Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

A Call For A Renewed Focus On Sustainability

As inspired by the winners of the Voices of Future Generations competition 

Today is a good day to save the planet. But then again, every day is a good day to work towards a better, more sustainable and kinder way to live. Nobody has demonstrated that more clearly than the children who entered the Voices of Future Generations competition. 

Hundreds of children aged 8-12 from across the seven Emirates have submitted original stories of heroic adventures, where the protagonist has overcome terrific challenges to create a better world. Most of these children have attended workshops and researched the Sustainable Development Goals. They have read the stories by previous winners of the international competition. They have looked at our world and visualised how it could be better. 

This week we celebrated the first winners of the competition since it was launched in the Middle East with a wonderful award ceremony, with sustainability hero and legendary primatologist Jane Goodall making a surprise video appearance. 

As we open registrations for the second year of the competition, we have a lot to celebrate. Each one of the children who have entered the competition is a voice for change. They are the Voices of Future Generations. To mark the occasion, we wanted to share a few words from HH Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Goodwill Ambassador for the Voices of Future Generations initiative for the Middle East region. 

Speaking about how we can all be a force for change, she said: 
“Selfless good deeds are motivating to see, and so are stories: creating a character from our region in a story helps people from our community relate to the character, and the problems he or she faces. A relatable character encourages others to read more about them, step inside their shoes and understand how they would overcome their problems. Who better to represent our local community than the locals from our region? This is how we can overcome misconceptions and assumptions that only hinder our growth as a society.”
HH Sheikha Hissa is particularly passionate about the Voices of Future Generations initiative because of her love of animals and nature, and her own experiences as a child: 
“Horses were my teachers, and I believe they have shaped me to be a better human. Children who grow up with pets learn simple things that may not be taught to them without experience. First and foremost, they learn to listen; animals can’t speak our language, but we may learn to read their body language and facial expressions to better understand them. They also learn to think of others before themselves: children who are responsible for their pet’s well-being learn how to care for their pet’s basic needs and learn patience along the way. My horses were and still are my teachers, and I can’t imagine how I would have grown up without those few hours a week I spent at the stables.
Being outside in nature and around animals was a positive influence throughout my childhood, and I’m very blessed to have grown up in a household that appreciates nature and wildlife. One of my favorite memories during my childhood was having breakfast before school with my family, while watching wildlife documentaries before we went to school. Later on, during the day we sat down and talked about different types of birds, mammals or fish that live in the Arabian region or around the world.
I learnt about the wildlife in our region from the few moments every day I spent with my family, whether indoors or at the farm, and that helped me understand my heritage as well: I learnt about the different type of gazelles, birds and fish in our region, and how they are named both in Arabic and English and even why they are named that way. I never thought that animals would end up being endangered, or our Earth would go through climate changes like global warming. It does make me sad that some other child might not experience what was a big part of my growing up. That’s why I feel so strongly about animals and saving their homes.”

We couldn’t agree more.

If you're inspired to take part in next year's Voices of Future Generations competition, enter here. If you're still searching for inspiration, watch our interview with Jane Goodall herself, below!

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