WEEC2024 Day 5: Rooting for Change


In the heart of Abu Dhabi, the mangroves stand in tranquil defiance, a testament to the beauty and serenity of nature’s resilience. These ecological havens are not just sanctuaries for diverse wildlife but also offer a sanctuary for humans to delve deep into the natural world. Kayaking through the narrow channels of the mangroves, visitors get an intimate view of these unique plants and their survival strategies, experiencing moments of peaceful coexistence with nature.


Mangroves are among the most crucial wetland ecosystems on the planet. They serve as bulwarks against coastal erosion and desertification while maintaining ecological balance and acting as significant carbon sinks in the battle against global warming. The multifaceted value of these habitats makes their preservation a vibrant example of education for sustainable development. Abu Dhabi’s commitment to protecting mangroves not only conserves biodiversity but also upholds the health of the environment, demonstrating that economic progress can indeed harmonize with nature conservation.


During this experience, I was fortunate to meet an Indian biologist specializing in hedgehogs, a species that plays a vital role in reflecting the principles of sustainable development education. His research spans beyond just hedgehogs, touching on biodiversity and the resilience of ecosystems. His studies have shown that every creature, regardless of size, has an indispensable role in the ecological network.



The five days spent at the WEEC conference profoundly enlightened me. Environmental educators from around the globe convened to share insights and experiences. The conference reinforced my understanding of environmental education, which should transcend knowledge transfer to cultivate citizens with a sense of environmental responsibility. Discussions on sustainable development education highlighted the pivotal role of education in shaping future leaders, who will be crucial in safeguarding our shared planet.

Reflecting on my journey, I’ve come to understand that environmental and sustainable development education is not just about theoretical learning but also about transforming practices and lifestyles. From the lush mangroves of Abu Dhabi to the podiums of international conferences, each step taken is part of the stride towards a greener, fairer, and more sustainable future.



About the Author

Gao Zhitong is currently a student at Shanghai Concordia International School. He first connected with Green Light-Year during the 2018 “Take Xuesen Road Again” Northwest Environmental Protection Science and Technology  Research  Camp, where he stood out as the best debater and reporter (Link: 重走学森路18 | D1 高铁上“找茬儿”调研的营员们). He also participated in a meeting with the curator of the Qian Xuesen Museum (Link: “重走学森路”分享会丨一起康康孩子们参营后的变化!). In 2020, he joined the TrashTrack project team, collaborating with five other high school students. They used GPS trackers to investigate the final destinations of sorted waste in different communities in Shanghai (Link: TrashTrack小队科普丨MoniTour: 追踪电子废弃物的全球路线). Their findings were featured in a full-page article in the Jiefang Daily (Link: 新闻报道丨解放日报:追踪垃圾分类,追问更多可能性). He also encouraged his sister, who attends the University of Sydney, to write a popular science article for Green Light-Year about how American environmental organizations track the final destinations of electronic waste.

He is actively involved in social practice activities organized by his school and community, earning praise and trust from teachers in both contexts. He has served as a department head in the student council and has achieved notable successes in numerous activities.


Written & image by Gao Zhitong (Shanghai Concordia International School)

Designed by Zhang Zhiyuan

Edited by Sheng Xiajing