An international collaboration that has brought together poetry, theatre, music, marine science and education to call for urgent climate action will be showcased at a special event in the United Arab Emirates this week.
We Are The Possible – COP28 will be presented to an invited audience at the Mohamed Bin Rashid Library in Dubai on 7 December as part of the cultural events programme surrounding the UN’s global COP conference.
Led by the University of Exeter, We Are The Possible directly addresses policymakers and the public over the importance of the arts to engage people about climate change and enable them to see that that they have agency to make a difference.
Centred around two bilingual poetry anthologies – one co-created by around 200 scientists, artists, educators and youth leaders, the other developed and illustrated by 400 school children (aged 10-12) in the British Isles and UAE – the project has created a rich programme of events inspired by the poetry, including a new sustainable theatre performance, and music and soundscapes by students at the internationally-renowned BIMM Institute.
Each of these creative outputs will be showcased at the event, housed at Dubai’s flagship seven-storey library, and co-hosted by the Universities of Khorfakkan and Exeter.
Professor Ahmed Al Shamma’a, Chancellor of Khorfakkan, said: “We are delighted and proud to engage our school and university students from the UAE in the ‘We Are the Possible’ and ‘Schools Across the Ocean’ projects, in collaboration with our esteemed partner the University of Exeter. We fully support and encourage our student’s fantastic creativity and innovative skills for addressing the environmental and sustainability challenges we’re facing today. We’re looking forward to co-hosting the event on the 7th of December together with Exeter.”
Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Exeter, will be speaking at the event. She added: “International collaborations such as ‘We Are The Possible’ demonstrate how the global higher education sector is perfectly placed to take a lead on communicating, educating and inspiring change when it comes to the crucial issue of the climate emergency and ecological crisis. Through this project, we are establishing a foundation for ongoing collaboration with our colleagues at Khorfakkan, as well as schools, artists and climate leaders.”
Funded by the British Embassy Gulf Strategy Fund, We Are the Possible has been orchestrated by Exeter with a host of major organisations, including the Emirates Literature Foundation, the Met Office, BIMM Institute, University of Khorfakkan, the Theatre of Others, British Council UAE, the British Embassy in the UAE, and a network of schools in UAE and UK.
The showcase will begin with a live performance of Bright Light Burning, which has been developed by the Theatre of Others as a theatrical interpretation of the poetry and is designed to be performed in a sustainable way with minimal wastage or environmental impact. This will be followed by a Q&A with the director and members of the project team.
The education aspect of We Are The Possible will be a significant focus of the event, with a celebration of the achievements of the children involved in its ‘Schools Across the Ocean’ project. Schools Across the Ocean brought together 14 coastal schools in the British Isles and UAE in a twinning arrangement, with 400 pupils aged 10-12 learning about seagrass ecosystems and the importance of the ocean with scientists.
This experience has been captured in a video that will be screened for the audience, and, later, the children’s poetry anthology, We Are The Ocean, will be presented to the Mohamed Bin Rashid Library. Some of the UAE schoolchildren involved will then read a selection of poems from the book, while recordings of children from the UK will also be broadcast.
The showcase will also feature a live performance of songs developed by students at the BIMM Institute in Bristol; and a performance from the Sharjah-based Art for All theatre group, which specialises in mime. Marine biologist, filmmaker and writer Tom Mustill will perform his Climate Whale Song Bath, and there will also be a recorded message from Her Excellency Razan Khalifa Al-Mubarak, UN High-Level Champion for COP28.
“We are honoured to be presenting our programme at such an important cultural centre for education in the UAE,” says Project Director Cecilia Mañosa Nyblon. “By connecting science, health, education, and the arts through storytelling, We Are the Possible unites the University of Exeter, the University of Khorfakkan, and a network of partners in the UAE and UK. It builds on our work at COP26 and 27, and creates a legacy for our two countries in addressing this globally important issue.”
We Are The Possible will be presenting different aspects of its work at a host of events in the Blue and Green Zones of COP28, as well as several other events in Dubai. For more information, please visit the We Are The Possible landing page on the website.
The event is open to members of the media. If you would like to attend, please complete the Google document form.