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Due to the current social and economic changes occurring in the Kingdom, people have become more aware of their surroundings and environment and public sector Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives have played a major role in increasing environmental awareness and highlighting the need to build a more sustainable society.
Nael Fayez is the CEO of INJAZ-Saudi Arabia (ISA), a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide and the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to educating students and preparing them for entrepreneurship as well as producing critical thinkers. Injaz programs are currently implemented in 16 cities all over the Kingdom with a total of 58,083 (27,879 female and 30,204 male students) students benefiting from the programs.
Taking a new approach, Injaz and the National Commercial Bank (NCB) are collaborating on a new CSR initiative for the environment titled “Friends of Earth”. The initiative is aimed at elementary school students and seeks to raise awareness on the importance of protecting the environment at a young age.
“This is done by providing some notions such as renewable energy, non-renewable and the concept of sustainability. The minds of elementary students begin to combine simple ideas into more complex relations. As a result, they need a variety of direct experiences to develop cognitively, physically, emotionally and socially,” Fayez explained.
INJAZ-Saudi Arabia has always been eager to discover individual roles in order to participate in innovative change processes. CSR programs are powerful tools to raise awareness and create an impact on social and environmental behaviors. Fayez argued that corporates can illustrate a real Public Private Partnership by providing resources and funds to socially aimed causes and empowering NGOs, NPOS and social groups to deliver their programs. “Society-at-large will benefit and make sure that enough behaviors and attitudes would be positively influenced in favor of such issues,” he added.
Fayez believes that the country’s future relies on a well-educated public that sustains families and future generations. “It is environmental education that can help us best as individuals to make the conceptual connections between economic prosperity, benefits to society, environmental health and our own well-being. Ultimately, the collective wisdom of our youth is gained through education and will be the most compelling and most successful strategy for environmental management,” he added.
“Environmental education has a notable positive impact not only on the youth; it shows in their surrounding environment and how they manage to sustain it, which gives them a strong feeling of pride and accomplishment.”
As Saudi society becomes more active on environmental issues such as Earth day, there is a greater focus on raising awareness about negative environmental behaviors.
“Society should take into consideration that our youth are learning from us and that their actions are a reflection of what they see, which is always thought to be the right thing to do. When it comes to the environment, not many people think highly of it or even consider it at all. Personally, I believe it is due to lack of awareness and knowledge; people are not aware of the importance of their environment and therefor their children don’t,” he explained.
The Public and private sectors have now become more aware of their responsibility towards the youth as more collaborations are taking place particularly on the educational level. Fayez believes both sectors should take part in all environmental related initiatives especially ones that are aimed at the youth.
“Both sectors should acknowledge that they are role models to everyone.
Society thinks highly of them and the youth look up to them. Hence, by showing interest in the environment and its sustainability, children will follow and society would be eager to help them hand in hand and spread awareness to keep our environment healthy and sustainable,” he concluded.