Can environmental awareness campaigns sponsored by major corporate polluters still get the right message across? [image via: alyssakai]
Eighty-eight students from 20 different governmental and private schools in Abu Dhabi were honored as winners of the country’s ninth Annual Environmental Competition last week. The competition, which was organized by the Abu Dhabi Education Council and the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD), aims to increase environmental awareness among Abu Dhabi’s youth.
What is the real message, however, when the competition is consistently sponsored by Shell Abu Dhabi – a company involved in every stage of the petroleum value chain?
Fozeya Al Mahmoud, the Manager of the EAD’s Environmental Education Department, emphasized that the competition was focused on climate change this year in accordance with this year’s World Environment Day theme (“uniting to combat climate change”). How ironic, then, that the competition was sponsored by Shell – a company that depletes natural resources and leads to an enormous amount of carbon emissions, thereby contributing greatly to climate change.
This is greenwashing at its worst.
“Over the years, we have received positive feedback about this competition from teachers, students and their parents. They have found it to be very informative. We chose to focus on climate change because our Annual Environmental Awareness and Behaviour Survey 2009 revealed that there was a disconnect between awareness and behavior,” Al Mahmoud said.
Despite its mixed messages, the competition was able to inspire a large number of students. Approximately 858 students from around Abu Dhabi submitted drawings, paintings, participated in recycling relay races, performed skits, and did public speaking exercises.
Read more about education and the environment:
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Haifa University Reduced Electricity Consumption by 22% in 2008-09