Sustainability is a way of life at GLS. With all our staff having become Climate Change Teachers and having embedded climate literacy in the curriculum since September 2019, we took the next steps to motivating our students and parents to take small actionable steps to combat climate change. Our students embarked on the sustainable diet action research project after completing the UN CC:Learn course on Sustainable Diet. With the purpose of building communities of sustainability, both local and global, this project was extended to 15 schools from 9 countries including Oman, UAE, India, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Uganda, Kenya, USA and Australia, who will also undertake the course and then work with their students to practice a sustainable diet by monitoring the carbon footprint of what they consume.
Please click here to read the article published in the UN CC:Learn website.
Please click here to read the article in Khaleej Times.
Sustainability - a way of Life at GLS
Sustainability has always been and continues to be at the heart of GLS. We believe in our social responsibility to the environment in which we exist. The school has taken strong and effective steps to ensure sustainable practices on the school campus, in the local community and the wider global community. These include the Plant A Legacy( PAL) campaign, e-waste collection drive, recycling plastic bottles campaign, no-plastic campaign, beach clean-ups, waste segregation and composting, among others.
As the school moves on to become the first ever school to have all its teachers accredited by the UNCC as climate change teachers, sustainability now becomes a way of life and a strong green culture at GLS. To read more about our sustainability practices, navigate to Sustainability Initiatives at GLS.
Sustainability has always been at the core at GLS. With climate action becoming a more urgent need, the school has committed to ensuring that every student across the school lives climate action through climate literacy.
Climate Change is real and needs action now. In this rapidly changing world, it is important that the future citizens understand the importance of sustainable development for the world to become a better place.
Our principal Ms. Asha Alexander, came across The UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC: Learn) that offers teachers a wide selection of e-courses on climate change. The courses help to deliver lessons on climate change and is designed to cater to all age groups and disciplines. After completing the course, and becoming a champion for climate change, she encouraged her staff to pursue the course.
Along with the 300+ teaching staff and senior leaders, several parents and students completed the courses to become the first school in the world to have a UNCC accredited Climate Change teacher in every classroom. Our Arabic teachers are the world’s first to qualify under the program, as well. This made us the “world’s first” fully climate change certified school. The students of the school are now been taught by 300 Climate Change certified Teachers, thereby embedding climate literacy in everyday lessons.
“Climate change is not only an environmental problem, but a problem of the future, and schools have a crucial role in addressing climate change.”
During the summer of 2019, Mrs. Asha Alexander, Principal of GEMS Legacy School was the first Principal in the UAE to become a UNCC certified Climate Change Leader.
Following her footsteps, all the teachers, teaching assistants, and administrative staff along with some parents at the school became UN CC: Learn Accredited Teachers in collaboration with EduCCate Global making it the only school in the world to have its Principal and all its teachers accredited by the UN as Climate Change Teachers. The aim of this was to ensure that as responsible global citizens, our students are climate literate.
As the first step to adapt Climate Literacy into the school, the school curriculum was revised connecting climate change with sustainable practices to local culture, communities, and global issues to raise the students’ awareness about - ‘How we impact the climate and how climate impacts us!’
Climate stories are a part and parcel of classroom learning at GLS, promoting critical thinking, problem-solving, and empathy. Students are encouraged to share their climate stories, uniting their voices to safeguard Earth’s climate with climate literacy embedded in all subjects they learn at school.
Climate Change Conference
GEMS Legacy School became the first school in the world to have a UN certified Climate Change teacher in every one of its 162 classrooms. The certificate had to manifest in climate action as the school mapped its curriculum objectives with climate literacy enabling every student from the Early Years to Grade 5 to access the Climate Literacy embedded Curriculum. The immersion in climate literacy gave students the opportunity to internalize the urgency and need to exercise climate actions.
After earning its title as the world's first UN climate change-certified school, GLS inspired 46 other schools from the Hammersmith and Fulham Sovereign Borough Council in the UK to follow suit. On 11th November, 2019, a team of Headteachers and Delegates from the Hammersmith and Fulham Sovereign Borough Council in UK accompanied by Melanie Harwood and the Guardian Visual Features Team visited Dubai to carry the Climate Action template of GEMS Legacy School back to UK and the world. After their learning walk, they expressed their amazement at witnessing the visible climate thinking of students in the early years and across the school.
This was followed by the Climate Conference held on 12th November, 2019, attended by a wide range of high profile guests –
Dr. Abdulla Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)
Mr. Dino Varkey, CEO GEMS Education
Sir Christopher Stone (Global CEO, GEMS Education)
Melanie Harwood, Co-Founder Harwood Education
Richard Sprenger from the Guardian, Visual Feature
Jan Parnell, Assistant Director of Education, Hammersmith and Fullham
Taranum Baig- Headteacher, Hammersmith and Fullham
Sally Brooks, Headteacher, Fullham College Boys’ School
The guests were accompanied by Emirati dignitaries, the senior leadership members from GEMS Education and the senior leadership team from DULSCO.
At this one of a kind conference, 202 children, trained by Kevin Oliver sang the powerful Earth Song by Michael Jackson, which was mesmerizing. The highlight of the event was a little miracle from the GLS, our very own six year old ‘Every Child’ who moved not only everyone in the room but created a tidal wave that inspired students around the world. The conference concluded with a press conference at the close of proceedings.
The Climate Conference hosted by GEMS Legacy School brought the idea of introducing climate literacy to all schools in the UAE with the Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dr. Abdulla Al Karam expressing his desire that this needed to spread throughout the region. The GEMS CEO Dino Varkey had already given Asha Alexander, the Principal the mandate to embed climate literacy in all of the GEMS schools in the UAE and across the world.
With sustainability as a key theme of EXPO 2020, as educators we have a huge responsibility in embedding sustainability as a way of life in our children. The conference leveraged concerted collective effort to transform the world we live in.
COP 25, Madrid, Spain
The Principal of The GEMS Legacy School - Mrs. Asha Alexander was invited by Educcate Global in partnership with UNITAR, to proudly represent the GEMS Education Group as well as the UAE at the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP25), held in Madrid, Spain, from the 2nd - 13th of December 2019, alongside Melanie Harwood Founder of eduCCate Global and Angus Mackay of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
The GEMS Legacy School under the able stewardship of Mrs. Alexander is proud to be the first UN accredited climate change school in the world, with an integrated climate literacy embedded curriculum. Mrs. Alexander presented this transformative teaching template at COP25 in an endeavour to inspire educationists all over the world to embed climate education in their school lessons as well as practices.
Children have become the vanguard in the fight against climate change and the only way forward is to empower them through education.
Click on the links to view the press conferences by Mrs. Alexander at COP 25:
Plant A Legacy – PAL
Research indicates that planting trees has a mind-blowing potential in controlling the effects of climate change. Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.
As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting program could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities. Considering this, GLS has taken up the PAL initiative, which stands for Plant a Legacy. GLS has committed to plant 15000 trees each year together with its student, parent and local community.
The PAL initiative has become a world-wide campaign today and continues to be a success story with people from all over the world joining hands to ‘Plant a Legacy’ and thereby contributing to climate action, the 13th Sustainable Development Goal ( SDG), which continues to be the need of the hour.
PAL - Monday for Mother Nature
In the new global campaign called "Monday for Mother Nature" initiated by Licypriya Kanjugam, a child climate activist from India, students of schools around the world and their families continue to plant trees at their homes or anywhere else every Monday. This is an ongoing mission which will help us continue the legacy of saving our dying planet from human destruction.
Further to Licypriya’s letter of gratitude and announcing GEMS Legacy School as ‘The Champion of the Planet’, we took a step ahead for planting a sapling every Monday!
Students of GEMS Legacy School and the twinning schools in Malawi, India, Bangladesh, Australia, Jeddah have whole-heartedly joined this campaign. They come forward every week and support by planting a tree every Monday with the message "Monday for Mother Nature" and hashtag #MondayForMotherNature and #ClimateAction to spread the word around.
Such a campaign by the youngsters will hopefully deliver a powerful message to every human on Earth and will convince them to change their ways for a better, greener and a sustainable tomorrow.
We started #PAL Monday for Mother Nature on 25th October, 2020. We have planted 134 saplings till date, 18th January, 2021 and we sincerely hope that these little acts of mindfulness will make a positive difference to our planet.
Monday for Mother Nature lives on …
Waste Management and Composting
In 2019, having taken up the issue of climate change by the horns, GLS collaborated with DULSCO (EXPO 2020’s official waste management partner) to set up composting stations around the school.
To benefit from these, the school made it mandatory to segregate wet and dry waste. The students not only segregated wet waste, but transformed the wet waste into compost with the help of the compost machines and used the compost to green the school. Our students internalized the value of recycling wet waste as manure for the GLS organic garden.
Through composting, we are reducing the amount of waste destined for landfills. One person’s trash is another’s black gold.
Organic Vegetable Gardening
The grass can be greener on any side of the fence, if only we realize the need to leave behind a healthier planet and better breathable air. If only we realize the importance of a more sustainable future for the next generations. If only we are able to instill in our children, the need for an urgent action to protect our climate and our environment.
At GLS, we believe in nurturing young minds by letting them explore their own learning and create memories. The best way to bring about this realization is to introduce our students to the wonderful benefits of having their own bit of green space, to have them feel the joy of planting seeds, nurturing them and watching them grow. In short, to have them experience firsthand how life goes on, for every living being! The organic vegetable garden at our campus is our way to enrich our students’ learning by enabling them to practice sustainability.
The organic vegetable garden provides perfect opportunity to help our students experience learning in unimaginable ways. Growing what we eat and eating what we grow, giving the plants the nutrients through the compost being generated within the school campus, is making every GLS student a Green Monitor!
Climate Diaries Project
The world around us is in peril not only because of a global pandemic but also because somewhere over the years, humankind has forgotten how to care for the planet which is the reason for their sustenance. As years pass, the world is closing in on itself and the planet is fighting back for its own survival. Increase in global temperatures, floods, tsunamis and earthquakes are just some of the ways in which the planet is reclaiming itself from the cruel acts of humans.
A message that we need to spread globally is for us to stop inflicting the planet with more than it can take and instead nurture it. At GLS, we propose that we take the first step towards this with the help of the future generations.
As a part of ‘The Climate Diaries Project’ we collaborated with young minds across schools in the UAE, India, Australia and the UK to create and publish a compilation of climate stories written by children for children around the world. The Climate Diaries unfold student reflections, illustrations and thoughts on the importance of climate literacy and climate actions as we strive to achieve the goal of a sustainable future.
SCOPE – School Conference of Parties Expo
“The climate crisis is quintessentially a child right crisis threatening to roll back progress on child rights without sufficient urgent investment in solutions that benefit the most vulnerable children” as pointed out by UNICEF on 6th December 2019, at the UN Climate Change Conference COP25, Madrid, Spain.
Around 503 million children now live in areas at extremely high risk of floods due to extreme weather events such as cyclones, hurricanes and storms, as well as rising sea levels.
Young people all over the world have begun to voice out their concerns about the world that they are about to inherit. An army of Greta Thunbergs has now risen to combat and act towards building a sustainable tomorrow. Young people far and wide are now standing up and speaking out in support of climate action.
Having represented GEMS and the UAE at COP 25 in Madrid, Mrs. Asha Alexander, Principal, GEMS Legacy School initiated a first-of-its-kind conference for students, SCOPE 2020. The virtual event held on 24th-25th October, 2020 saw participation of young students from about 50 schools across the world. The event empowered the students with high levels of climate change awareness, deep climate change research and collaborative global problem-solving skills. Visit our SCOPE website to get details on how the students engaged through various events as SCOPE provided them a platform for expressing their voice for climate action.
Stay tuned for further updates as we plan SCOPE 2021!
Sustainable Diet Actioned
We at GLS strongly believe that our food choices can make a difference to people and the environment by improving our own health, the health of others, and the health of the planet. Being cognizant of this fact, the students, staff and the parents were encouraged to complete a sustainable diet course by UNCC. As on today more than 1000 students, 100 parents and all our 300 teachers have completed the course,
Subsequent to completing the course, our teachers used varied thinking strategies to discuss, brainstorm, ideate and arrive at actionable steps that each one will take to make small changes in their daily diet to make it healthier and more sustainable for themselves and the planet.
As a learning community we started reflecting on the question-
What might be the impact of our healthy and sustainable food choices for our own well-being and that of our planet?
We propose to measure the impact the Sustainable Diet course and the related student interactions have had on actual changes in diet patterns in students in January, 2021. The impact will be collated through parent, student and staff surveys, questionnaires, interviews and other appropriate research tools. The impact will also be quantified in terms of reduction in our carbon footprints by using a Carbon Footprint Calculator.
With the purpose of building communities of sustainability, both local and global, this project was extended to 15 schools from 9 countries including Oman, UAE, India, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Uganda, Kenya, USA and Australia, who will also undertake the course and then work with their students to practice a sustainable diet by monitoring the carbon footprint of what they consume.
“Our goal is to systematically implement education for sustainability through the development of evaluation. Our vision is to have moved the needle to lower carbon footprint across the world by encouraging schools and their local communities to adopt a sustainable diet. I have learned that small but consistent steps are a great way to get started. Our children will take ownership of their own learning. All we need is to point them in the right direction.” Said Mrs. Alexander, Principal at GEMS Legacy School and Executive Leader Climate Change- GEMS Education.
We are constantly looking at opportunities to help our students, staff and parents realize that over dependence on selected foods, a lack of diversity in our diets and the continued consumption of unsustainably produced items have a harmful impact on nature. We look forward to a more sustainable diet not only at GLS and other GEMS Schools, but in the UAE and the world at large.
Please click on the link below to read the related article published in the UN CC:Learn website:
Please click on the link below to read the related article in Khaleej Times: