Though the world is currently grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, issues related to global environment and pollution cannot be put on the back burner.
There has been increased realisation particularly among the world’s youth that there is an emergency-like situation concerning climate change and environmental degradation. More and more young voices are being heard around the globe expressing their concerns on the fate of future generations.
Massive awareness and sensitisation campaigns are being launched around the world introducing novel and unique ideas. Qatar is no exception when it comes to taking environmental issues seriously. There are different youth led groups involved in raising awareness and offering voluntary services to commit to the cause.
The Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar (AYCMQA) and Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), member of Qatar Foundation, recently launched a new initiative to nominate environmental ambassadors of Qatar. It is a programme aiming to have special ambassadors for environment to further highlight the cause. They have selected 22 ambassadors for 2020-2021 coherent from 300-plus applicants.
“Today every commercial product is recognised by a brand ambassador be it a luxury watch or toothbrush. Why not for the environment, that provides sustenance and spiritual comfort. We want our society to be in awe and wonder about our natural ecosystems by highlighting what they do quietly and remarkably profound. The aim of this programme is to produce quality research and produce content that raises awareness on various local environmental issues. We hope this programme can instigate positive change at personal and corporate levels within the country and beyond,” said Abdulrahman al-Muftah, director Environmental Ambassador Programme.
Abdulrahman added: “‘Environment Ambassadors,’ a one-of-its-kind programme in Qatar on environment, is an active and educational leadership programme focusing on timeless, universal ecological principles applicable to all-natural ecosystems in addition to location-specific subjects. The topics will range from climate change, terrestrial ecosystem, oceans, seed conservation to renewable energy, waste management, voluntary simplicity, etc. After a rigorous selection process, the individuals will be trained to dedicate part of their time in raising awareness of the subject and highlight the current status and what needs to be done through a year-long campaign in social media, public events, schools, universities and other relevant platforms.”
Each ambassador will be trained to communicate their ideas in an accessible format to a wider audience. “The ambassadors will get opportunities to represent AYCMQ and QGBC at different forums, attend international youth conferences and summits, travel grants, based on the availability, to present their findings on community engagement as well as do various projects, short video and social media engagements to reach a wider audience etc. This will enable the youth to be serious about the natural system that is taken for granted,” said Neeshad Shafi, AYCMQA executive director.
The ambassadors will spotlight topics such as: climate change, air pollution, plastic pollution, terrestrial biodiversity, marine biodiversity, food chain and web, natural cycles, ecological services, guardians of seeds, consumption, metaphors between human cities and natural ecosystems, sustainability in nature and human communities, environmental conservation, and connections: person to person, creature to creature, land to sea, and present to future.
“The programme also fosters confidence and creativity in the youth through team building and displaying their individual activities at a personal level as well as on trained topics. Designed to connect participants of all ages with nature and inspire them to protect it, the programme will empower each of its ambassadors to take action to promote sustainable living in their communities at home, school and universities, thus becoming ambassadors of environment and sustainability at large,” Neeshad said.
The goals of the programme are: to demonstrate the wonders of nature; to develop knowledge of and respect for the environment; to show how people depend on and impact the natural environment; to inspire everyone to protect natural resources and to live in an environmentally responsible manner; to empower youth with the knowledge and resources to become the ambassador in their communities, advocating and promoting sustainable living.
Speaking about eligibility for the selection, the AYCMQA representative said: “Any committed Qatari or resident young or adult who can spare a few hours every month to educate themselves and the community about the topics and find creative ways to spread the information to a diverse audience – children, young adults and adults in different locations – schools, universities, workplace, majlis, and conferences were considered.
“We looked for ambassadors with a strong desire to work for their community on a voluntary basis. The ambassadors selected were students, university graduates and also select community members committed to environmental issues with a strong previous track record. The programme is going to be for one year.”