For the first time in the history of UNFCCC negotiations an Arab COP has officially begun. Qatar, of the rich Persian Gulf, is hosting the 18th Conference of Parties. A lot is at stake in these 2 weeks and we are all expecting the Presidency and the Parties to deliver a successful, balanced outcome that will ensure climate action pre and post 2020. Our eyes are on Qatar and all the other Arab countries as negotiating Parties.
The COP not only brought the climate debate into this climate vulnerable Arab peninsula, but also stimulated the newly established Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM). ECO easily spotted many of them in the hallways, and they had a message for their countries; “Arabs: It's time to lead!”
The Arab world is feeling the grave impacts of climate change with droughts, decreased precipitation and floods. They have, however, not planned major shifts away from business as usual, let alone put climate change on their political agenda nor do they demonstrate willingness to take action internationally. The Arab spring has created a platform for social change, youth engagement and social change. It has in turn brought a climate spring and many young activists who will be strongly calling on their governments to provide mitigation/adaptation strategies to combat and reduce climate change impacts.
The AYCM has set out to create a generation-wide movement across the Middle East and North Africa, driven by over 20 national coordinators spread across 15 MENA countries, and aims to make its presence felt from the Gulf to the Atlantic. They are here to play their role in the struggle to solve the climate crisis and will be engaging their delegates, carrying out actions and organising side events in order to influence the positions of Arab governments in the negotiations and beyond. More than one hundred Arab youth are here and pushing for greater ambition across the board. They want their countries to do their part and tell the world in Doha, take action before 2020 and work for a legally binding agreement to ensure a safe climate future in the Arab world.