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Dubai College’s Sustainability Transformation: A Student Environmental Leader’s Perspective

30 / 08 / 2023
By Aarush Vir Kharbanda, Student Environmental Leader at Dubai College

It’s time for schools to take more action


At a time when our world continues to grapple with ‘global grand challenges’ such as global warming and climate change, it is critical schools incorporate sustainability teaching and learning more deeply into the curriculum and daily school life. We must cultivate a generation of global citizens with an increased awareness and passion for solving environmental, social, and economic problems.

Dubai College (DC) is a school striving to make this difference.


Engaging with sustainability experts to audit our environmental impact


At the start of the 2022-2023 academic year, DC partnered with Metanoia to foster the advancement of sustainability in the school and its wider community. Metanoia is a sustainability consultancy which specialises in working with students and schools to help them reduce their environmental footprint. This partnership demonstrates DC’s commitment towards embedding sustainability more deeply into our campus operations and curriculum. The Metanoia team has been working with DC students on a sustainability audit across five key areas of the school: campus, curriculum, community, communication, and culture. The audit involves data collection, surveys, research, and analyses. The outcome of the Whole School Sustainability Audit is over 100 actionable recommendations that DC can act on to improve the environmental impact of our daily operations and embed sustainability more deeply into school life.


Founding Dubai College’s Sustainability Club


Along with the audit, DC launched its ‘Sustainability Club’ at the start of 2023. This was timely and impactful, since 2023 is the ‘Year of Sustainability’ for the UAE, the host nation of COP28. The club aligns with DC’s vision of becoming a sustainable school.  As the Founder and President of DC’s Sustainability Club, my goal is to raise awareness of the importance of sustainability, educating the community about sustainability related challenges and issues that the school and wider community face, and look for potential solutions.

Since the inception of the club earlier this year, our group of 20+ members have passionately engaged in a wide range of sustainability events and projects. We have organised e-waste recycling campaigns, launched a sustainability-focused blog, and hosted the inaugural DC Sustainability Competition, where students developed research projects with the goal of making DC more sustainable.


Sustainability internship with Metanoia


This summer, I was grateful to be working alongside the team of sustainability consultants that are conducting DC’s Whole School Sustainability Audit, by interning at Metanoia. Throughout the course of my internship, I was assigned several different tasks, with each task tailored to a module of the audit. The modules that I worked on were: buildings and grounds (analysing the health hazards of CO2 concentration in DC’s SPACE building); procurement and waste (researching outcomes of various types of waste in Dubai and recycling companies for DC to partner with); communications (finding data on several school’s social media engagement); community engagement (creating a map of organizations near DC); and energy (analysing the solar power potential of DC). The work I completed for each task will be used for DC’s final audit report. Overall, I found the experience both interesting and valuable, and it provided me with first-hand insights into the field of sustainability consulting. Clean Energy (SDG 7) is one of my passions in the domain of sustainability and something that I wish to study further at university, so I thoroughly enjoyed the task of designing and analysing the potential of powering DC using solar energy through the simulation program, Helioscope. Producing and storing clean energy is undoubtedly a crucial part of the transition to net-zero that will have a huge impact in the decarbonization of all industries. Thank you, Metanoia, for providing me with this incredible opportunity – it’s been an enriching learning experience for me!


My net-zero vision for Dubai College


Ultimately, my aspiration is for DC to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 – a difficult, albeit achievable task with guidance from Metanoia and continuous efforts from student leaders passionate to drive change. As a club, we are also thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside Metanoia in the new academic year to continue DC’s sustainability journey. I am excited to be a part of the sustainable future of Dubai College that I have always envisioned!




See Also

Emma graduated with distinction from Rhodes University with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Biochemistry. Since graduating, she has worked in the education sector throughout Asia.

She has experience in Nature-based Solutions for Disaster and Climate Resilience, SDG-Academy. In Emma’s spare time she wrote for an environmental think-tank, covering topics ranging from sustainable diets and lifestyles to biodiversity loss and conservation initiatives. Through her work at Metanoia, Emma is fulfilling a lifelong ambition of working in sustainability for education. She is currently working on applied sustainability audits in schools with the aim of helping them become net-zero institutions.

Her areas of interest include sustainability education, biodiversity loss, sustainable diets, and plastic pollution.

Kiran is an Environment and Sustainability masters graduate from Monash University, Australia. As a former digital marketer, she has experience in project management, campaign execution and brand development for multiple start-up companies.

Through Metanoia, she has applied her knowledge in sustainability communications and stakeholder engagement to drive behaviour change and whole school engagement within schools across Asia. Kiran also brings waste expertise to the team from auditing, reporting and providing innovative and circular solutions. Outside of work, Kiran likes to engage in environmental activism; from working with non-profits to reduce plastic pollution, to advocating for animal rights.

Her passion lies in water sanitation and sustainable agricultural practices.