Young people around the world are on the front lines of those demanding bold climate action to safeguard their future, particularly as the impacts of climate change intensify year by year. Nowhere is this dynamic felt more acutely than in the MENA region, which is already severely impacted by the effects of climate change, and where approximately two-thirds of the region are under 35 years old. It is these future generations that will continue to disproportionately feel the impacts of climate change; but it is also young people in the region who are taking action and leveraging their skills and the limited available resources for climate change advocacy more than ever, whether through knowledge production, technical interventions, campaigning, and protest.
On Thursday, November 3, 2022, ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) hosted a virtual panel discussion on what climate advocates from the MENA region, particularly youth, want to see on the agenda. In a discussion moderated by TIMEP nonresident fellow Malak Altaeb, panelists Nisreen Elsaim, Jina Talj, Rawè Kefi, and Nissa Bek addressed questions such as: How are youth climate advocates organizing and innovating in the MENA region for climate justice? How are MENA youth advocates expecting to engage around COP 27? Critically, what steps must be taken to ensure that youth expertise, perspectives, and demands be centered in climate policymaking more generally?
Watch the conversation here:
Malak Altaeb, Nonresident Fellow, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) (Moderator)
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.
Nissa Bek, climate activist and founder of Project Mulan
Nissa Bek is a climate activist and media personality. She is the founder of Project Mulan, a youth-led project that aims to achieve the UNDP’s sustainable development goals in Libya. Through Project Mulan, she created a TV show, a radio show, and a podcast to raise awareness of social issues and SDGs. Since its inception Project Mulan has offered hundreds of young people in Tripoli aged 8 to 25 SDGs workshops, training, and campaigns. In 2021, Nissa was Libya’s representative in Youth4Climate’s Driving Ambition at the Pre-COP26 in Milan.
Nisreen Elsaim, climate activist; Chair of Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change; Chait of UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change
Nisreen Elsaim is an environmental and climate activist who began her advocacy in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Khartoum, Sudan. She also holds her master’s degree in renewable energy from the same university. Nisreen is also the general coordinator for Youth and Environment in the Sudan (YES) platform, working to give all environment working youth the networking they need. Nisreen is the Chair of Sudan’s Youth Organization on Climate Change (SYOCC), a youth-led organization, and in 2020 she was chosen to chair the UN Secretary General youth advisory group on climate change along with 6 other young climate activists.
Rawè Kefi, PhD candidate and project coordinator of Children of the Earth Network
Rawe Kefi is a PhD student in intercultural studies and environmental humanities, the project coordinator of Children of the Earth Network NGO based in Tunisia, and a member in the group of young negotiators on climate change in the Tunisian delegation. Her areas of interest are adaptation and action for climate empowerment.
Jina Talj, Director of Diaries of the Ocean and board member of Climate Action Network – Arab World
Jina Talj is a marine biologist, founder, and director of Diaries of the Ocean – an environmental NGO in Lebanon that works on marine biodiversity conservation, and democratizing access to biodiversity research to give non-experts an opportunity to act more responsibly towards marine life, providing them with tools to enhance ecosystem health in the East Mediterranean. Jina works on the effects of climate change on the marine ecosystem of the Mediterranean, and its socio-economic implications on the most vulnerable communities.