Dubai students bag top honours at global climate competition with innovative solutions

Winners were awarded at COP28, and had been selected from more than 600 ideas shared by students and teachers from 43 countries

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Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Wed 6 Dec 2023, 11:13 AM

Last updated: Wed 6 Dec 2023, 3:07 PM

A team of female students from Dubai’s GEMS Our Own English High School bagged top honours at the Burjeel Holdings-Oxford Said Climate Change Challenge with their innovative solution to addressing air pollution.

During the award ceremony held at COP28, Acquifier Guardians from Ryan International School, New Delhi, won first place, followed by Entofarm, a group of Korean boys, and ECO2 from Dubai stood third.

Winners were selected from more than 600 ideas shared by students and teachers from 43 countries in a global challenge, which was launched by Said Business School of the University of Oxford and UAE’s healthcare group Burjeel Holdings. It was supported by organisations like Oxford University Press and the Eden Project.

Acquifier Guardians, an all-female team comprising Aniba, Anika, Jasreen, Naina, and Sonali from Ryan International School in New Delhi, India, took home the first prize. Their winning idea addressed water scarcity by presenting an effective drip irrigation solution.

“Drip irrigation helps farmers save water, but timing is crucial. Our motivation is to raise awareness and propose innovative strategies, such as the Bio-floc Arduino technology developed by the Atal Tinkering lab at our school, to combat water scarcity and climate change effects,” the victorious team from Ryan International School, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, said. “Winning this global competition inspires us to persist in our efforts towards a sustainable future.”

The Entofarm team, the runner-up, consisted of Junhyeok, Gregor, Aiden, Dowon, and Jihan, who are living in different cities in South Korea, Indonesia and the US. Their idea focuses on revolutionising farming to combat diseases carried by insects.

The ECO2 team, with members Gayathri, Trisha, Unnimaya, Elvina, and Nischala, came third with their innovative approach to tackling air pollution. They proposed converting CO2 and ammonia directly into fertilizers, promoting sustainable, affordable, and effective access to fertilizers worldwide.

“Our product BioGrow aims to transform lives and ensure clean air. We address these challenges by converting CO2 and ammonia directly into fertilizers and promoting sustainable, affordable, and effective access to fertilizers worldwide. We’ve harnessed the power of cutting-edge technologies like Direct Air Capture (DAC) and zeolite-based Ammonia Capture to create a one-of-a-kind solution for urea production. This unique combination not only reduces carbon emissions and environmental impact but paves the way for sustainable agriculture with our slow-release technology,” said team ECO2.

In the teacher's category, Lucas Olscamp from Pearson School UWC, Vancouver Island, Canada, was declared the winner. His lesson plan focused on embedding Indigenous beliefs in teaching. Laxmidevi Upadhyay from Udayachal High School in Mumbai, India, with a lesson plan centered on waste management, came second. Michael Jones, from Northfleet Technology College in Northfleet, UK, whose focus is on computer science and climate change, was third.

Juliane Reinecke, professor of management studies at Said Business School, and finalists’ judge said: “What stood out from the winning entries was the determination to make a meaningful contribution, reflecting a genuine commitment to environmental stewardship.”

Professor Soumitra Dutta, dean of Said Business School, noted: “The competition leaves me full of hope for the future.”

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, founder and chairman of Burjeel Holdings, added: “COP28 is an important moment for the world to engage with the climate crisis. I’m proud to have been part of giving these young people a platform for their innovative solutions.”

All winners will be invited to take up a coveted spot in a bespoke programme at Oxford Said next year. The runners-up in the teacher category will get to attend the programme virtually.

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