Webinar Second Annual Conference on Environmental Politics:  Towards a Just Environmental Transition in the Middle East and North Africa

The conference booklet is available for download here.


How do the environmental and climate crises intersect with social inequality in the Middle East and North Africa? How do we root environmental and climate debates within the region in social justice and equity concerns?

The concept of Just Transition has become a keystone of the post-Paris Climate Agreement policy world, while many activists and frontline communities claim that it has lost its original meaning. With the next two Conference of Parties (COP) meetings taking place in the MENA – COP27 in Egypt and COP28 in the UAE – how do global debates over Just Environmental Transitions play in the region? What do just transitions in energy, food systems, waste and water management mean for populations across the region? And is this an adequate framework for organizing ecological solidarity and activism in MENA?

ARI’s second annual conference of its Environmental Politics Program convenes activists, researchers, and practitioners on the frontlines of environmental and climate action in MENA to discuss the visions, strategies, tensions, and contradictions around what just environmental transitions entail.

You can register to attend online by following this link. You will receive a Zoom confirmation email should your registration be successful.

You can register to attend in-person by following this link.

Alternatively, you can watch the event live on our Facebook page.

Simultaneous interpretation between Arabic and English will be available both in-person and via Zoom.



Day 1:   31 May, 2022

Welcome & Introductions

9:30 - 10:00 am (Beirut)

Nadim Houry, Executive Director, Arab Reform Initiative

Sarine Karajerjian, Program Director of Environmental Politics, Arab Reform Initiative


PANEL 1 | Just Transition, a Framework for Coalition-Building in MENA?

10:00 - 11:30 am (Beirut)

Since the concept of Just Transition first emerged in the 1970s, a growing number of projects around the world have emerged to build alliances between labor movements and disparate social and environmental justice movements and organizations – as well as to argue that addressing environmental catastrophe in isolation from social and economic structures are false solutions. What can the experiences of struggles around the world teach us? And what can the different Arab contexts contribute to the global discussion? To what extent is Just Transition a unifying framework for activism in MENA? What are the possibilities and limitations in the regional context? What are current and potential trans-movement and transregional solidarities?

Ali Aznague, Coordinator, Siyada North African Food Sovereignty Network

Farah Daibes, Senior Program Manager, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s Political Feminism Program (MENA)

Katie Sandwell, Senior Project Officer, Agrarian and Environmental Justice Program, Transnational Institute 

Sarmad Amjad, Transformative Justice Project Coordinator and International Organization representative in Iraq

moderated by Julia Choucair Vizoso, ARI Non-Resident Fellow (Environment)



PANEL 2 | Water (In)Justice: A problem of scarcity or equity?

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm  (Beirut)

The MENA region is the most water-scarce in the world, facing the brunt of water insecurity in the face of conflict, climate change, and resource extraction. Despite these factors, water governance continues to favor economic interests over equity and adaptive practices. What are the barriers to equitable water governance in the Arab region, and what policies are needed to ensure both the restoration of water resources and rightful access to them?

Hussam Hawwa, Director, Difaf

Maha Yassin, Researcher, Planetary Security Initiative, Clingendael Institute

Musaed Aklan, PhD Candidate, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

Nada Arafat, Reporter and Journalist, Mada Masr

Yasser Souilmi, Natural resource management engineer and project manager, Houloul

Moderated by Jamil Mouawad, ARI Senior Research Fellow (Beirut)



PANEL 3 | Towards Just Agricultural Transitions and Food Sovereignty in MENA

2:30 pm - 4:00 pm (Beirut)

The agricultural sector has transformed in MENA in the past decades, with agricultural workers and rural communities becoming more impoverished while the goal of food sovereignty is more distant than ever. What are the sustainable alternatives to the current regional food systems? What does shifting the framework from food security to food sovereignty entail? How can the region rewrite its food policies? What can we learn from existing but marginalized alternatives at the local level?

Medani Abbas Medani, Director, Sudanese Development Call “Nidaa”

Nada Trigui, Member, Tunisian Observatory of Economy (OTE)

Omar Tesdell, Assistant Professor of Geography, Birzeit University

Rami Zurayk, Professor of Ecosystem Management, American University of Beirut

Moderated by Farah Al-Shami, ARI Research Fellow (Beirut)


Day 2: 1 June, 2022

PANEL 4 | Energy Transitions in the Gulf: Internal and external implications

10:00 - 11:30 am (Beirut)

The particularities of the hydrocarbon-dependent political economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) raise critical questions about how they will adjust to changing global energy markets and what the repercussions will be beyond their borders. Internally, growing populations and a rentier social contract built on revenues from fossil fuels imply severe potential social impacts from energy transitions. Regionally, as the wealthiest MENA states, the GCC countries are the largest carbon emitters in MENA and also the best equipped to avoid the worst effects of climate change – raising questions about how environmental harms are distributed.

Camille Ammoun, Independent Political Economy Analyst

Crystal Ennis, University Lecturer, Political Economy of the Middle East, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Manal Shehabi, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies

Mohammad Al-Saidi, Assistant professor of public policy, Department of International Affairs, Qatar University

Moderated by Sarine Karajerjian, ARI Director of Environmental Politics Program



PANEL 5 | Just Energy Transitions: Moving away from fossil fuels in North Africa

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm (Beirut)

North Africa is a region with significant potential for the expansion of renewable energy sources. As we see a surge in renewable energy projects, critics and residents of the lands where these projects are sited worry they might reproduce the economic and political inequalities inherent in fossil fuel extraction. What are the current and expected material impacts of renewable energy projects in North Africa? Who is most affected and how? What does working towards a just energy transition entail?

Aida Delpuech, Freelance journalist

Atman Aoui, President of the Association for Mediation, Morocco

Ilyes Ben Ammar, Member of the Working Group on Energy Democratization

Rabie Wahba, Regional Coordinator, International Land Coalition

Moderated by Malek Lakhal, ARI Research Fellow (Tunis)



PANEL 6 | Waste Management: What are the needed reforms?

2:30 pm - 4:00 pm (Beirut)

Urban growth and the increase of consumption rates in the MENA region create an ever-growing quantity of household waste and especially plastic waste, that do not get reused or recycled and end up in landfills or uncontrolled dump sites. What are alternative models of integrated and sustainable waste management that are socially inclusive and equitable?

Leen Sraj, Solid Waste Management Consultant, Nadeera

Mohamad Kamal, Co-managing Director, Greenish

Nadine Wahab, Founder and Director, EcoDahab

Moderated by Zied Boussen, ARI Senior Research Fellow (Tunis)