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25 September 2017Last updated
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The altruistic journey: Let’s be sustainable

In her final column for Friday, Shaikha Shamma Bint Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan encourages us to care for the environment

<i>Friday</i>
23 Jun 2017 | 09:00 am
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I hope you have all managed to find a volunteering opportunity that excites you and have started the second phase of your altruistic journey. I would highly recommend that you record your feelings and experiences in a journal, as this will be a good exercise for you to really become more aware of your inner self. Make sure that you are part of something that brings you joy and fulfilment.

Sustainability is a topic of great importance to me, I am currently studying and conducting research in this field - you might have noticed that I have alluded to sustainability topics in my previous articles. Therefore, I decided to dedicate this column to the environment.

We often forget about the beauty of the nature that surrounds us and especially the impact we have on it through our purchasing choices and the ways in which we conduct ourselves on a daily basis. So, I hope this piece will inspire you and help you reconnect with the environment, rekindling the empathic nature that lies within us all.

The world in which we live is highly complex and everything is interconnected, so even a small change, for example making sure your lights are always switched off when you leave a space that no one is in, or, if you are a Muslim, reducing the amount of water that you use for ablution, can make a significant difference. Just those simple changes in behaviour would have a great positive impact on the environment.

For many of us, our minds work in such a way that we need to see an instant reaction in order for us to take decisive action, but let’s look at the question of climate change. Data shows that the damage to the planet is real, but it’s creeping up on us very slowly. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take action to stop it – far from it. You should never think that your contribution towards the environment is insignificant; your small contribution can inspire others within your community, creating a more significant effect… the multiplier effect. I am very proud that the UAE has signed the Paris Climate Change agreement to limit global warming by 2 degrees Celsius. This agreement was made effective only a month after agreeing to it, which shows the urgency of the matter.

The UAE is fortunate to have beautiful flora and fauna. Did you know that the UAE has a great breeding programme for hawksbill turtles? We also have the second largest population of dugongs, gentle marine animals that are also known as sea cows. Our coral reefs are amongst the most resilient when it comes to adapting to extreme temperature changes. All of these creatures have an important role to play in the world around us.

One cannot talk about the environment without mentioning the number of pets that are abandoned around this time of year in the UAE. These animals did not ask for such cruel mistreatment, but it is heartening to see that there are many organisations and individuals within our community who dedicate themselves to helping our dogs and cats. If you are an animal lover, this might be a cause you might choose to get involved in.

Unfortunately, in the hustle and bustle of the modern world, we all too often get caught up in our busy routines and forget to connect with nature. This is sad, because we are missing out on so much that could bring beauty and peace to our hectic lives.

So, why not find a quiet spot, put aside all the technological distractions, such as your mobile phone, and sit for a few moments surrounded by nature? There are lots of places you can do this, such as at the beach or in your own garden or in a public park. Enjoy the feeling of tranquillity and take the opportunity for reflection. Notice the sounds, smells and sensations of being outdoors, immersed in the beauty of nature. Try and make this experience a regular part of your lifestyle and see what a difference it makes.

There is no ending to this altruistic journey. So, remember to be kind to yourself and, when you get caught up in your busy life, don’t forget that you have the necessary tools to continue along the path and experience the positive effects of giving. You are an agent of change and have the ability to make a difference not only to your own life but also to the lives of others.

Wishing you and your families Eid Mubarak!

For further information on how you can help in environmental conservation and animal welfare, contact the Emirates Wildlife Society WWF and Emirates Environmental Group.

<i>Friday</i>

Friday

Shaikha Shamma Bint Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan