Subscribers will have noticed an increase in the volume of postings. The volume of news and scholarship related to environment and climate in the Middle East has in fact increased. The increase has been gradual over time, but it is clearly noticeable when comparisons are made to 1997, when this project began, and even compared to 2004, when the project became public.

Environmental issues – energy, water, resource extraction, pollution, waste, biodiversity, loss of natural habitat, urban growth, population pressure, consumption expectations, environmental policy debates, land – use policy debates, sustainable development debates, environmental justice debates, the management of climate change, transboundary environmental cooperation and environmental conflict – have become widely recognized within the region.

This widening recognition can be seen in those initiatives to develop a regional environmental perspective that are listed as links on the left side of the website. The oldest are Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), which was founded as a pan-Arab response to the first UN conference on the environment in 1971, and the Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environmental Program, the UN agency that was founded by the same conference. Other initiatives emerged in the 1990s – Al-Bia Wal Tanmia, the Arava Institute, Friends of the Earth Middle East, the environment and water division of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, and the Euro-Mediterranean Water Information System. Many others have been created only over the past decade – Arab Environment Watch, the Arab Forum for Environment and Development, the Arava Alumni Peace and Environment Network, Greenpeace Mediterranean, Green Prophet, the environmental projects of the Union for the Mediterranean, the MENA Region Water Resources and Wastewater Network of the World Bank, and think-tank research projects from the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Mediterranean Security, Strategic Foresight and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

Wider recognition does not mean that environmental issues have become central to regional thinking, politics or policy-making. Other issues take precedence in regional politics and everyday conversations. As well, it is common for discussion of environmental issues to address each issue in isolation, as if the only response that is needed is to “solve” each problem one by one.

Environmentalists think holistically. We think about networks of relationships and ecological systems. When the various environmental issues are thought about as interdependent elements of an ecosystem, the task of creating a reasonable quality of life for the people of a region with limited resources, depleting natural areas and biodiversity, a rapidly growing population and endemic conflict – compounded by negative effects of climate change – comes into focus as an immense long range policy challenge.

“Environment and Climate in the Middle East” will continue to pay detailed attention to a wide range of issues, to the relationships between them and to environmental policy making. We hope that our archive, which can be analyzed using the site’s “search” function, will continue to be a resource to scholars who are putting the pieces together and to policy makers who are working to help the people of the region navigate the challenges ahead. Subscribers to the newsletter from the site now number over 300. The newsletter is open to additional subscribers, who may join by contacting Stuart Schoenfeld,, or Itay Greenspan,