August 11, 2023


By 2022 Diana Award recipient, Isha Rajeev Nair from Dubai, UAE

In an ever-changing world, where environmental challenges loom larger than ever before, the responsibility to secure a sustainable future fall upon the shoulders of the next generation—the youth.

In an ever-changing world, where environmental challenges loom larger than ever before, the responsibility to secure a sustainable future fall upon the shoulders of the next generation—the youth. Empowering this generation with green skills is a transformative approach that equips the youth with knowledge, expertise, and a profound sense of environmental consciousness. The youth must understand that the environment impacts their future, and this transition will positively impact them with a plethora of emerging economic opportunities that can create nearly 8.4 million jobs for young people by 2030. In the current situation, more than 60% of young people will lack the necessary skills to thrive in this green economy by 2030.

Green Skills empower young people to tackle environmental issues, redefine traditional industries, and embrace novel green opportunities. From mastering sustainable technologies and renewable energy systems to practising eco-conscious agriculture and promoting circular economies, these skills offer a path towards a future that nurtures both people and the planet. I am constantly inspired by the initiatives that my adopted country UAE has taken to encourage a future where economic prosperity coexists with ecological harmony, where innovation drives conservation, and where the youth lead the way towards a brighter, greener tomorrow.

My journey as a crusader for environment preservation started at the tender age of six during one of my visits to my grandmother’s village in India, I had a first-hand experience of the effects of water scarcity and drought brought on by mindless deforestation and scarce rainfall. My quest for the root cause of the problem led me to understand the causes of climate change and factors affecting the environment. Ever since I have championed two pet initiatives that I identified as key game changers in a quest for a greener future.

Isha’s initiative, One Child to Another Child : Every Book Matters, reached beyond boundaries to kindle the fire of reading for children while giving pre-loved books a new life.

My first initiative is in many ways closely linked to my passion for reading and books. Nearly 4 billion trees worldwide are cut down each year for paper which in turn gets transformed into books and newsprint, most of which ultimately end up in landfills. My initiative “One Child to Another Child - Every Book Matters” aims to collect used books from the community and donate the aggregated books to help set up libraries in economically challenged parts of rural India.  This initiative was a resounding success as I have been able to influence several rural schools, their students, and families about the need to build sustainable libraries using the books that have been mobilised for them. To date, the initiative has supported building 3 libraries, with more in the planning phase.

Through continuous awareness sessions for children of different year groups at my school and community, many children were enlightened on topics ranging from Water conservation, Climate change, Recycling and Sustainability. In all my Eco Clubs we always excite and engage the creative side of the youth using Green STEM technologies and experiments. One such project for recycling wastewater using easily accessible everyday utilities and gadgets, simple to implement green technologies was recognised as the best project at a STEM-based Eco Competition. The award was used to establish a Green Bio Park at my school with the support of my fellow students, which is now a model followed by many schools in the UAE.

As a strong believer in Green Skills for Youth, Isha and her group of eco-activists work tirelessly for a greener future, both on and off the field.

This International Youth Day, with its central theme of Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World is an apt time for us as youth to cultivate a generation of environmentally conscious citizens who can bridge the gap between environmental advocacy and tangible action. A few actions that can be taken to cultivate Green Skills in our youth include:

  • Promote Green Clubs and Eco-initiatives: Establish Green Clubs and eco-initiatives in your schools and communities, providing a platform for youth to collaborate on sustainability projects. These clubs can organise tree-planting drives, recycling campaigns, or workshops on sustainable practices.
  • Green Internships and Volunteering Opportunities: Work with NGOs to participate in green internships or volunteer programs with eco-conscious organisations, government agencies, or green businesses to gain practical experience and exposure.
  • Green Technology and Digital Literacy: Encourage proficiency in green technologies and digital literacy, as they play a significant role in finding innovative solutions to environmental challenges.
  • Engage in Nature-based Learning: Spend time in nature and engage in activities like gardening, wildlife observation, or nature exploration. Connecting with the natural world can instil a deeper appreciation for the environment.

Let us unite in the face of this great adversity and join hands with 416 million children worldwide who are advocating for a more sustainable future. We, the youth of today, must be in possession of green skills to make the right decisions as the changemakers of tomorrow.

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