 for '20 UAE Ambassadors for Nature competition, which highly encourages youth to take a step forward and make the difference towards a better future. Our ambassadors will be committed role models to the upcoming generations and help to drive the UAE’s increasingly important nature and environment initiatives."
There are a number of upcoming events and activities for people to choose from and earn badges, including attending activations at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week – where youth can earn 7 badges during the week, the Middle East Youth Expo, and a plethora of activities in nature including citizen science workshops – all of which can be found on the Connect with Nature App and website.
While receiving an official title that recognises their commitment to the environment, the ambassadors will also qualify for training through the Emirates Nature-WWF Leadership Programme including corporate internships where they will get to solve real sustainability problems in real organisations. The ambassadors will also host Connect with Nature activities, be the voice of the UAE at key environmental calendar events and potentially visit other WWF offices around the world.
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