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Voices of Future Generations

by Eddie Rayner

The international launch of the illustrated books of the inaugural winners of the Voices of Future Generations competition in the Middle East was celebrated yesterday on International Literacy Day, with a roundtable about the links between education, children’s rights, and sustainability.

HH Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum said: “The road to publication is long and laborious, and the children have committed to working hard and sharpening their storytelling skills to get to this point. This tenacity coupled with their understanding, passion and dedication to make others aware of what SDGs are through publishing their stories are the qualities we need in future generations. I am proud of them and I look forward to seeing what they go on to achieve.”

Organised by The Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), the round table was hosted jointly with the Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative, in partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and experts from the University of Cambridge and McGill University. It brings together teachers, child and youth leaders, mentors and experts on intergenerational equity, children’s rights, and the global Sustainable Development Goals. The inaugural winners of the Voices of Future Generations competition in the Middle East in 2020, Saud Ahmad Al-Kaabi, age 10, from Kalba, and Saira Thomas, age 12, from Sharjah, also took part in the event with a special storytime to celebrate the launch of their books.  

The Voices of Future Generations writing initiative was created to promote sustainability awareness and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The regional competition is organised by the Emirates Literature Foundation on behalf of HH Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Goodwill Ambassador for the initiative for the Middle East.

The competition, now in its fourth year in the region, will see the 2022 winners being celebrated at a special award ceremony on the 25 September. The event will also mark the start of the next round, open to all children living in the GCC and aged between 8 and 12. Entries should be between 600 -1500 words long and can be in either Arabic or English. The adventure stories should feature themes around children’s rights and sustainable development, and the writer’s hopes, dreams or aspirations for a sustainable future.

The competition is held under the patronage of the UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, part of UNESCO’s network of national cooperating bodies. For more details, visit Voices of Future Generations.