Environmental Activism in the Post-Arab Spring: it is not about a mere clean environment

In her qualitive analysis for the 10th Euromed Survey, Aziza Moneer (PhD. Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden) analyses the causes that should be advocated by civil society in the MENA region such as human rights, fighting corruption, social justice, education, and climate change.

Young Tunisian climate activists protest on the steps of the country’s national theatre, with 16-year-old activist Rima Rahmani at centre back in yellow jacket. Gorilla Production/ Saber Sliti

These are some ideas of her analysis worth highlighting:

  • Environmental activism –typically around issues affecting public health and livelihoods– has been on the rise in the region over the past few decades.

  • The Arab Spring could be described as a “green spring”.

  • The social media played a key role in providing a platform to environmental activists and concerned citizens.

  • The movements express the people’s frustration and discontent with bad governance, low quality of life, corruption, and marginalisation.

  • The significant role of youths in these environmental mobilisations reflects their increasing awareness of environmental problems.

  • The consistent pressure of these movements challenged the discourse of the state and its apparatuses whereby the economic growth was conceptualised as a priority.

  • The experience of the last few years suggests that cooperation between the EU and the MENA countries has been done on the basis of a Eurocentric approach.

  • If Europe wants to succeed in staving off disorder in its neighbours and prevent future mass displacement of people, more needs to be done to shift investment priorities from high carbon to low carbon and resilient projects.

The publication of the Euromed Survey 2019 includes a descriptive report of the results and analysis articles by experts such as Intissar KherigiRichard Youngs, Senior Fellow (Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program, Carnegie Europe); Itxaso Domínguez Middle East & Maghreb Coordinator (Fundación Alternativas); Jerzy Pomianowki, Executive Director (European Endowment for Democracy EED-Brussels); Aziza Moneer (PhD. Visiting Research Fellow, Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden); Zaid Eyadat (Prof. Director of the Center for Strategic Studies. University of Jordan).

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