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donderdag 11 juni 2020

Green Partners MENA: builders and sowers

It was the first time for Professor Salma Talhouk to see how much is going in the Middle East and North Africa, when it comes to sustainable activism. She works at the American University in Beirut, and, as an outgoing academic, has for years explored ways to involve communities and youth in the protection of land and environment. On 27 May she took part in a roundtable meeting organised by Het Grote Midden Oosten Platform (GMOP).

There are many local Green initiatives and activists in the Middle East, but they often don’t know about each other, and they are all but invisible for the European public. Climate change and environmental challenges are among the most important issues determining the future of the MENA region, and our relationships with the MENA. Issues like water management and pollution are directly related to conflict and a lack of economic perspectives. GMOP wanted to visualize the action on the ground, so it developed a mapping with nearly 200 of these ‘builders and sowers’: individuals, organisations, businesses and initiatives working for a sustainable green environment.

Our original plan was to present the mapping to Dutch stakeholders and interested public, during a roundtable discussion and a public event. Because of Covid-19, we decided to organise two online roundtable meetings instead. We also made a short video that we distribute among our network.

On 27 and 29 May, we presented our mapping of Green initiatives in the MENA region during Zoom meetings, to a diverse group of Dutch stakeholders, representing NGOs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and entrepreneurs.

We discussed the circumstances MENA activists work in, and possibilities for partnerships with Dutch partners. Professor Talhouk from Lebanon and Bashar Humeid, social entrepreneur from Jordan, both shared their views on priorities and best practices in international cooperation. They agreed that to have real impact, cooperation should be long term, and always in close consultation with communities involved. The discussions emphasized that sustainable and green solutions for environmental problems in the MENA will involve many different sectors: private and public, NGOs and local communities, education and governance.

GMOP will continue to further develop the mapping. In the coming year we want to make green partnerships central in foreign policies on development and trade.

This is the video we made about Green MENA initiatives.

This is the article we published about the subject.

Written by: Sylva van Rosse

het Grote Midden Oosten Platform (The Greater Middle East Platform– GMOP) aims to bridge the gap between the Netherlands and countries in the Middle East. It offers a nuanced and human perspective of societies and citizens in the wider Middle East region. The Platform is independent and brings together a diverse range of Dutch Middle East experts. It offers advice and expertise, and it initiates and facilitates debates. More information about services and activities can be found on our website: