September 25 2022 11:26 AM E-paper Subscribe Sign in My Account Sign out

Building future leaders for climate change

Khalid Dalal
Khalid Dalal is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, a former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for business development at Al-Ghad and Jordan News.(File photo: Jordan News)
If there is one thing I learned during my advanced strategic communication studies at the New York-based Columbia University, it is that to address a threat, the first step is to acknowledge it, followed by sound planning to address it using scientific, and more importantly, realistic and practical approaches.اضافة اعلان

Part of such a response includes knowing how and when to hand over the torch to a new generation to continue the fight until the threat is history.

This reflection was triggered by Columbia University's recent announcement of the graduation of the first batch of its Climate Change School earlier this month — a group of 92 students from the MA in Climate and Society Program.

Involving youth in the response to the serious threat of climate change is a feasible approach that complements other solutions resorted to internationally. To tackle a danger that has been pushing us all to one corner, indiscriminately posing a shared challenge, we are left with one choice: either to swim or sink.

We all — "all" here meaning countries, the rich and the poor, this generation and generations to come — should realize that the effects of climate change will be striking blindly, and if not curbed, life on this planet will never be the same. That is given if life can be sustained at all under the expected horrible scenarios.

The alarm has already been sounded. According to the UN, "time is slipping away from us," and the world must act promptly to avoid catastrophes that are inevitable otherwise. "Recent floods, droughts, wildfires, and heat waves have made it harder to deny the existence of climate change outright," said UN-level climate change experts.

This puts us face to face with "climate disinformation," which is a challenge that we cannot underestimate. Many skeptics aim to abort or delay global action, especially the ongoing efforts to decarbonize the global economy, so we must fight disinformation with substantiated information and change-oriented education. This means we need to include scientifically proven facts in curricula at all levels of education and engage the media as effectively as possible in every country and community joining the fight.
Involving youth in the response to the serious threat of climate change is a feasible approach that complements other solutions resorted to internationally.
Going back to my initial reflection, I found that one solution regarding education was to establish specialized schools like Columbia's Climate Change School and open the door wide for scholarships that lure excelling students from all around the world to join these programs and later, as experts, the fight against the phenomenon and the proponents' propaganda. At a minimum, a Climate Change 101 course should be introduced as a mandatory university-level -course everywhere.

On another note, the rich must help the poor. One example is the UAE, which hosts the International Renewable Energy Agency's headquarters and is evolving into an influential global leader and partner in fighting climate change.

The UAE has extended over $1 billion of aid to help other countries, especially those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and lack the means to execute renewable energy-powered plants. Around 70 countries worldwide have received a helping hand from the enlightened Arab country. From what I could infer, the main drive for the UAE is that, in the words of its Climate Change Special Envoy's Office, the "UAE's domestic and foreign policy recognizes climate change as a defining threat to humanity and the planet, but also views climate action as an unprecedented opportunity for economic growth and job creation".

This is what I call positive thinking, another thing I learned during my days at Columbia.


The writer is a former advisor at the Royal Hashemite Court, a former director of media and communication at the Office of His Majesty King Abdullah, and works currently as a senior advisor for business development at Al-Ghad and Jordan News.


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