As I sit outside feeling the warmth on a supposedly winter morning wondering why there has been no rainfall as expected, I notice that these are visible signs of climate change impacts and Mother Nature is calling out for urgent recovery. As human behaviors have desensitized toward Earth's climate, a road to its recovery is necessary with the collaboration of government agencies, policymakers, private sector leaders, financial institutions, key stakeholders, and the future change-makers: young people.
I attended the first-ever Middle East and North Africa Regional Climate Week (MENACW) 2022 held from March 28 - March 31, which concluded with fundamental key messages to bring forward to COP27. The goal of the meeting was to accelerate multidisciplinary and multi-generational collaboration, integrate climate action into global pandemic recovery, and pivot the implementation of the Glasgow Climate Pact and Paris Agreement.
The MENA Climate Week opened space for discussions and presentations under three main thematic topics: raising ambition, tradition meets modernity, and accelerating implementation in this critical decade. I was honored to listen and engage with key stakeholders in valuable discussions on such a pressing topic.
Throughout these various dialogue sessions, the recurring call for adapting multidisciplinary approaches, innovative practices and localized actions to combat climate change has truly inspired me on a personal level that today it’s the youth’s time to shine as the action takers in this space. Young people lead the way for a modern change. We have to be seen not only as the future leaders as we are often described, but also as action takers that are vitally active today to build further stability in the climate and water sector. Young people are the innovative thinkers needed to tackle this crisis and the way to achieve multidisciplinary and localized actions!
The discussions I attended also reaffirmed my confidence that water is the responsive element to combating climate change. As the COP26 Regional Ambassador for Middle East and Africa, Janet Rogan, highlighted: “The MENA region is very stressed for water. So, water and agriculture, and how we use them well, are going to be key subjects at COP27. At the same time, it is really important that the youth, civil society and communities are part of designing the work and the priorities as we go ahead.”
Water acts as the common denominator. In order to respond to climate change, the water sector must be sustained as it affects several other sectors like the environment, agriculture, government, and climate. Working on water can give us the opportunity to work in multidisciplinary and innovative approaches to ensure future climate stability. As part of my experience with youth in the water sector, I was humbled to be a panelist among key speakers in the session “Strengthening the enabling environment to tackle water scarcity and build climate resilience in MENA”. It was empowering to have had the opportunity to voice young people’s challenges in the water sector and to represent the importance of their engagement. To keep the youth’s momentum thriving, they need to be offered a supported structure of inclusion: it's not enough to have the voice itself, but what is more important is for them to be heard.
As the Water Innovation Labs (WIL) Program Coordinator at Waterlution, it is absolutely empowering to see Waterlution acting as a catalyst to support youth engagement in an effort to combat climate change through innovative water solutions. As part of my role, I am keen to inspire youth leadership and innovation by equipping young people with the skills that best serve them to become community leaders, proactive communicators, system thinkers, and problem-solvers.
Climate change is everyone’s responsibility and action should be taken starting today! Moving forward, I hope to see young people given the space as actors and not as observers; to be the leaders of today - not just of tomorrow!