Articles News & Interviews Books Editorials Home
      اللغة العربية    
Editor in Chief - Environment And Development
Secretary General - AFED
About Gallery Videos Contact
Selected Editorials

Green economy and freedom


Green economy and freedom


Najib Saab


October 2011, Al-BiaWal-Tanmia (Environment and Development)

Less than two months after the decision of the board of trustees of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED), a year ago, to select "Green Economy" as the theme for the 2011annual report, uprisings broke up in the region as part of what was termed the Arab Spring. We decided, then, that the report should focus on how Green Economy can help move the Arab World towards an innovative development direction that enhances the social order and provides sustainability and stability for the environment and the economy alike, because the future projections remain unpromising in the three domains.


Political reforms should hopefully put an end to administrative corruption and mismanagement of natural resources. Governments that are more representative of their peoples need to act with stronger political resolve towards the management of natural resources and protection of the environment, thus allowing the most representative people to have a say in policy decision-making. Thus, improved governance shall definitely reflect positively on the environment and natural resources management.


Despite high oil revenues, Arab economies are experiencing structural problems in the presence of fragile political systems, preventing them from effectively shifting to Green Economy. These economies are still undiversified and totally dependent on oil and other non-value-added commodities. Moreover, current development trends limit the abilities of Arab Governments to create more rewarding jobs in an area where the unemployment rate among the youth is more than twice that of the world rate.


Population changes in the region pose great challenges: Population grew from 100 million, in 1960, to nearly 400 million in 2012, 60 percent of whom are under 25. Therefore, demand for food, water, housing, education, transport, electricity and other municipal services, shall inevitably rise. On the other hand, the Arab region is drifting toward a water disaster in just a few years, and climate change shall aggravate the risks of water scarcity and food shortages. The Arab states are also required to contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions through improved energy efficiency, cleaner use of oil and gas and wider application of renewable energies.


As a matter of fact, facing these challenges with the transition to a green economy is not only a choice for the Arab region, but rather a requirement to ensure attainment of sustainable development.


The comprehensive report on Green Economy options in Arab countries represents the first phase of AFED's initiative in this domain. More than a hundred experts participated in the work, and draft papers were discussed at consultation meetings across the Arab world, leading to the publication of the final report and presentation to AFED's annual conference in October 2011. The report aims at urging and helping governments and business sectors to shift to Green Economy. It proposes government policies, economic models, green investment opportunities and innovative solutions. The second phase of the initiative involves transforming the recommendations into application, through performing pilot green projects with the participation of national institutions.


hopes that the report shall contribute to the introduction and application of Green Economy concepts in the Arab region, including influencing the development of adequate institutional and policy reforms. The objectives of the report shall be fulfilled when it succeeds in communicating information, bringing about some changes in government policies and encouraging private sector investments in Green Economy to promote sustainable development in the Arab world.


Under the prevailing atmosphere of uprisings, Arabs meet in Beirut this month at the AFED Conference, to discuss a future with green policies for the achievement of sustainable development along with freedom and stability. Those two do not contradict, as freedom is rather a prerequisite to real development.




Arab Environment in 10 Years
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.
Environmental Agenda
Environment in Arab Media
News & Interviews Photo Gallery Videos