12. April 2020 — Press Release
12.04.2020 — خبر صحفى

‘Connect with Nature’ Programme Launches First-of-its-kind Virtual Experiences for UAE Youth

  • The ‘Connect with Nature’ movement has reinvented its approach to interactive conservation education by embracing innovative virtual experiences
  • UAE youth across the nation can now get involved in a wide-range of virtual experiences while staying at home, which will instill key sustainability skills which science has shown is learnt best outside of the classroom environment
  • Virtual experiences can count towards youth’s opportunity to become one of the honorary 20 for ’20 UAE Ambassadors for Nature

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – April 12, 2020: Youth across the country can continue to make a real environmental impact, from the safety and comfort of their homes, through the UAE’s Connect with Nature programme. In the last year, the programme has engaged with more than 4,500 youth through over 90 outreach events and experiences, including community workshops, field experiences, citizen science research and action-packed challenges. In order to continue delivering this exciting line-up of experiences during the “new normal” of self-quarantine, the Connect with Nature programme has introduced for the first time, a series of virtual experiences that will prove that there are plenty of ways to connect with nature without being outdoors. These first-of-their-kind virtual experiences will allow young people to unleash their curiosity, explore their passion, earn a range of virtual badges all while developing new skills with the ultimate objective of driving positive change for people and planet.

Emirates Nature–WWF and Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi (EAD) co-founded the Connect with Nature programme, with the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) as a strategic partner, to encourage younger generations to discover the natural wonders of the UAE while building their leadership skills. To keep nature top of mind and empower youth to become change makers and leaders in sustainability, Connect with Nature will host a series of virtual experiences for participants to partake in while they practice physical distancing.

Youth can choose to take part in a series of virtual experiences to collect a minimum of 10 badges for the opportunity to earn the honourable title of ‘UAE Ambassador for Nature’. In January of this year, the “20 for ‘20” nation-wide search was announced – an initiative to identify 20 sustainability leaders of the future. These exceptional, home-grown heroes will be selected based on meaningful action around environmental conservation and sustainability which can be tracked through the Connect with Nature programme. Future ambassadors will have exclusive access to mentorship and skills-building opportunities. Commenting on the initiative, H.E. Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General at the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi said, “Following the government’s immediate response to tackle the current pandemic, we are pleased to bring the Connect with Nature programme to homes across the UAE. Our exciting series of virtual events will give youth the opportunity to learn and engage from the safety of their homes, while promoting physical distancing in line with the direction of the government authorities. These virtual experiences will provide food for thought, insight and we hope some light relief over the coming weeks and encourage residents to remain connected to important discussions on environmental sustainability whether they are distance learning or working from home. Through these virtual experiences, we hope to empower and inspire our youth to become leaders in shaping an optimistic future for our planet.”

Youth can expect a wide variety of virtual experiences which are updated weekly on the Connect with Nature activities hub. The calendar of activities kicked off at the beginning of April with a Virtual Youth Circle around the topic ‘Unexpected Ways we are Connected to Nature’, an UpCycling Your Plastic Bags workshop and Zero-waste talk, all of which were engaging and well attended. Below are a few of the upcoming events in the calendar – with lots more in the pipeline.

  • Notice Nature 12 Day Challenge – bring nature back into your life with tips and ideas on how to connect with nature from the safety of your home

    Date & time: Ongoing

  • Live Cook Along – discover a plant-based recipe for Pink Creamy Pasta in this virtual cooking class with local chef @healthyandvegan

    Date & time: Saturday April 11, 2020 from 12:00pm – 1:00 pm

  • Pod Party – tune in to a podcast party on recovering from Covid-19 and becoming stronger in our fight against climate change.

    Date & time: Saturday April 18, 2020 from 3:00pm to 4:00pm

  • Water Conservation Diary – explore new ways to save water around the house in this 14 day challenge… start by turning off the tap while you wash your hands!

    Date & time: Starts Monday April 20, 2020

  • Virtual Debate – share your opinions in an online debate, complete with a virtual presenter and live audience!

    Date & time: Wednesday April 22, 2020 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Since launching, the Connect with Nature programme has spent more than 5,000 hours engaging with youth across six of the seven emirates. An important learning has been that youth residing in the UAE are intrinsically motivated by making a real impact on the environment versus just engaging in fun or adventurous activities that may not have a tangible effect on nature. Activities such as beach clean-ups, as part of ‘Citizen Science’ initiatives, have been one of the most popular activities. The Connect with Nature movement has also discovered that human connection is an essential factor in inspiring youth to drive change – which is why this human element is deeply seeded in the series of virtual experiences currently on offer on the activities hub.

For more information on the Connect with Nature virtual experiences, please visit: https://connectwithnature.ae/activities