Workshop: Climate Change in the MENA region
Rabat Workshop - September 10-11, 2011

Workshop in Rabat 
10th-11th of September 2011

Climate change presents clear and present challenges to the social, political, and economic well being of North Africa and the Middle East  (MENA). There is broad consensus on this point; however, there are significant variations from country to country about what addressing these challenges entails.  The region exists as a number of unique matrices of geography, energy, security, and resource management for which there are not yet coherent policies at all the necessary levels of domestic and transnational governance.  A deeper and more sophisticated body of knowledge regarding the unique challenges facing the region must be developed in tandem with development of clearer political will, so that regional actors may progress down the path of informed, proactive adaptation.  The alternative is a more costly path of deferred and impromptu reactions when environmental changes can no longer be ignored.
Regional Overview: Geography, Climate, and Environmental Issues
The majority of the land in MENA is arid or semi-arid dryland.  Rainfall is highly variable but overall tends to be scarce—52% of the region receives less than 100mm per year.  Some areas, such as parts of Syria, receive as much as 1,500mm annually, though the rate of loss in all parts of MENA due to evaporation and runoff is quite high.   The northern regions of Algeria, Libya and Egypt, as well as the bulk of Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, and Iran are arid and semi-arid.  Vast swathes of Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and the Persian Gulf states are classified as “hyper-arid” and are unsuitable for agriculture.  These hyper-arid regions are ill-suited for habitation and have very low population density, though ‘desertified’ and some hyper-arid areas can be made available for human use through targeted rehabilitation and management schemes.  Iraq, Lebanon and Syria are considered water-abundant.

Though scientific consensus is elusive regarding how much and where precipitation is expected to decrease due to climate change, there is broad consensus that rainfall will decrease throughout MENA.  Any decrease poses an unequivocal problem for this already water-scarce region.  This is in addition to as-yet undetermined changes in the frequency, intensity, and seasonal predictability of rainfall.  The UN Convention to Combat Desertification has identified drylands as ecosystems in which the challenges of climate change are most intimately linked to food security and poverty reduction.   Currently, four MENA countries are consuming more than 100% of their renewable water resources each year and are dependent upon external sources to fulfill the remaining need.  Water resource management and access are key players in the food security, economic security, and political interactions of all who live in this region.  Yemen’s environmental ministry estimates that over 7 million hectares have desertified, with up to 97% of its land currently having been significantly degraded.

Nearly every MENA state borders at least one sea or ocean and to varying degrees will be affected by rising sea levels.  The IPCC predicts a rise between 30cm and 1m for the Mediterranean over the next century ; the majority of human habitation and economic activity is near coastlines, and as the ocean level moves upward countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia can expect human displacement into the tens of millions of people.  Furthermore, a rise in sea level reduces hectares of arable land and increases salinity in remaining arable land and groundwater supplies.  In Egypt, which is likely to experience some of the most dramatic changes due to sea-level rise, a rise of .5m would displace 3.8 million people and damage 1800km2 of agricultural and industrial land concentrated along the Delta.   Rising waters along with increased intensity of storm surges is expected to harm Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia’s tourist industries and to create highly significant human displacement.

Desertification has been underway in many parts of MENA for decades.  This loss of arable land is due primarily to human activity such as overgrazing, deforestation, and erosion due to certain types of agriculture.  Drylands are particularly sensitive to human use and require skilled management to be utilized sustainably.  Without mitigation efforts and improvements in land management the advance of desertification will exacerbate other effects of climate change such as those described above.  Much of the current information on desertification is based on empirical observation and incomplete data collection.  There is consensus that land degradation and desertification is spreading, but to what extent and in which areas is difficult to pinpoint until more reliable data collection is in place.

The economies of most MENA states are resource-dependent, with environmental ramifications from current resource extraction techniques.  In addition to petroleum-related activity, Egypt derives 15% of its GDP from mining for gold, natural gas, phosphates, and petroleum.  Morocco contains 75% of the world’s phosphate reserves, and has one of the world’s largest sand-mining operations.  As a result, ecosystems along the coast are degrading with significant detrimental effects on the health of wetland systems.   Pollution from mineral extraction (along with increasing industrialization and urbanization) throughout the MENA is diminishing water quality and availability.

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Transition in Tunisia - Towards a New Citizenship

The concept of citizenship, beyond the mere legal character, is becoming the social dynamic driving individuals to participate in the construction of a democratic society. No one-is able to predict what model of citizenship the current transformations in Arab countries will lead to. In the Arab world the question of citizenship is an ongoing and endless debate. Because it is linked to rights, the modern concept of citizenship has been framed within a legal character

American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford (AMENDS)

April 10-14, 2012

The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law together with the American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford (AMENDS) present the inaugural summit convening 40 delegates from across the Middle East and North America at Stanford University April 10-14, 2012.


These inspirational young leaders will be sharing their innovative work with the Stanford community and be joined by special guest speakers from the Middle East commenting on timely topics emerging from the region.

Democratic Transition and Development in the Arab World

April 26-27, 2012

The Program on Arab Reform and Democracy (ARD) at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law has held its third annual conference


Migrations and Social Movements in the Arab World

Paris, 27-28 of June.
The chaire d’histoire du Monde arabe contemporain at Collège de France together with the Moulay Hicham Foundation have organised a workshop on the theme : Migrations and Social Movements in the Arab World.

It explored migration issues through the lens of the social movements that are shaking the region.



Workshop on the Arab Spring Revolutions

November 18-19, 2011
Participants: Olivier Roy, Amaney Jamal, Farhad Khosrokhavar, Teije Donker, Virginie Collombier, Sari Hanafi, Marwa Daoudy, Rabab El Mahdi, Ellen Lust, Carol Hakim, Bernard Haykel

Two themes and sets of questions were covered in this workshop that relate to the political developments of the “Arab Spring.”

'From Political Activism to Democratic Change in the Arab World'

This conference focused on empowering political activism in the Arab world, and features scholars and activists discussing the achievements of and challenges facing political activists in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia


Annual Conference of the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL)

Stanford University May 12-13, 2011 Bechtel Conference Center, Stanford University


Thursday May 12, 2011

8:30-9:00 Welcome


9:00-9:45 Opening Speech Activism in the Middle East: A Framework Ellen Lust, Yale University


9:45-10:15 Break


10:15-12:15 Tunisia and Egypt Chair: Ellen Lust, Yale University Toward a Second Republic in Tunisia Christopher Alexander, Davidson


College Political Activism of Everyday Life: Lessons from the Tunisian Revolution Nabiha Jerad


Tunisia Factors Leading to the Egyptian Revolution; Where are We Now?Ahmed Salah, Egypt


Discussant: Michele Dunne, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace






The Gulf Chair: Larry Diamond, Stanford University The 2011 Uprising in Bahrain and its Consequences on the Participative Institutions Laurence Louër, Sciences Po


Activism in Bahrain and the Struggle for Reform? Maryam Al Khawaja, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights


Saudi Arabia: The Impossible Revolution? Stéphane Lacroix, Sciences Po


Challenges to Realistic Political Reforms in Yemen Munir Mawari, Yemen






Syria and Lebanon Chair: Lina Khatib, Stanford University


Activism and the Orphan Reform in Lebanon, Ziad Majed, American University of Paris


Syria from Political Activism to Popular Uprising: A Roadmap to Democracy Radwan Ziadeh, George Washington University


Discussant: Daniel Brumberg, Georgetown University


Friday May 13, 2011


Palestine Chair: Khalil Barhoum, Stanford University


Pretending Palestine is Normal Nathan Brown, George Washington University


Palestine: The Non-violent Popular Struggle for Freedom and the Future of Democracy Mustafa Barghouti, MP, Palestine


10:30-11:00 Break



Jordan and Morocco Chair: Hicham Ben Abdallah, Stanford University


A Decade of Struggling Reform Efforts in Jordan: The Resilience of the Rentier System Marwan Muasher, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Assessing Current Public Perceptions of Political Activism Development in Jordan Amer Bani Amer, Al-Hayat Center for Civil Society Development


Morocco: Activist Revival vs. Autocratic Resilience Ahmed Benchemsi, Stanford University


Discussant: Sean Yom, Temple University




Lunch 2:00-4:00


Concluding Roundtable Discussion and Reflections Chair: Larry Diamond, Stanford University