Dubai: A 'green' book club started by youngsters is uniting climate enthusiasts for change

Meeting bi-monthly and welcoming all at no cost, the Book Club Majlis places a strong emphasis on building a close-knit community

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By Aanya Mitra

Published: Tue 29 Aug 2023, 6:26 PM

A recent gathering brought together passionate environmentalists at The Sum of Us Cafe on Sheikh Zayed Road for a climate-focused book club called Green Reads.

“I truly believe that books can transform lives,” said Oumayma Daouadi, a French-Algerian climate consultant and founder of The Book Club Majlis, which jointly organised the initiative with The Dubai Climate Collective (DCC), a network of conscientious change-makers and local climate leaders dedicated to creating a sustainable cultural shift within the UAE.

The session featured a range of books, each offering unique perspectives on the climate crisis. Participants engaged in discussions about ‘The Playbook’ by behavioural scientist Jenifer Jacquet, which reveals how corporate industries prioritise profit over truth. Conversely, ‘Net Positive’ by former Unilever CEO Paul Polman explores the potential of these very industries, suggesting that business leaders possess the capability to address humanity's most pressing issues.

Meanwhile, Kristin Ohlson's 'The Soil Will Save Us' emphasised the critical role of healthy soil in reducing carbon emissions. The group also delved into ‘Climate Worrier: A Hypocrite’s Guide to Saving the Planet’ by stand-up comedian Colm O’Regan, which prompted a reflection on how individuals can find balance between eco-conscious living and acknowledging their role in environmental challenges.

The conversation took an introspective turn as members recognised the importance of personal growth in the quest to save the planet. "You cannot care for the planet if you cannot care for its people," asserted Indian expat Gunjan Nanda, co-founder of the Dubai Climate Collective.

As the UAE prepares to host COP28, the conversation naturally turned towards the country's environmental approach. Members emphasised the importance of optimism regarding the country and its sustainability initiatives. They also noted the remarkable technological advancements the UAE has witnessed in just the last decade.

The book club attracted participants from diverse backgrounds, each offering unique perspectives influenced by their work and lifestyles in Dubai. Attendees included climate ambassadors who led climate education programmes for Expo City, consultants committed to reducing corporate carbon footprints, environmental engineers specialising in soil quality, and even fashion enthusiasts who repurposed luxury handbags. Throughout the two-hour discussion, all participants unanimously agreed that engaging in conversations about climate matters is profoundly significant, representing a crucial step towards addressing the climate crisis.

In a related development, DCC has achieved a significant milestone. The climate collective, dedicated to fostering positive change, has secured a prime pavilion spot in COP28's Blue Zone. This coveted space, overseen by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will host vital negotiations, panels, speeches, and cultural events throughout the conference, running at the Expo City, Dubai from November 30 until December 12.

Aligned with their mission and in collaboration with ECCA (Entertainment and Culture for Climate Action) and Climate Generation, like-minded organisations dedicated to enhancing climate literacy, the DCC will name their pavilion as 'The Entertainment and Culture Pavilion.'


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