The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) will take place in the MENA region for the next two years, setting the course for future climate adaptation, mitigation, and response. Rising temperatures, drought, and extreme weather events in MENA threaten to have severe, direct impacts on daily life for people across the region, including their existential access to food, water, and livelihood. At this pivotal moment, MENA advocates have a unique opportunity to shed light on the dire challenges facing one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change and to put forward a vision of what transparent, just, and accountable climate policy should look like.
On Thursday, August 25, 2022, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) hosted a conversation with Malak Altaeb (TIMEP), Sarine Karajerjian (ARI), Sammy Kayed (Environment Academy), and Zeina Moneer, moderated by Reuters Levant Bureau Chief Maya Gebeily with opening remarks by TIMEP’s Achref Chibani about the top climate change issues affecting MENA. What are the biggest challenges facing the region in terms of climate change; what political, social, and economic impact do these issues have, including for vulnerable communities; and what should be on the COP 27 agenda? How are organizations, initiatives, and activists on the ground advocating for new strategies, interventions, and policies to adapt to and mitigate climate challenges? And what will it mean to hold COP 27 in a country where civil society advocates and citizens do not have the space to organize and express themselves freely, amid the continued commission of serious and ongoing human rights abuses?
This event occurred to mark the launch of “COP Comes to MENA: Examining Climate Change in the Region,” a new TIMEP project which is creating a platform for experts, advocates, and those most impacted to drive the climate policy agenda and center the most pressing climate issues and just interventions in the global climate conversation at COP 27, 28, and beyond.
Watch the recording here:
Malak Altaeb, Nonresident Fellow, The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
Malak Altaeb is a Nonresident Fellow at TIMEP focusing on food security in North Africa. Malak is an independent consultant, analyst, and researcher from Libya based in Paris, France. She holds a master’s degree in Environmental Policy from Sciences Po, Paris, and a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Tripoli, Libya. Malak is a Nonresident scholar in the water and climate program at the Middle East Institute (MEI). She is a graduate of the North African Policy Initiative’s Young Policy Leaders Program, during which she researched and wrote a policy paper on local agribusiness development in Tripoli, Libya. She publishes policy papers on water-related issues, with a lens on Libya and interest in the greater MENA region, such as a report on Libya’s water politics with the Arab Reform Initiative. You can follow her on Twitter at @MalakLibya1.
Sarine Karajerjian, Program Director, Environmental Politics, Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
Sarine Karajerjian is the Program Director of the Environmental Politics program at the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI). Prior to working at ARI, she worked for 15 years at the AUB’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs since the Institute’s inception. Her previous work covered strategic management, fundraising and outreach, and partnerships and grants management. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Anthropology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris and writing her dissertation on the exile and trauma of Syrian refugee women in Beirut. She holds a Masters’ degree in Environmental Policy Planning and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health from AUB.
Sammy Kayed, Co-founder and Managing Director of the Environment Academy
Sammy Kayed is the Co-founder and Director of The Environment Academy at the American University of Beirut – a community born, televised, and expert supported movement dealing with environmental breakdown. He has 10 years of experience leading the formulation of over 15 projects focused on the power of expert-community collaboration in bringing forward transformative environmental justice during states of crisis and collapse. Previously he worked with the University of California at Berkeley, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, UNEP, and others. He has contributed to several peer reviewed publications, regularly gives opinions in local and international media, and is committed to supporting place born activism and scholarship that targets systemic change.
Zeina Moneer, PhD
Zeina Moneer holds a PhD in environmental politics from Freiburg University in Germany. In 2018, She was a Visiting Research Fellow to the Nordic Africa Institute in Sweden. In 2020, She was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar to the Department of Political Science of New Hampshire University in the USA. She worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment of the American University in Cairo. Currently, she is affiliated with Suez Canal University in Egypt.
Achref Chibani, Nonresident Fellow, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
Achref Chibani is a Nonresident Fellow at TIMEP focusing on climate change in the Middle East and North Africa region. He is a Tunisian journalist, researcher, and civil society activist whose core areas of focus are climate change, renewable energies, and environmental protection. Based in Tataouine, southern Tunisia, Achref is also an Early Career Researcher Representative at the MENA Social Policy Network. He was formerly a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Middle East Program. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChibaniAchref.
Maya Gebeily, Levant Bureau Chief, Reuters (moderator)
Maya Gebeily is the Beirut bureau chief for Reuters, covering Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. She was previously the Middle East Correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, where she reported on climate change, socioeconomic inclusion and technology across the region. Before joining the TR Foundation, Maya spent six years at Agence France-Presse, where she reported on the war against the Islamic State group in Mosul, Raqqa and Baghouz as well as corruption in Iraq’s import sector.