It’s been almost 2 weeks since the conclusion of the Arab Youth Climate Movement workshop — organized at the Wadi Environmental Science Center in Cairo, Egypt — and I’m still reeling from all the excitement!
A collaboration between 350.org, IndyACT, CAN, GCCA, the DEMENA Climate Ambassadors in Egypt and the Heinrich Böll Foundation made it possible to bring 20 inspiring youth activists from 13 different Arab-speaking countries — Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates — for a 5-day workshop, to plan, share and build a powerful regional climate movement.
Organizing such a workshop meant overcoming many logistical challenges, brought about by the diverse political realities of countries in the Arab World. One Tunisian applicant was hospitalized after being caught up in intense clashes in her city, while another Palestinian activist couldn’t get his visa on time due to strict security regulations. The Syrian applicant couldn’t make it to the workshop due to heavy fighting on the streets of his city, but despite the turbulent situation he is still in contact with us and is adamant on getting youth in his country involved with the Arab Youth Climate Movement.
AbdulGader, the Libyan participant, almost didn’t make it to the workshop when his flight was grounded at Tripoli airport after a sudden indefinite flight ban was imposed. He finally arrived in Cairo on the second day of the workshop with such enthusiasm and commitment that it was hard to imagine how the workshop would have been without him.
At the workshop the youth planned the future of their regional network — the “Arab Youth Climate Movement” — and learned to share their stories to build the movement; organize actions and campaigns; plan ahead strategically and draft a theory for change for their region, which revealed their acutely insightful understanding of the important role the Arab region plays on the climate front. Most importantly, they bonded with each other, felt inspired to take action and left the workshop with the responsibility of building a strong regional movement to tackle the most serious crisis facing humanity. Their dedication has been an immense source of inspiration. They are already gearing up to organize an Arab Day of Climate Action on November 3rd, in the lead up to COP18 in Qatar.
What is also inspiring is that 584 applicants applied to this workshop — breaking the record for most applicants to any climate workshop that 350.org has been involved in organizing! This just goes to prove that youth in the Arab World are eager to take a leading role in turning the tide on climate change.
I look forward to supporting the Arab Youth Climate Movement as it pushes for a new future for the Arab World, and a safe one for our planet.
Get to know the incredible youth leading the AYCM here.