Youth perceptions of sustainability in the UAE

Explore youth perspectives of sustainability in the UAE with our innovative project, backed by the UK government's FCDO 'Gulf Strategic Fund'. Join us in bridging the green skills gap.

Project objectives

Through the support of the UK government’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) ‘Gulf Strategic Fund’ via the UK’s UAE Embassy, this innovative project will equip school students in the UAE with the knowledge and skills required to engage and advocate for environmental sustainability through individual and community behavioural change. In addition, the project is engaging with industry and government identifying and mapping the green skills gap in the region. As such, this will enable the project to provide resources to UAE schools to ensure that students have the skills needed to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. 

Progress to date

To build upon the climate science workshops the UoB has delivered around the University of Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) project with Professor Jerry Pritchard, we are now moving to the next phase of our school outreach programme. This next phase is on climate change literacy and empowerment of the youth voice and will begin with communication and forum theatre workshops leading to student presentations at COP28 in December. This approach will allow students to express themselves in an authentic way that will encompass a wide range of views on climate change and foster communicative strategies to have meaningful conversations about climate change and sustainability at COP28 and beyond. 

School outreach


Focus groups have taken place with numerous schools in the UAE to ascertain what sustainability teaching and related after school activities are taking place and how the University of Birmingham can best support these efforts. Numerous student workshops have been held to prepare for the COP28 event. We launched our ‘UoB Sustainability Ambassador Scheme’ through which students sign up to attend the series of events and commit to undertaking 350 conversations with friends, family, peers around sustainability issues. These conversations will feed into later workshops.

Group of school students looking at university stand

Raffles International School students at the University's COP28 stand.

Group of school students in front of university stand

Raffles International School students at the University's COP28 stand.

Group of school students presenting a poster

Arbor School students at the University's COP28 stand.

Person giving a presentation to group

Captivating presentation by Hessa from Raffles International Academy impresses Brazilian delegation at COP28, hailed as a standout amidst 4 days in the Blue Zone.

Sustainability Ambassadors Camp: empowering future leaders

The Sustainability Ambassadors Camp at the University of Birmingham Dubai, made possible through FCDO funding, brought together students from over 15 schools in the UAE. The camp offerred students the unique opportunity to engage with the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BiFoR) and explore the intricate relationship between forests and climate change. The camp fostered expertise in environmental research, honed leadership and communication skills through theatrical exercises, provided career advancement opportunities, promoted sustainability, and culminated in the awarding of a Sustainability Ambassador certificate to the participants. 

The Sustainability Ambassadors Camp has not only imparted valuable knowledge and skills to students but also inspired them to actively contribute to the global sustainability movement by initiating 350 conversations related to the climate crisis. The number 350 symbolises the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, a figure derived from scientific research and indicative of a planet conducive to life as we know it.


Be the catalyst for change in your school

We offer enriching workshops, engaging activities in both Dubai and the UK, and on campus professional development sessions for teachers. Join our initiative to empower students, bridge the green skills gap, and champion environmental sustainability.

Want to get involved? Contact Sanam Yaqub, Dubai Campus School Partnerships Strategies Manager


BIFoR Education is a free online learning platform for schools that contains everything you need to bring the Birmingham Institute for Forest Research (BIFoR) to a classroom near you!  An expanding set of engaging, curriculum linked activities have been developed to support pupils in KS3, 4 and 5. Your pupils will join a growing community of citizen scientists who are exploring a wide range of topics linked to the impact of climate change on the structure and function of forest ecosystems.

Resources include:

  • Curriculum linked resources for classroom teachers that can be embedded into KS3, 4 and 5
  • BIFoR in a box - a free STEM kit for schools that contains everything you need to bring BIFoR to life
  • Virtual BIFoR - take a trip to the woodland without leaving your classroom

Visit BIFoR Education 

Group of students stood together smiling for a photo with a lecturer
Lecturer speaking with school students
Students performing a theatre workshop in a classroom
Two men stood in front of mangroves

Self-guided tour of the mangroves



Numerous meetings have taken place with UAE based sustainability experts, urban development firms and government workers around the green skills gap in the region.

Mangrove plants in containers ready to be planted
Salicornia sand young mangrove