Webinar Just Environmental Transitions in Arab Politics

The discussion will be held in both Arabic and English, with simultaneous interpretation to both languages and sign language available on Zoom only.

You can register to attend by following this link. You will receive a Zoom confirmation email should your registration be successful. Alternatively, you can watch the event live here on our Facebook page.


The environment has long been missing, or at best a side item, in Arab politics. Most Arab countries have prioritized economic growth and political stability over environmental concerns and changes. This delay, coupled with a global economic order that is built on extraction of resources, overreliance on hydrocarbons and consumerist overdrive, amplified the environmental challenges in the region. These include, desertification, water scarcity, worsening air quality, and fluctuating weather conditions, to name a few. Said environmental issues have long exerted a heavy social toll on the population of the Arab World, oftentimes contributing to political tensions and public health crises. In recent years, citizens in MENA countries have expressed their concerns about the environmental challenges facing their countries, especially those related to water issues. The 2021-2022 Arab Barometer Wave VII results highlights that citizens are concerned about the environmental challenges facing the region. The results convey that people in MENA societies recognize the responsibility of both citizens and government to tackle these challenges. 

As a response to tackle and combat climate risks, regional movements have been developing different tools to raise awareness, promote a just transition plan and challenge both governments and multinationals. While the concept of a just transition has a long history dating back to the 1970’s, it regained traction in the MENA region as environmental conditions are worsening. A just transition plan must consciously avoid reproducing the environmental and socio-economic injustices and inequalities which are intrinsic to the current economic and governance models. It means turning the economy greener in as fair and inclusive way as possible to everyone concerned. 

Debates over how a just transition in the MENA region would look like require an active engagement of Arab scholars who can play a critical role in advocating and advancing environmental issues, developing innovative solutions, and influencing public opinion. This is particularly important in a region that has little access to data, constraints on social mobilization and centralized power dynamics that routinely shun critical voices and seek to co-opt social and environmental movements. Hence, it has become increasingly urgent to push for a political debate on just transition and the policymaking that would be required to lay the foundation for such a transition. The role and voice of the wider Arab population in this debate should also be considered, as they are the one bearing the brunt of the environmental crisis. This webinar, titled “Just Environmental Transitions in Arab Politics” is a collaboration between the Arab Political Science Network (APSN) and the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI). 

The webinar aims to look at critical issues in the debate over the politics of the environment and climate change. It will highlight the power dynamics at play, the politics and politicization of the climate action for economic gains and the critical role of Arab scholarship in this field. The conversation will offer a holistic view of the meanings and practices of a just transition approach to the environmental issues and discuss the political challenges and opportunities of promoting environmental sustainability around water, food, and energy in the region. It builds on previous work done by ARI and other groups and movements in tackling issues around environmental degradation and developing policy alternatives. 

The webinar will look at the following questions:

  1. What does a just transition mean in the Arab context and how should we advocate for it? 
  2. How are environmental concerns addressed in Arab politics, and what have been some of the challenges in incorporating them into policymaking? 
  3. What are some of the ways to build and strengthen networks of research and policy to inform and promote environmental sustainability in the region? 
  4. How do Arab governments engage in green washing—by coopting environmental issues and movements - to stifle and manipulate the debate on just transition?
  5. What impact do the ongoing conflicts in the region have on the environment and is there a way to mitigate the crisis?