Winners of IRENA’s Teaching for Net Zero Award Announced at COP28


IRENA and UAE reward teachers from six countries for taking an innovative approach to teaching students about renewable energy.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 5 December 2023 – The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the UAE have announced the winners of the Teaching for Net Zero Campaign award, launched in collaboration with members from the Energy Transition Education Network, a multi-stakeholder partnership established by IRENA with the support of the UAE at COP27.

The six winners came from Belgium, Benin, Nigeria, Colombia, Bhutan and Morocco. Each one demonstrated innovative teaching methods to help inspire students and educate them about how and why we need to accelerate the energy transition.

IRENA’s Deputy Director General, Gauri Singh, said: “Educating students of all ages about renewable energy is vital for a successful energy transition. Teachers play a pivotal role in ensuring that youth have the knowledge, values and skills necessary to accelerate the momentum and make students aware of the behavioural changes we all need to make to embrace a new energy system. Many countries are blessed with inspiring, innovative teachers. But unfortunately, many teachers around the world lack the resources, capacity and confidence to teach about renewable energy solutions and climate action. That is why IRENA and the UAE developed the Teaching for Net Zero Campaign, an initiative that aims to empower educators with tools, knowledge, resources, training and best practices. Through this initiative, we are helping teachers to become torchbearers for the call to triple renewable energy capacity.”

The UAE Permanent Representative to IRENA, Dr. Nawal Al Hosany said: “A just and inclusive energy transition is not possible without involving our youth in the process from the earliest stages of their development. Students of all ages must be taught, tutored and empowered with a clear understanding of the role renewable energy plays in improving energy access and efficiency. The Teaching for Net Zero Campaign gives students the head-start they need by equipping teachers with the knowledge and skillsets to provide accurate information about the energy transition to a future system fueled by renewable solutions.”

Under the Teaching for Net Zero Campaign, IRENA and the UAE invited primary and secondary teachers, higher as well as vocational educators and non-formal educators from around the world to submit their unique teaching practices. Each winner received a sponsored trip to COP28 to share their experiences and to be featured in the Teaching for Net Zero Campaign. The educators presented at the Greening Education Hub managed by the UAE Ministry of Education, who are also Campaign collaborators contributing to the development of curriculum guidance. Other Campaign activities at COP 28 and beyond include the launch of Teaching for Net Zero teaching resources, workshops for educators, and promotion of good practices.

The winners included:

Vinciane Scheuren (Belgium), Project Manager, Scienceinfuse UCLouvain, organised a “Generation Zero Watt” challenge with the aim of reducing energy consumption in primary schools in the Walloon region of Belgium. Students became energy detectives, carrying out energy audits of the school to identify where too much energy was being consumed and problem solving how to make their schools more energy efficient.

Zoulkifirou Sambo Mama (Benin), Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Engineer, Esmer Academy, organised a renewable energy focused science camp for children aged 8 to 13 with a twofold objective: to introduce children to science and present them with information and ideas for preserving the environment around them.

Jennifer Obiorah (Nigeria), Founder, Team UpCyclers, founded Team Upcyclers, a community-based project that addresses climate change and energy poverty in the education sector. This initiative promotes sustainable development goals (SDGs), climate, and energy education in schools and internally displaced persons camps. It donates solar devices to students to promote SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 13 - Climate Action.

Cesar Barraza (Colombia), Professor of Engineering, Universidad de La Sabana, designed a course to introduce students to cutting edge technologies, barriers and opportunities to develop sustainable systems in the framework of a just energy transition. The course combines challenge and service-based learning methodologies to allow students to develop clean energy solutions to tackle an essential service issue affecting marginalised communities in Colombia.

Manoj Sharma (Bhutan), Lecturer, Royal University of Bhutan, developed major renewable energy projects within the campus of the College of Science and Technology, including solar photovoltaic (solar PV) technologies, solar water pumping technologies, electric vehicle technologies, and also incorporates a kitchen waste to energy initiative and simulations for the wind power technologies into his teaching. All these improvements created a space for students to not only learn about the design of the solar PV, hydro power, wind power and biomass systems, but also to study the use of these technologies in achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Noureddine Hamri (Morocco), Founder & Renewable Energy Engineer, Turn Up the Light, set up energy education workshops in the Berber Nomadic Communities to enhance their resiliency against climate change and promote energy literacy.

Read more about the Energy Transition Education Network and Teaching for Net Zero Award