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Young Emirati Environmentalist Calls for Action at COP28

Mariam Hassan Al-Ghafri, a 16-year-old Emirati environmentalist, is encouraging negotiators to address a lesser-known but critical issue: light pollution.

As COP28 intensifies efforts to combat climate change, 16-year-old Emirati environmentalist Mariam Hassan Al-Ghafri urges negotiators to address a lesser-known yet crucial issue: light pollution.

The Plea for Starry Nights:

“We all deserve to see the stars,” insists Mariam, emphasizing how light pollution transforms the night sky into a glowing canvas, obscuring the brilliance of stars. 

The glow, known as skyglow, not only diminishes the visibility of stars but also affects human well-being.

Mariam, a member of the UAE Parliament for Children and UNICEF ambassador for COP28 for adolescents, draws on personal experiences. 

A youth camp revealed the stark contrast between city living, characterized by intense light pollution, and the untouched wilderness, where the celestial beauty of sparkling stars captivated her.

From Starry Nights to Environmental Advocacy:

Inspired by the radiant Arabian night sky, Mariam, the chair of the standing committee for environment and sustainability at the UAE Children’s Parliament, transitioned into an environmentalist and innovator. 

A Grade 11 student at Diyar Private Academy, Fujairah, she has conceived over two dozen inventions to improve daily life, from translating pictures into Braille to developing a device detecting children locked inside cars using carbon dioxide levels.

Her environmental advocacy extends beyond stargazing; for Mariam, addressing light pollution is integral to the broader challenge of combating climate change. It’s not just about preserving the view of stars; it’s about mitigating the impact of bright lights on sleep cycles, leading to various health issues.

Beyond Stargazing: The Environmental Impact:

Beyond the aesthetic loss, light pollution is linked to the decline in insect populations and poses a threat to birds attracted to brightly lit structures. 

Mariam emphasizes that solving light pollution is crucial for a sustainable future, especially for the youth who bear the least responsibility but will endure the most significant consequences of climate change.

A Young Voice at COP28:

As a young parliamentarian, Mariam sees her role as amplifying the concerns of young Emiratis. Despite their limited contribution to climate change, they will be disproportionately affected. 

She urges collective action for climate change and emphasizes the need for youth perspectives in crafting solutions.

Optimistic about COP28’s potential, Mariam looks forward to real solutions emerging from the ongoing UN Climate Summit in Dubai. 

She expresses gratitude to the UAE for providing a platform for young voices. She challenges everyone to unite for climate action, ensuring a future where generations can appreciate the stars.

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