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University’s COP28 sustainability challenge backed by industry giants, Google, EGA and WWF


COP28 competition panel

Vertical farming and sustainable fashion were two initiatives due to be showcased at COP28 thanks to a sustainability challenge organised by the University of Bradford.

The competition won backing from Google, Emirates Global Aluminium and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Over 100 schoolchildren from 20 schools in the United Arab Emirates, entered the competition which challenged them to design a solution to 10 grand challenges which were co-created and identified during the International Masters Summer School (IMSS) earlier in the Summer.

Vertical gardens

Activities during the week-long IMSS such as keynote talks from international experts on Sustainability and Circular Economy, round-table expert discussions, group work, problem-solving challenges and experiential learning led to the extrapolation of 10 Grand Sustainability Challenges which the UAE schoolchildren were tasked to tackle.

The University of Bradford gained official observer status in 2021.

Professor Vishanth Weerakkody said: “The University of Bradford has been at the forefront of promoting sustainability and circular economy for several decades, particularly through our award-winning business school.

“As a pioneering advocate of sustainability and circular economy, we were the first university to launch an MBA in circular economy and recognise the necessity of adapting our approach to reflect the ever-changing global challenges we face around climate change, carbon footprint, food security, health and well-being.”

COP28 competition panel

Dr Kamran Mahroof (pictured above, far left), who formed part of the judging panel, said: “It is important we not only involve the future generations into the conversation but allow them to also lead discussions on the issues concerning sustainability, they are the future change makers and providing them with the platform to express themselves is most certainly an integral part of achieving the ambitious sustainability goals of the future.”   

The University of Bradford Sustainability Competition has challenged teams to research, formulate and propose innovative solutions to deal with a selected sustainability challenge over a six-week period from mid-October to the end of November. 

During this period, academic experts from the University of Bradford have offered advice and mentorship. The competition grand finale took place on December 5 and 6, where the school teams were invited to present their solutions to an international expert panel of practitioner and academic experts.

The best groups offered innovative approaches to driving sustainable fashion (GEMS Metropole School), reducing light pollution (Our Own English High School, Sharjah (Girls) tacking food security through urban vertical farming (Our Own English High School Sharjah (Boys) and promoting strategies for daily water conservation (Dwight School), and will be invited to showcase their winning solutions and ideas at COP28 later this week.

COP28 competition panel

The best groups were determined by the international judging panel consisting of experts from UNDP, Green Climate Fund, WWF, Emirates Global Aluminium, Google, and Sam Precious Metals.

Professor Vishanth Weerakkody and Dr Kamran Mahroof will continue to engage and participate in further COP28 activities during the week and lead a panel discussion within the Green Zone on Friday afternoon on the theme of Youth, Children, Education, and Skills