Environment, climate change low priority for young Arabs
Global climate change ranks almost bottom of a list of concerns for young Arabs across the Middle East and North Africa, according to findings in the eighth annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2016.
Of the 27 key issues raised in the Survey, concerns over “climate change and the environment” placed at 26, above only “personal debt”. “The rise of Daesh” resonated the most with young people and was listed as their top-most concern. Just 54 per cent of young Arabs cited “climate change and the environment” being of concern, compared with 77 per cent of respondents for “the rise of Daesh”.
In the shadow of the 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22), held in Marrakech, Morocco, from November 7-18, 2016, the Survey’s findings suggest the UN still has much to do to encourage Arab Youth throughout the Middle East to become engaged with the environmental agenda.
The Survey shows a marked geographic variation over the level of concern: in the GCC, for example, 51 per cent of young Arabs said they were not concerned about the environment and climate change. In North Africa, however, youth appear to be more engaged on the issue, as 65 per cent of young people there expressed concern over the issue. In the COP22 host country, 70 per cent of young Moroccans said climate change was a concern.
Arab youth are also ambivalent about their leaderships’ ability to tackle climate change. When asked how confident they were in their national government’s ability to deal with climate change, the percentage of young people in the GCC who expressed belief in their country’s leadership was very high, at 78 per cent, against 50 per cent for all Arabs, and just 36 per cent for young Arabs in North Africa and 29 per cent for youth in the Levant.
“It is clearly worrying that young Arabs put such a low priority on climate change - something that has the potential to have a major impact on the Arab world,” said Sunil John, Founder and CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller. “From the Sahara encroaching on farmland in North Africa; this year’s heatwave in Iraq and the huge carbon footprints of GCC states, climate change and threats to the environment pose a very real danger to the region’s future.
“While it is encouraging that youth in North Africa are taking the issue seriously, more needs to be done to get the message across to young people in the wealthier Gulf states that climate change is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.” Now in its eighth year, the ASDA’A BursonMarsteller Arab Youth Survey has established itself as a key referral source for businesses and policymakers across the world. For the 2016 survey, international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews with exclusively Arab national men and women aged 18-24 in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain; as well as Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Yemen. The interviews were conducted from January 20 to February 12, 2016. In-depth results from the eighth Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2016, including survey highlights and a White Paper in Arabic and English, are available at www.arabyouthsurvey.com.