The link between education and philanthropy is critical to fighting climate change

H.E Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation a non-profit organization in the UAE.

By embedding education in climate action strategies, we can ensure an informed, proactive approach to sustainability




We live in a time marked by the urgent need for climate solutions. It is also a time in which the connection between philanthropy and business is vital. Last year, as global leaders gathered for the climate summit Cop28 in the UAE, it became apparent how such a partnership could contribute to a sustainable future.

The concept is clear: businesses drive economic growth, while philanthropy, by addressing areas often strained by environmental and social challenges, complements and strengthens government initiatives. This is more than a theoretical approach.

For example, last year, the UAE’s Ministry of Education announced an international eco-education programme – a Green Education Partnership with Unesco and Unicef – that would offer schools across the UAE a national framework to support climate education and action among young people.



Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the UK’s Prince William plant trees with school children at the Jubail Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi, in February 2022. AFP


And since 2015, the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation has run similar initiatives such as the green education programme, benefiting approximately 100,000 young Emirati and Arab students, equipping them with skills that are technical, transferable and high in demand.

The diversity of programmes offered to young people in the UAE prepares them for all kinds of work opportunities through partnerships across multiple sectors.

Our efforts are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and are realised through collaborations with entities such as the UAE Ministry of Education, the American University of Beirut, and companies such as Accenture, Samsung, Mashreq, Amazon, Burjeel Medical Centre among others. These partnerships demonstrate a shared commitment to foster a climate-conscious mindset across different industries, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable future in business.

Philanthropy’s role to drive meaningful climate action is significant to promote the strategic use of resources to maximum effect

To tackle climate change and secure sustainable financing, awareness across all levels of society is crucial. This involves educating everyone from students to employers, governments and thought leaders, which then creates a momentum of positive change.

Such an approach aims to cultivate an understanding of environmental issues among youth, consumers and business communities, thereby influencing and then changing behaviour at the scale that is required to make a real difference.

Philanthropy is key in this endeavour, going beyond generosity to embody responsibility. Philanthropists have the resources and influence and they can help support positive societal trends and guide initiatives towards sustainable goals.

Their role is not just to provide funding but also to foster innovation and envision long-term impacts. By embedding education in climate action strategies, we ensure an informed, proactive approach to sustainability. This is why we partnered with the UAE Ministry of Education to support climate learning across the nation.

Philanthropy’s role to drive meaningful climate action is significant to promote the strategic use of resources to maximum effect. This demands a mindset of optimisation – that is – a business mindset. Philanthropic foundations can pioneer innovative financing models, support research and development, and support climate solutions. They play a vital role in funding efforts in communities that are most affected by climate change, by influencing people in these communities to demand greener options for all goods and services.

The intersection of philanthropy and business holds enormous potential. In my dual role as a business leader and a philanthropist, I see the immense opportunities that arise from aligning business strategies with philanthropic goals, especially in the field of climate action. Businesses possess the necessary resources, extensive reach and expertise to enact sustainable changes on a grand scale.

The growing consumer demand for sustainable business practices drives companies to adapt and improve. This shift in consumer awareness and subsequently their preferences compels companies to revise their policies and practices and makes them more sustainable.

This also encourages more business houses to embrace environmentally responsible operations. In addition, the growing consumer demand for sustainable business practices drives companies to adapt and improve.

Philanthropy can accelerate in this process. Philanthropic investments can mitigate risks in green technology ventures, support start-ups focused on sustainable solutions and provide incentives to businesses to adopt eco-friendly practices. This can have a much large effect and cultivate a market for sustainability, promoting both economic growth and environmental stewardship.

The Foundation is committed to this vision but we cannot embark on this journey alone. The complexity and scale of climate challenges require collective action – a united front of governments, businesses, philanthropic foundations and individuals. As we gathered at Cop28, we pledged to this collective endeavour for action, not just talk. Let us use our strengths to drive significant, lasting change.

Envisioning the future, philanthropists and business leaders can catalyse systemic change by embedding sustainability in their ethos. By viewing the climate challenge as an opportunity for innovation, we can build a better world for future generations. As each business adopts green goals, we approach a point where some of these practices become routine and which can ultimately lead to a profound and lasting impact.


H.E. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair is an Emirati businessman and philanthropist