COP28 Initiatives at Aspen Heights British School Abu Dhabi

Aspen Heights British School has undertaken a series of initiatives to mark the occasion of COP28 being hosted in Dubai this year. Over the past 18 months, our ‘Countdown to COP28’ ECA has generated excitement and pride within our community. Since the launch of the event, families, staff, and children have been eagerly visiting COP28 during the weekends, and have been sharing their experiences through video diaries.

As COP28 and UAE National Day celebrations coincided this year, our students celebrated both by collaborating on an art installation with a sustainability theme, titled ‘Nahr Al Amal’ (River of Hope). Using recycled fabric donated by prominent hotels, our students created a vibrant ‘River of Hope,’ delivering a message to the world leaders at COP28 UAE.  This installation was the centrepiece for our National Day celebrations. 

In preparation for COP28, we also implemented a new Sustainability curriculum, aligning with our school vision and the IB learner profile. This curriculum aims to cultivate global citizenship by encouraging students to inquire and gain knowledge about environmental issues in an open-minded and caring manner. The curriculum has been taught through inquiry questions, hands-on learning, and age-appropriate practices, fostering cross-curricular connections. Additionally, our participation in the ISP ‘Changemakers’ program involves collaborative initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint and potentially secure funding for a special project.

Talking about their project for this year, the Changemakers team were unanimous in their excitement. Nuha Year 5 said “We are working hard to find different ways to improve energy conservation in school this year. We are surveying the whole school and it is so much fun to discuss ideas for improvement. Our goal is to bring Aspen Heights closer to being a zero waste school.”

To raise awareness for COP 28 objectives among students, our secondary pupils participated in a ‘Ted-talk’ style competition addressing UN Sustainability Goals. Speeches were delivered in English and Arabic, and the top students received special recognition and certificates. Our student speakers emphasized the need for renewable energy to combat environmental challenges. They also gave very practical steps to improve access to clean energy and efficient facilities, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels for our everyday needs.

Additionally, Aspen Heights collaborated with ‘Tadweer’ to launch an innovative smart technology recycling initiative, ‘Yalla Return’. This initiative empowers our community to manage waste effectively, providing recycling kits with smart technology to track the lifecycle of recycled materials.

Our teachers tailored different aspects of their teaching and learning to reflect sustainability, with a Sustainability Board displayed in each classroom.

Elizabeth Barry Cutter, our Deputy Head of Primary and ILOS coordinator talked about some of the initiatives that truly stand out for her, she said: “We have ensured that we are giving all our students opportunities to build on our school sustainability interests.  Our recycling initiative has been very successful with lots of families signing up to be involved! Our sustainability themed trip to the Fairmont Bab al Bahr was very successful and our students were able to look at how big organisations can be more eco conscious in their operations. We loved the ideas from the student council about how we could manage food waste and grow some of our own food in school. Our ISP ChangeMakers have implemented light monitors, tracked our energy consumption and started the redevelopment of the sensory garden this year. I am so proud of all our students involved in this project.”

Last year, we proudly received the Bronze Green Flag award by Eco Schools Organization UK, and this year, our Eco Council is actively working towards the Silver award. Talking about the school-wide efforts, our Principal Mrs Shanahan said “I am so proud of the breadth of sustainability initiatives we have been able to give our entire school community; I feel sure these will have a real impact on the future decision making for all of us!”

Through our diverse initiatives, we hope we have inspired our entire community to become responsible global citizens and contribute meaningfully to the collective efforts addressing the challenges highlighted by COP28. Together, as a united community, we look forward to making a positive impact and embracing a sustainable future.