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UAE Minister of Environment urges school students to major in environmental sciences programs
His Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, urged students to major in environmental science programs due to the urgent need of qualified human resources in the field. He stated this during his keynote address at the opening of the American University of Sharjah (AUS) Environmental Day 2013, which was held at the AUS main auditorium today, April 25.
In his address, the minister also called upon the country’s educational institutions to develop educational programs to meet the requirements of the eco-friendly economy adopted by the country’s leadership.
"I call upon graduating students to utilize what they have learned from studying the sciences, and to use the skills acquired to help boost the UAE’s progress and development in this field," he said. "In an effort to attract qualified human resources, I assure you that the Ministry of Environment and Water welcomes all talented graduates, who are our future and hope, to join us in this journey," he added.
Dr. Bin Fahad also spoke about the environmental challenges faced by the country. “During the past four decades, the increase in population has soared, and unprecedented economic growth accompanied by a rise in income levels has resulted in a distinctive change in the patterns of production and consumption,” he said. The minister said that these factors have placed enormous pressure on the environmental resources, which have resulted in an increase in the rate of ecological footprint per capita in the country. However, he said the government has taken important steps to counter these challenges.
“In an important step, the UAE announced the adoption of a new economy approach in 2011, where His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, announced the Emirates Strategy for Green Development with the slogan ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Development,’” he explained.
Senior AUS officials, including Dr. Thomas Hochstettler, Interim Chancellor and Provost; Dr. Mark Rush, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Fawwaz Jumean, Head of the Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences; and Dr. Fatin Samara, Chair of the Environmental Day Committee; also spoke on the occasion, welcoming the delegates to thanking them for their participation.
The event, held with the theme of “Environmental Sustainability: 10 Years of Environmental Science Graduates at AUS,” focused on the environmental sciences program and environmental awareness activities at AUS and introduced students to high-impact careers in the environmental sector. Two engaging presentations followed the keynote address. These included one by Richard Barwell, Business Development Manager at Metito Overseas Ltd., who spoke on advanced wastewater reuse. This was followed by a lecture on the AUS Environmental Sciences program by Dr. Hassan Tayim, former Professor and Chair of the Environmental Sciences Program Committee at AUS.
Organized by the AUS Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences, this year also marks 10 years since the first student at AUS graduated with an environmental sciences degree. AUS offers a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences degree program. Students can select to pursue a concentration in environmental biology and ecosystems, a concentration in environmental chemistry and analysis, or a double concentration in both areas.
In order to raise awareness of environmental issues, AUS students enrolled in Spring 2013 were asked to create posters individually or as groups for the event. Posters were themed “Environmental Sustainability” and were based on topics including biodiversity, energy and climate, water and ecosystems, pollution, global climate change and social development. The day’s activities also included a forum for environmental science students and alumni. Students from more than 20 high schools in the UAE attended the event, which also included an environmental quiz competition in the afternoon.
Numerous participating organizations set up booths in the AUS Main Rotunda. These included Petrofac, Sajaa Gas, Metito, Papers worldwide, Emirates Wildlife Society-Worldwildlife Fund, Emirates Environmental Group, Environment and Protected Areas Authority, and Bee’ah.
“As educators, it is our duty to spread awareness concerning the environment,” said Dr. Samara. “Environmental Day 2013 is a great opportunity to bring high school and university students together with educators and the industrial and government sectors to spread knowledge and ideas on sustainability, environmental science and environmental awareness,” she added.
“This event really helped me understand and become aware of the many environmental challenges we face,” said a visiting student. “For me, the quiz competition, the forum, and the stalls featuring different aspects of the environment, especially the wildlife, made the Environment Day informative as well as a lot of fun.”