Yihui Wang 2/1/2018

The Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) has published a report titled, ‘Arab Environment in 10 Years,’ which synthesizes a decade worth of AFED annual reports on the state of the Arab environment. Highlighting developments across six priority areas (water, energy, air, food, green economy, and environmental scientific research), the publication analyzes environmental progress and change across the region.

The publication uses the first report, from 2008, titled, ‘Arab Environment: Future Challenges,’ as its baseline. It then synthesizes information from AFED state of the environment reports that focused on: climate change (2009), water (2010), green economy (2011), ecological Footprint (2012), sustainable energy (2013), food security (2014), sustainable consumption (2015) and sustainable development in a changing Arab climate (2016).

The report finds wide disparities in the current status of environment from country to country, and across many environment sectors. It also highlights that while progress remains slow in many areas, there have been widespread improvements in environmental governance and engagement in international treaties, especially on climate change. Countries that have not progressed in the environmental arena are often those facing political instability or conflict situations, according to AFED. The report indicates that more ambitious national actions are needed to resolve the evolving environmental challenges in the region.

In his forward to the report, the Secretary General of AFED, Najib Saab, discusses a public opinion survey carried out as part of the 2017 report. It finds that 80% of those surveyed believe that the environment “deteriorated or did not improve,” while 95% think their country “is not doing enough to tackle environmental challenges.” Saab points out, however, that most participants are also willing to “engage in personal action to protect the environment” and “abide by stricter environmental laws.” He underscores the direct impact of public participation in successful environmental policy and the importance of “people centered development.”

AFED is a regional non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that brings together various stakeholders to advance environmental policy and action across Arab countries.

Yihui Wang is Thematic Expert for Climate Change (China)

on the report

ARAB ENVIRONMENT IN 10 YEARS crowns a decade of the series of annual reports produced by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) on the state of Arab environment. It tracks and analyzes changes focusing on policies and governance, including level of response and engagement in international environmental treaties. It also highlights developments in six selected priority areas, namely water, energy, air, food, green economy and environmental scientific research.

AFED launched in 2008 the first report in its annual series entitled “Arab Environment: Future Challenges.” That inaugural report provided for the first time a comprehensive baseline on the status of environment in the region, which the present report relied on to track changes over the past decade.

Eight topical reports followed, on Climate Change (2009), Water (2010), Green Economy (2011), Ecological Footprint (2012), Sustainable Energy (2013), Food Security (2014), Sustainable Consumption (2015) and Sustainable Development in a Changing Arab Climate (2016).

This report found that the state of environment in the Arab countries over the past ten years has been characterized by disparities. While progress was slow and the situation deteriorated in many aspects, there were advances in others, especially regarding matters related to governance and commitment to international treaties, particularly regarding climate change. Despite the lack of real progress in several countries, mainly those which are facing political unrest and instability, others have made strides towards shifting to a more sustainable path, with more financial resources directed towards investments in environmental infrastructure.

Despite slow progress, we noted with satisfaction that what AFED called for in its reports has become prime driver for policy reforms in many Arab countries. AFED continues to engage many regional players, including public policy officials, corporations, academia, NGOs, and the media, in a meaningful debate.

As part of the 2017 report, AFED carried out a public opinion survey across the Arab countries to track environmental perceptions and attitudes. Results showed that a majority of 80 percent thought that the environmental situation deteriorated or did not improve, while 95 percent found that their country is not doing enough to tackle environmental challenges.

It is hoped that this report will assist in developing robust policies and implementation plans for better environmental management, as pillar of sustainable economic and social development.