Teen sustainability advocate expresses optimism over the future of sustainability in the UAE

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“The UAE is making great strides in the area of sustainable development; be it through government initiatives, public-private partnerships, investments in clean technologies, or youth empowerment, the future of sustainability in the UAE looks extremely positive and exciting”, explains Isha Reddy, 17, founder of Go Akhdar, a platform that encourages sustainable living through community initiatives.

Isha, a student at Dubai International Academy, recently attended the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2021, hosted by Masdar, and is highly optimistic that UAE is driving the change towards a cleaner and greener future in the region. ADSW brings together world leaders, entrepreneurs, and academicians from around the world, under one platform, to discuss and design strategic solutions to our world’s sustainability challenges.

“Attending ADSW, particularly the Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S) forum, was extremely enriching. I had the opportunity to listen to visionary leaders in this field, including His Excellency, Dr. Abdulla Belhaif AlNuaimi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Francesco La Camera, Director General of IRENA, and His Excellency Eng. Awaidha Al Marar, Chairman of the Department of Energy Abu Dhabi. It was inspiring to hear about UAE’s sustainability vision and goals, and why youth should be empowered and educated to bring about a positive change. As said by H.E Dr. Abdulla AlNuaimi, “To reach our goal we need to engage our countries most valuable asset – young people”.

“As the founder of Go Akhdar, I am excited to be a part of UAE’s sustainability journey. It is heartening to see the government supporting youth and empowering them to become global leaders,” says Isha, when the UAE Minister of Community Development, Her Excellency Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, shared one of Go Akhdar’s social media posts on her Instagram story. “I am truly honored and grateful for Her Excellency’s kind and encouraging gesture, which further motivates me to continue my efforts”, remarked Isha.

Isha thinks it is becoming increasingly important for both individuals and businesses to be mindful of their resource consumption and disposal. “Being environmentally conscious, reflecting on one’s carbon footprint, becoming a responsible consumer, and contributing towards a circular economy are some of the simple ways to build a new culture of sustainability in societies.”

The Head of Secondary at Dubai International Academy, Emirates Hills, Mr. Hitesh Bhagat remarked proudly, “I am thrilled to see Isha take on the mantle of sustainability in such an impressive way. We need more students like her who put the environment before all else and think about our footprint on the planet.”

She has been a sustainability advocate since her early teens, and also published a book on sustainable development at the age of 15. Now, through her sustainability startup Go Akhdar, Isha aims to help people go green by sharing green news and blogs, and creating community engagement initiatives, like the contactless recycling drive she organized in October 2020. “Through this 10-day recycling drive, I was able engage more than 700 students from across the UAE to collect and recycle waste. Because of the pandemic we had to do it all remotely, but through effective collaboration and communication, we were successful in motivating a large number of individuals to take both action and responsibility for the environment”. Apart from this, Go Akhdar also recently organized a virtual eco winter camp, focusing on creating awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals through hands-on activities. Besides environmental awareness, such initiatives also offer students the opportunity to volunteer and participate in community service. “Go Akhdar is a platform that is open to people of all age groups. I urge anyone who is interested in getting involved to register as a Go Akhdar member on www.goakhdar.com, and follow @goakhdar on social media”.

While it is vital for governments and businesses to set and work towards long-term sustainability goals, Isha also believes that it is important for individuals and communities to do their bit to make a tangible impact. “Thanks to the concerted efforts of government authorities and other organizations, the shift is already occurring. People are beginning to push businesses to come up with more sustainable products and workplace solutions, schools are inculcating positive environmental habits in children from as early as kindergarten, and institutional investors are willing to invest in green projects and ventures, all of which are positive trends. I believe the world is heading in the right direction, and the future of sustainability looks very promising.”