Home Trends S1: Webinar – Climate Justice in West Asia

S1: Webinar – Climate Justice in West Asia

by smart

[Music] all right perfect hi everyone um this is our conclusive webinar for our first series on the agile podcast um i’ll just give a quick run of show for our audience um just the like we know what’s happening um we’ll just give a brief introduction to youth for nature i think and i presume that most of our audience knows um or they know uh youth for nature then we give a quick introduction to the agile podcast why did we come up with this podcast what’s the purpose of it and then we’ll just give a very quick reminder of the topics and that we discussed with our guests here on the agile podcast our first series climate justice in west asia and then ranyan master will be giving 15 to 20 minutes of an elaborative discussion on the issue of climate justice in west asia and then we’ll jump directly to the discussion which should last about 30 minutes and so all of this should take about 40 to 50 minutes maximum and this is meant for you the audience to come up have an open discussion with our guests and with an expert on the topic so that we can talk about this issue much more because it’s very needed in our region especially by youth all right so there’s nothing new to learn here of course we’re going to learn together by discussing but there’s nothing to be presented um a specific year right this is about you the audience having the chance to discuss this further because we know that this topic is you know it’s a or all of these topics that we discuss are kind of hot topics in our region and people like to bring them like they like to bring them up more often um so youth for nature youthful nature is a youth-led um climate-focused ngo based in british columbia and canada and we focus on three main pillars or three main topics nature-based solutions we focus on indigenous rights to nature which has a lot to do with what we’re going to talk about today and lastly the topic of climate justice and part of this is that we’re trying to create a generation that is able to or we’re trying to create youth who can be leaders and stewards for nature this is what we’re trying to do through knowledge sharing through storytelling and through capacity building the agile podcast is part of our knowledge sharing pillar at youth for nature and we decided to host this podcast to discuss specifically youth priorities and the nature and climate space so what do you think regarding policies for nature and climate in west asia specifically what do they demand what are the challenges that they face whether it’s social or environmental and what is their call to action for decision makers around the arab world but also on a global level this is a space for youth to discuss this to discuss this very openly regarding the topics that we think are a bit sensitive but need to be discussed further all right and so we just we we came up with our first series climate justice in west asia and we began our first episode with allah and lama and we spoke about the effect of militarization in syria and yemen on climate movements because we see a lot of climate movements around the world greta is all over sweden she is she’s doing all the riots what what’s happening in west asia we want to know what’s happening here where are the youth of west asia why aren’t they being able to have that momentum that greta has in europe or others in north america or in or in the western world what are the challenges specifically the social challenges that they are facing there are you know not allowing them to have that big momentum they need to have so that’s why we had this we spoke about militarization in syria and yemen and then um we had nishad nishad what uh or nishad and i spoke about is there a balance between oil and economic growth in the gulf region and climate action we know that the regimes in the arabian gulf don’t allow or don’t foster that youth expression on the ground of demands especially for climate justice we know that there are ambitious actions or plans being taken by the government but we want to hear what youth have to say what kind of criticism to have or what kind of ambitions do they have personally and you know we also focus on green washing so you know we we know that a lot of oil companies they’re promoting tree growth somewhere or tree planting in some parts of the world but at the same time they’re still burning fossil fuels so where’s the balance here you know which is something we call green washing or co-option and then the last episode we had with suha from al-haq organization in palestine is not here with us today but we spoke about the palestinians struggle mainly and how occupation is denying the palestinian the ability to achieve climate justice specifically in palestine because that is at the heart of climate justice in west asia the palestinians rugged so those were the topics of the climate justice series and yeah if all right let me before we go to to rania maybe all of our guests who were with us on the podcast could give a 30 second introduction to themselves uh just because like i couldn’t do that so let’s start with allah we’ll go back and then we go to lama nishad and then you can take the floor and begin all right allah can you please introduce your yourself in 30 seconds okay thank you uh hi everyone uh i’m alan from yemen i work as a global ambassador for west asia in youth for nature and i’m happy to be with all of you here thank you hi everyone uh this is lamar andrews i am the middle east ambassador for water science policy and a member of aycm syria very nice to be with you today [Music] hi i’m michelle i’m the executive director and co-founder of arab youth climate in qatar and also steering committee of global shapers climate and environment as well as unesco steering committee for youth on climate change great to have you all today all right rania the floor is yours okay well it’s good to be with you all uh let me briefly introduce myself just to tell you who i am i’m a trained political ecologist so i look at environmental issues within the framework of political ecology which is a different framework to use than looking at simply environmental issues from an uh you know a neoliberal economic perspective or from a strict science perspective a political ecology framework recognizes the deep linkages deep links between science and public health and economics and political science so on and so forth i also led the regional work by regional i mean specifically the arab region on environmental justice research and you can see our work on ejattlist.com sorry ejattlist.org and our work has been translated into arabic and turkish and numerous other languages as well so thank you for inviting me to this webinar and i’m thrilled that youth for nature actually has these three pillars nature-based solutions indigenous rights to nature and climate justice because actually the first two pillars are the solution for the third one if we take nature-based solutions and we recognize indigenous rights to nature then we would be on the right path to actually resolving the climate injustices that we have so i’m thrilled that youth for nature actually has has those pillars but this specific webinar is to look at climate justice in west asia i’m thrilled also that you’ve used the term west asia and not the very uh problematic orientalist term of the middle east so thank you for not using the term amina so when we use the term climate justice what is it that we actually want those of us that are from west asia those of us that are concerned with this region what does that term actually mean to us what is even the term climate action mean to us i’m going to use a very non-controversial individual in quoting climate justice and that non-controversial individual is mary robinson who is no stranger in the world of politics or human rights and is internationally recognized and as well as being the former president of very dear ireland she defines climate justice and i quote climate justice insists on a shift from a discourse on greenhouse gases and melting ice caps into a civil rights movement with the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts so if that is a mainstream definition of climate justice what that what does it actually mean then when we look at climate action and how do we then organize for climate justice within our regions so what actually is climate action are we working to raise awareness for the sole effect of raising awareness what is the objective of raising awareness and within what situation do we strive to raise awareness i’ll give you a really bad example of climate action there was one of the um climate movement organizations in lebanon several years ago and they were striving to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change on lebanon the first mistake that they did is they falsely presented information they claimed that climate change would cause a sea level rise in betrothed and there is absolutely no evidence that climate change will cause a sea level rise in peru it could cause enormous desert storms enormous storms that would put the uh depression that that used to take place on the the northwestern united states and the midwestern united states that was discussed uh very powerfully in in numerous pieces of literature by john steinbeck it would put that to shame possibly but there is no uh research about sea level so there was that one problem that they did but more fundamentally at a time when lebanon was going through um immense political and economic turmoil nothing even like the dangers that we’re going through now here comes an organization that wants us to raise awareness about climate change by talking about what could happen in the future regarding sea level when currently at that time we were running out of water so there was a complete disconnect here and there is a further issue which is you want at least this organization wanted us to raise awareness on climate change even though lebanon is one of the victims and is not one of the guilty parties so what would it mean for countries that are facing the injustice of climate change to be held responsible as if we were the main culprits behind climate change so what are we actually raising awareness for and i’m thrilled diane that you brought up greenwashing in your introduction because we had another environmental organization that actually took money from coca-cola in lebanon to plant trees and the environmental organizations that i work with were appalled at this because coca-cola is notorious for stealing water from indigenous communities as well as is notorious for killing union organizers in colombia so in no way should we participate in any kind of greenwashing or whitewashing with such a repulsive organization so what exactly are we raising awareness for the other question is okay within climate action are we working on mitigation or are we working on adaptation and there’s a huge difference between the two as i’m sure you are you are all aware climate change mitigation involves tackling the causes and possibly minimizing the impacts of climate change but we have to tackle the causes of climate change versus climate change adaptation looks at reducing the negative effects that climate change will have so then what do we do in the region which one do we focus on and then of course that goes back to who are we in the region because west asia is a huge plot of land we’re talking about very diverse countries so the answer to do we work on climate change mitigation or climate change adaptation in my opinion depends do you consider yourself part of the global north or part of the global south because we have pockets of the global north and west asia as well as we have larger pockets of the global south in west asia so what are the challenges facing us in west asia what are the challenges that we have okay what do we know about climate change in west asia we know that at best this is the good case scenario rainfall will dramatically decline we’ve seen this happen in syria with seven to eight years of consecutive drought that contributed to massive problems in agriculture that then further contributed to massive problems in economics all of which were magnified of course by a neoliberal economic plan that the syrian government had imposed so we know that climate change has already contributed to a decline in rainfall leading to an increase in drought we know also that climate change will increase desertification throughout the region and we know of course that climate change will make the gloriously warm temperatures in the arabian gulf a little bit more hellish than they already are and i’m saying this is somebody who was raised in in bahrain and we used to joke in bahrain that we have three seasons spring summer and hell so the season of hell in bahrain would definitely be enlarged but these are the best case scenarios of climate change that we are living in today but another critical aspect of climate change particularly for those of us who are concerned about the justice aspect of it is that climate change is a multiplier it makes every negative challenge you have in your country worse so we have a public health crisis it will magnify the public health crisis because we know of the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on public health we have a water crisis which we have throughout the region some of the some of the causes of our water crisis in west asia are environmental and many of the causes of the water crisis in our in our region are actually economic and political but climate change will make that a lot worse we’re having tensions among individuals it will make that a lot worse and we’re not even talking here about the many glorious non-human animals with whom we are blessed to share this earth with and we rarely talk about the non-human animals what will be the multiplier effect on them given that we have massively decreased biodiversity around the world and so climate change will also have an impact on that so we are dealing with dramatic impacts of climate change on our region i’m sure many of us know that but what else do we know about the region we have countries that have been devastated by war we look at yemen we look at iraq we look at syria we also have countries that are currently still devastated by occupation and apartheid and here i mean the historic lands of palestine and by historic lands i am referring to all of palestine i do not consider palestine to be simply the west bank in east jerusalem and gaza but all the lands of palestine that are suffering from more than 70 years of occupation and apartheid we have that happening in one part of our region we also and we need to recognize this we have other countries in our region that are actively supporting those war crimes we know that the united arab emirates and bahrain have open support of israel which means that they are then complicit in the occupation and apartheid of uh palestinians we also know that the united arab emirates and saudi arabia are leading and i’m being very conservative in my language here leading the war against yemen so of course they are also then complicit in that war crime and let me not even begin about the involvement of many countries in the region in the war on syria so here again we have situations where we have the victims and the victimizers okay and of course i’m not in any way um excusing the palestinian authority for their crimes or excusing the other regimes in the country for their crimes but we need to recognize we have wars that are being imposed on people in the region by other people in the region we also have a vast difference in per capita consumption so while we have countries along the eastern mediterranean that are facing increased poverty while of course we still have the uber rich in the country that as anywhere in the world the uber rich continue to get rich while the poor continue to get poorer and the middle class gets decimated we also have some of the highest per capita consumptions in the world in our region some of the highest ecological footprints in the world in our region qatar kuwait oman bahrain saudi arabia united arab emirates have very high ecological footprints so then when we go back to adaptation and mitigation it cannot be the same solution throughout the region because we are vastly different and then there’s the bigger question can we even mitigate or adapt within our current economic systems and unfortunately the vast majority of the world with the exception of a few countries in south america pockets of a few other systems around the world but the vast majority of the countries in the world suffer under the same economic system the neo-liberal capitalist economic system can we even seek to adapt and to mitigate within this capitalistic system and i argue absolutely not because capitalism is by design built on the concept of constant growth constant growth which is a constant concept that violates the laws of thermodynamics so those of us that are ecologists those of us that recognize that recognizes the value of science we must therefore recognize the irrationality of capitalism because we cannot have an economic system that is designed on constant growth within an environmental world that is built along finite growth it simply violates the laws of thermodynamics we have another problem with capitalism which is it is built on the concept of disposability we dispose of people within the capitalistic system because there is a certain percentage of humans that have to remain unemployed so that we can continue to profit off their labor more importantly we regard all aspects of environmental pollution as simple externalities we throw it out and the only means of measurements between individuals is the profit measure okay while we continue to make more and to make more and to make more this is the capitalistic design and this is exactly what has been the lead contributor and the lead cause of climate change is capitalism so can we seek to mitigate within the same economic system can we seek to mitigate or to adapt within the political systems that we have in our region our political systems throughout the region with absolutely no exception are non-democratic we do not have equality among citizens we do not have respect for our citizens and all our residents because all the people need to be respected nor do we have real respect for the earth and the other biotic species that live with us so within this political system can we even work our way forward toward mitigation and adaptation and if your answer is like mine which is no this economic system and this political system cannot be pathways forward if we really want to transform the destruction that has been caused over the past 100 plus years the question then becomes how do we do climate action that is truly transformative and that builds a different economy and a different politics and a different way of thinking a completely different perception do we have that courage to be so imaginative where we build forward and we build something vastly different than capitalism or are we simply going to limit our imagination to what kinds of trees can we plant with more drought and how do we use less water and how do we recycle plastic which of course becomes one of the the biggest acts of greenwashing this concept of recycling plastic and we can talk about that later i was asked to also talk about the relationship between militarism and capitalism or actually militarism and climate change but they are one of the same in a region that has been devastated by wars and i i want to say this for the record that our region is not an exception i wish that we were special i wish that we were exceptional with regards to the horrors that we have faced but quite unfortunately we are not exceptional we can look at the horrors that the communities throughout south america have faced for hundreds of years and the greater horrors that communities throughout continental africa have faced and continue to face for hundreds of years and as our colleagues in north america know the indigenous communities of canada are still facing horrors because they are still uncovering mass graves of their children you know recognizing that these children are still until today victims of colonization in canada okay so i just want to put that up front that we arabs are not exceptional uh not as being victims of occupation or victims of sectarianism or victims of colonialism or victims of apartheid we are not exceptional nor are we exceptional in ourselves being perpetrators of colonialism and apartheid and occupation so with that in mind how do we look at militarism with the exception of civil wars and not all civil wars with the exception of some civil wars every single external war every single war every single armed conflict outside of one’s national borders have been designed for the exploitation of resources period so therefore militarism cannot be separated from the economic system itself it simply cannot they they become militarism becomes the arm of capitalism we see this exquisitely exquisitely clear by the united states which is the only country whose currency is not supported by gold because it is backed by their army that is present around the world so we see this intricate relationship between militarism and capitalism which then leads us to argue that if we really want to work for climate justice then we have to be anti-militaristic which means we have to be anti-imperialist not only to be anti-capitalist but also anti-imperialist and anti-militarism which also means we have to be anti-sanctions and i say this because there are sanctions right now being imposed on syria there are different kinds of sanctions being imposed on yemen and of course there are sanctions being imposed on libya of course there are also sanctions being imposed on venezuela in cuba and other parts of the world and sanctions have become this new tactic presented as a diplomatic tactic which is nothing other than collective punishment of a population in order to get a change in their governmental policy and that change in the governmental policy has nothing to do with democracy and human rights and everything to do with further exploitation of resources so i’m throwing all of these issues together because they are together they are connected okay so even if we are going to be working on adaptation in our region and one clear way of working for adaptation in our region is shifting our agricultural system and developing an agricultural system that is really based on ecological mindfulness which means we know what to plant and we know when to plant it and we know with what to plant it so we step away from monoculture we step back into agroecology and we recognize that our climate is changing and we resurrect our indigenous plants okay how do we do that within the same economic system how do we do that in iraq for example and iraq which was the the real basket of the world which is where wheat was originally found how do we allow iraqi farmers to recognize the mass genetic diversity that is present and that is still found in seed banks uh particularly the seed bank in aleppo okay so that they can replant the proper kind of wheats how do we do that within an economic system that is pushing seeds from monsanto which are predominantly terminal seeds and suicide seeds that push for a monoculture system so here we have a relationship between liberating our agriculture is tied to liberating our economy we have numerous other examples with regards to planting that we need to be looking at we also have examples regarding to public health if we are working on adaptation what does that mean today when we are facing a pandemic the covet pandemic and we know for a fact without a shred of doubt as has been revealed by numerous scientists and numerous epidemiologists that the covet pandemic is caused by an evolutionary breakdown it is directly linked to the kind of agriculture that we have been participating in and directly linked to the destruction of biodiversity that we are all culprits of and all guilty of in various degrees so here we are seeing one consequence of our environmental destruction which is the covet pandemic but we are also seeing something else happening during the covet pandemic which is this kind of vaccine nationalism in its most ugly form and the way forward with regards to the covet pandemic is to internationalize the vaccine to make sure that the vaccine is available to all countries and not to have the vaccine being available as it is now where we have certain countries having a higher percentage of vaccination and other countries not getting anything vaccinated so what i’m saying here is there’s a direct relationship between public health which means public health to be available and provided for all the residents and citizens without exception there’s a direct relationship between public health as an adaptation to climate change because we know what climate change will do to our public health we know of the risks of climate change to our public health but there is a relationship between public health and pharmaceutical lobbying and economic systems there is that relationship so how do we adapt our public health system to make it egalitarian to make it just to make it available for all without liberating our economy from the pharmaceutical lobbyist how do we do that if you have an answer to that that would be great you know but how do we learn from the failure the failure of worldwide negotiations on the covet pandemic in building our negotiations forward with regards to climate change given that the big difference between climate change and covet is there is no vaccine for climate change and there is a vaccine for coven so these are some ways that we can talk about adaptation but what about mitigation there’s there’s a difference and there there’s um two viewpoints scientifically um several years ago i mean back when i was teaching climate change at the university of balaman this was six seven years ago there were a group of scientists that were arguing that we have reached the tipping point that we have already reached the tipping point if we’re going to take that scientific evidence forward then we’re past the point of no return on mitigation if we’re going to say okay no we still have some time left and perhaps maybe we can mitigate forward then what would that mitigation actually look like are we going to stop using our cars and start using electric cars is that our method of mitigation which is instead of eating with my right hand i eat with my left hand because what do electric cars run on electricity and what is electricity fueled by so what are we actually doing you know shall we continue to produce plastic but just increase the recycling of plastic knowing for sure of course that one of the components of plastic is fuel you know so here when we think about mitigation real mitigation we have to be transformative in the way we look at mitigation which means it’s not an issue of private car you know a car run by fossil fuel on a car run by electricity but we are talking about let’s get rid of private cars and let’s actually be imaginative on our public transportation let’s think about something vastly different in one of the webinars that you had ryan you brought up the fossil fuel in the mediterranean that’s not fossil fuel actually the gas in the mediterranean that certain lebanese politicians are so excited by oh my god we’ve got the gas okay which is insane and we can have two positions here one position could be leave the gas in the sea which of course is a position that ecologists support let’s leave the gas in the sea let’s leave the fossil fuel for where it belongs in the soil and if we are going to be pushing for that as a platform of mitigation then it becomes the direct ethical and financial and political responsibility of all the countries of the global north and i mean global north economically and not geographically becomes their responsibility to support those countries that are choosing to keep fossil fuel in the ground and the gas and the sea to support them further on issues of rights and not privileges which means on issues of public health on issues of public education on issues of economic transformation so on and so forth even if that gas were to be used from the sea which i am firmly opposed to using that gas the big question becomes what will it be used for so even if we are going to continue to develop our fossil fuel what are we using that for to build a further consumptive lifestyle so we can continue to have a television in every room in the gulf or shall we actually be using that fossil fuel for a transformative economy and if we are going to use it for a transformative economy guess what we don’t need it because we can really be transformative without it tremendously i just want to end with this i mean we you know as somebody who is fundamentally anti-capitalist and when i speak about a world without capitalism the response that i get from a lot of people is you know i’m dreaming and i might as well be dreaming about walking to the moon and i am reminded of a quote by one of the leading science fiction writers who said that during the time of the monarchies in europe no one dreamed in europe that we would be living at a time when the royal families would not be blessed with divine right to rule over us you know in within the the feudal monarchy system but the monarchies have failed they have fallen no one claims that kings have divine right over us so if they can fall capitalism can fall and we are really at a stage where we either hold on to this destructive economic system and therefore hold on to the extinction of more than 80 percent of the non-human animals and plants that are around us and as well what james lovelock argues the killing and the murder of approximately 80 percent of humans or we can be imaginative and courageous and step beyond an economic system that is built on constant consumption and infinite growth and think about an economic system that is built on d growth which is growing the d growth movement in europe think about an economic system that respects indigenous rights and let us learn back from the indigenous communities throughout the region throughout our whole world that for thousands of years thousands and thousands of years knew how to live with the environment instead of living on top of and dispossessing of the environment i believe we have no choice but to transform our world because climate change will definitely be transforming it so let’s figure out how to transform it in a less destructive and a more community based fashion than the way that we are having now and i very much hope that i’ve thrown a lot of questions at each other where we can begin to think about these questions forward and think about climate action within a really revolutionary perspective of climate justice thank you thank you rania that was that was really nice um i won’t give my personal opinion on the topic i want everybody to be here i just want to say that part of us teaching youth to speak up about environmental issues is real talk talk the real talk that needs to be spoken as rania spoke today yes we do have to talk about politics sometimes we have we need to talk about the capitalistic system the economy the ruling class we need to you know so as youth for nature as an organization trying to create youth who are leaders and stewards please do follow the tracks of how rania just mentioned um you know the political system the economic system and all of these things not saying that you need to agree just saying that you need to speak the truth um as it is because much often what’s happening with youth is that they’re trying to focus on individual habits let me change my diet let me plant more trees in my garden because politics is too blurry and you need to talk about it you know it is what it is this is the only way as ronnie was saying to create transformative change from the source and you need to you know you need to talk about politics the economy the ruling class um i didn’t ask anybody to put their questions in the chat rania already mentioned some questions you don’t need to focus on that you are open now to freely discuss what rania mentioned you’re free to discuss what nishad spoke in his episode what lama and allah spoke and what soha spoke in their episodes i hope you’ve all watched the episodes this is an open space please raise your hand and start asking no need to write it in the chat if you feel like you want to write it write it and i can read it for you but please anybody who would like to start commenting um please just raise your hand um and you know step forward you’re very welcome and and i can summarize later what ronya was mentioning please go ahead and start nishad and anybody after nisha just raise your hand and ask the questions and we’ll start all right well i’ll start from where running a stop and absolutely um a wonderful um explanation of how it looks like i mean uh something you should take away uh is the most like the the definition of may now and most of them how people have been pursued of this region as one and all the negotiation is one big i don’t know continent as such manner which is absolutely i love how she started because that’s how the most of the discussion happens in the global north when they see oh where the young people from amena it’s not a continent it’s absolutely division of countries with the multilateralism so much of politics on the ground um you know um fortunately for most of the people come from one big large faith but divided between sex and tribes and etc and it has its own implication at the local regional and global scale and this has been quite forgotten that’s why some of the times you know that’s why young people from the region are super underrepresented they just say hi mina and pick couple of from the north africa and they said hey mina is represented and that’s how it’s been historically done that in our global north friends especially the youth movement again i’m a big fan of uh kratom and others but it’s been taken by again the wide group of young people and undermined you know global south young from you know asia of course me and i also know why why why would many countries been considered and there there are many rich countries oil and gas by monarchy-based countries have a larger belt but go beyond people never flourish beyond that so sometimes you know why do you have to ignore young people from the gulf they all make a lot of money not absolutely not a few of them makes a lot of money and like you know it’s not evenly distributed so this disputes have been not known even even the fact i just recall an incident back in 2019 when i met couple of the young so called the young people from the fridays for future they were asking nisha to organize a friday for future in doha they don’t know friday is official holiday and walking to a parliament is a constitutionally forbidden for anybody to do that’s the understanding they don’t understand i’m like i cannot go friday’s holiday and sort of that i march towards the parliament on the way i would be arrested and put in jail so these are the things they know and the less so even the youth movement lack the real understanding of what they are looking at and they don’t look at the collaboration rather than this is a disintegrated movement i mean these days i like i said you know an organization like youth for nature or coming to this region and you know having a person who is part of the region who understand region to lead which is quite very what sometimes you see some other organization somebody sit in new york and dictate the main region which is absolutely rubbish to me and it’s been changing it’s a good sort of how things do i’m just terming like you know four years back when i started the climate movement part of the being the climate movement so that’s where drastic shift but you need to know that the region is different and why historically young people are undermined thanks to the political systems here and the absolute monarchy systems here had also to do with that because most of the time you would be represented by the government youth so you know there being the youth in the in the negotiation and also you know all the united nations negotiation also happens within the government to government whether it is democratic or non-democrat it doesn’t matter to them so ideally uh my my sort of understanding is that the young people from the region are undermined of course by the global north and has to be given more space and voices to do in the coming days else you know given the fact this region already been going through a lot of sufferings and stuff um they wouldn’t be not really caring that rather than getting some food on the table for the family and themselves because they’re going through so much of poverty and region has been super disintegrated war you know they also have a lot of civil wars in the countries and also some of the regional conflict which is quite nice including the palestinian issues as such so if you are somebody there you do want to fight for climate change they really don’t understand that this fact is a climate change fight because the farming lands been lost you know those things are not discussed in a very very deep way i’m glad i i’m here running you for the first time i absolutely love how how you put that in the contest and i don’t think there are many um uh persons like you who who brings up that sort of you know connections how things uh with due to monarchy and colon colonism and also how capitalism works so i’m glad that you brought up those stuff which is absolutely necessary um i don’t know how i missed you in the past i mean i am glad that ryan brought you up to at least me on the mainstream here so looking forward for more conversation and i know many young people here who have been part of ever since some of the climate movements happened uh like lamar has also been quite a good friend of mine and ryan ever since i know him through uh youtube nature i mean there are a lot of young people coming out of course their space is required platform is required and i think this should keep up and and also more voices to be given to um least like rania mentioned who that’s the least i mean uh i wouldn’t uh call a person from uh from yemen and say hey you are the culprit you know you’re part of the region and you have to do now i mean they’re not they’re not anywhere in the discussion but they’re going through a civil war but they are the people who have to be given the space because they are the one who deeply suffers you know that is something is originally not very distributed and people are okay to have some good speakers in the name of speaker sometimes not really understanding what is going through underground realities if you don’t mind i mean for me i cannot talk about yemen in any way without recognizing how i am guilty of the of what is happening in yemen because as a lebanese there are certain lebanese politicians that are supporting the saudi funding of the massacres against yemen so you know i have to always know where i am and where i stand and what i am asking of others and even climate justice and climate action what does it really mean and i cannot separate it from economic liberation and political liberation because it is a direct consequence of the economic destruction and the political destruction that many of us have been guilty of or victims of for for decades and generations um ibrahim asked this question on facebook that i want to bring into the discussion because i think it’s it’s the heart and core of our discussions when ibrahim asks what about the developing countries that their gdp solely depends on the fossil fuel economy how do you think we can transform this by agroforestry and regenerative aggro ecology i think the first problem is still depending on gdp gdp is a false indicator when we look at the gross domestic you know product and we think that a gdp is going to be in any way an indicator of economic health or of environmental health then we have a problem right then and there so the first thing we have to do is toss out the gdp because the gdp denies environmental health it views that as an externality to its own issue the gdp even goes so much further and says that landfill so if if i you know if i cause an explosion and i kill people okay and the consequence of that explosion is we then have to destroy more mountains through mountaintop removal or through query removal to get more rubble to rebuild that’s a positive thing in the gdp the destruction actually becomes a positive thing because it resulted in some kind of a construction you know so that the gdp itself is a terrible terrible indicator we need to step away from that first and foremost okay so once we’ve got that out of the way then the question becomes how do we transform our economies out of this dependence on fossil fuel and into something else and here there there’s a range of questions that i want to ask which is what is our economy for and these are really big philosophical questions what is our economy for are we building an economy so that we the people can live with humility and with dignity or are we building an economy so that we can continue to produce and to consume and there’s a big difference between the two if i am thinking about an economy whose sole objective is to continue to produce so that i can continue to consume so that i can continue to compete with other countries around the world then i am bound to simply go from one destructive economic format to another destructive economic format and i can come up with a destructive economic form of communism or even a destructive economic form of socialism but if i want to take it further and say an economy is here to serve the people not the people to serve the economy and an economy is here to recognize that the first question is always what are the environmental limits of growth and we start there then i’m thinking about a whole different kind of economy an economy that would be much closer to the cuban model and i’m a huge fan of the cuban model and the amazing wonder that has happened in cuba where despite the sanctions despite the destruction of the cruel and criminal u.s sanctions on cuba that have been going on for more than 50 years the kubanis were able to develop the most efficient agricultural system in the world the most efficient agricultural system they were able to transform their economy from their agriculture from one that primarily produces sugar to one that produces a range of fruits and vegetables and products for themselves now of course they were pushed to do that production because of sanctions but they proved that they were capable of doing that so the only agricultural system that we need to be looking at is one that recognizes the laws of nature that recognizes the intrinsic importance of biodiversity that recognizes the laws of the soil which means what i take out of the soil i need to bring back into the soil that steps away from a fossil fuel form of agriculture which is dependent on fertilizers that are made from fossil fuel dependent on pesticides that are also toxic and goes back to a natural form of fertilizer where we fertilize our soil with chicken poop and the chicken poop are related to the cows and so on and so forth and we build that natural model of agriculture which can only be an agroforestry regenerative agricultural ecological model and we can do that but it would take us first to step away from the gdp model and it would take us first to look at even if we are going to be using our fossil fuels we can only use them as a transition forward so that we use them to invest locally in local agriculture and then stop them but even that we don’t really need it so i am asking for a really courageous mode of agricu agriculture a really courageous mode of economy we can do this in our region so for example let me give you a concrete example one of the main uses of fossil fuel in saudi arabia the main so the main expenditure of fossil fuel in saudi arabia is air conditioning okay which is completely ludicrous as many of us that grew up in the gulf know if we go back to building our homes in the manner that they were built before we removed the carbon from the soil we would not need such air conditioning that we would not be using such air conditioning if we just go back and restore the architectural models of our homes in the gulf we would save 50 of the fossil fuel expenditure in saudi arabia right right then and there so here i am asking for us to go back and learn what has been our history what can we learn from our own indigenous communities and how can we courageously step away from using fossil fuel particularly if i’m going to be extremely cynical about this the oil will run out and then what are we going to do so either we we transition now or we transition by force later on but there are models available there there are models available even if we don’t want to adopt the cuban model which i hope we do but there are other models available i hope that answers your your question uh brahim and please let me know if that did not answer your question like ask your question or or would you like me to and lama also feel to intervene um on the topic because it’s about syria specifically gabby okay cool i will read it um so let me feel free to and like intervene on this first and then anybody can intervene after you so um it’s so great to hear you rania gabby’s learning a lot um she has a question about rojava in northern syria and they’re trying to build what they call an ecological society using a different democratic system the democratic confederalism do you know about this do you have any information about how this has happened what do you think about it especially that there’s more pressure from turkey lama have you heard about this do you have any opinions um or not let us know yeah thank you very much ryan and thank you uh rania for this really wonderful uh point that you talked about uh today i’m really happy like personally i learned a lot today uh for the question uh that gabby asked to be honest i read about it and i know it’s a theory i’m not sure if it’s implemented in northeast syria uh i i know about it from my work from in northeast syria so i my work is not really related to environment in that part of the world so i know it’s a theory created to to like basically try to um uh solve the problems that the north syria face from a drought from the economic situation now it’s really difficult there and try to solve it through this model which actually uh trying to educate people about their their relationship with the nature and then create after the education them educating them sorry uh trying to create or introduce this model of living uh with the with their environment um but i don’t know much details about it and i really um be happy to hear anyone if uh if you know any information about this project and if it’s actually implemented because as far as i know it’s just just a theory i don’t know if it’s implemented thank you all right thanks a lot does anybody else have an opinion regarding this specifically if not i have something to intervene on cool all right cool um please feel free to um raise your hand again or put it in the chat and we’ll keep on answering um rania i was just and i’ll read this directly off my phone right just yesterday i was reading something from a consultant at the ministry um of energy um in saudi arabia so when we’re talking about all of these things the transformative change dropping fossil fuels going back to our roots and then i come and i read something like the world’s largest carbon utilization facility done in saudi arabia um approves funding um you know increasing renewables from one to fifty percent in nine years never done before the world’s first carbon neutral major city neom’s line one million inhabitants and it goes you know so on and so forth the world’s first batch of blue ammonia first or largest green hydrogen production lowest cost of solar energy on the planet in saudi arabia over 10 million smart electronic meters installed in less than two years never happened before um the world’s biggest reforestation project 50 billion trees what do we say about this i say two quick things i’m always worried when people plant trees by the way and and my phd wasn’t forestry so you would think that i would be like yes plant trees but because the first question is which trees were planted and that is a really really big question one of the most common trees to be planted in our region because people love this is the eucalyptus tree because it grows so fast but wait a second if we are dealing with a region like ours that it ranges from dry to arid it’s temperate and we are having a fast growing tree then what is that tree doing to uh water absorption and what is that tree doing to other trees around the region so please do not do not plant eucalyptus you know in our region because it is extremely destructive to other plants into the soil so planting trees what trees where how et cetera et cetera the devil is in the details with regards to everything else that they stated it makes me laugh because it’s as if renewable energy costs the environment nothing you know it’s as if the solution is renewable energy renewable energy within a capitalistic system is still a problem where are we going to get the minerals to fuel the solar power they’re just going gonna fall like the sun or are we going to be extracting them also from from the earth and from which countries will be will we be extracting the lithium and the other uh you know battery powers that we need for our solar power so on and so forth from which countries predominantly from from continental africa and what will happen to those communities so the solution if we really want to be honest about it the solution is not simply to go from fossil fuel electricity to solar power and maintain everything else is the same because even solar power costs the environment something the solution is to reduce energy consumption to dramatically reduce energy consumption and within the reduction of energy consumption to be using renewable energy but i will not simply be transforming one form of energy to the other we know this in the united states when they first started selling and proposing and al gore one of the biggest problems with the movie an inconvenient truth was how he ended it with change your light bulb slumly change your light bulb okay this has been proven economically and scientifically that when you give me a light bulb that uses less energy you know what i do i keep it on for longer so i actually end up using the same amount of energy so here the objective should be for our politicians to be courageous which i will be very blunt the vast majority of politicians around the world lack the courage upfront okay there’s only a handful of them predominantly in this magnificent group called progressive international that i urge you all to join a magnificent group of politicians and leaders from around the world but they lack the courage to truly be transformative so they’re willing to sacrifice our children and their own children as a consequence the solution is not to maintain the same energy consumption but to get it from a different source and to maintain a capitalistic economy so you know what what the saudi arabians are doing the saudi arabian government is doing is is very funny and it reminds me of what the united arab emirates is doing would let us be green by having these other false islands that we are you know planting and it’s just it’s insane it really really is insane it is a perfect example of green washing and we need to have the courage to step away from it because we are truly talking about the destruction of our planet and unless we want to do what elon musk and jeff bezos are doing and get on a rocket and go to another planet we need to have the courage to change the very system that we are part of the alternative is simple capitalism and death or a different economic format it’s just i i cannot be more blunt than that and yes thank you for posting the link for progressive international thank you so much um stay tuned because nishad and i will talk about muslim city and the united arab emirates coming soon though coming soon please go ahead thank you ryan i actually have a question for dr rania so one of the issues that we we face that the like everyday people or the ordinary people who are uh the majority of like they are not the majority of our communities let’s say i actually like the ordinary i represent the ordinary people oh uh i’m i am a concerned ordinary people because i read about climate change and i will try try to do as much as i can but for in general how we can actually a question for you for for you rania and for the rest of uh uh [Music] of you attending this seminar is how we can transfer this information to the ordinary people to everyday person in the street because i don’t think they they are they have this knowledge in the same time i believe that they have the wisdom to to to do what is right or what they think it’s right uh for uh for their life but in the in general i don’t think they have like the the this information that helped to transfer to to make this transformation to other system or other economic uh economical model it it’s a it’s so it would be really yeah like help me so i can help others uh because i i struggle with that i struggle like if when i i want to like explain climate change or the impact of climate change and how we can take actions um on a daily basis basis with um for the general public let’s say it’s a fantastic question i have a slew of different answers the first way is i don’t talk about climate change uh at all it’s it doesn’t it doesn’t resonate with people instead i talk about access to water or i talk about which apple trees do we want to plant um you know which which orange trees do we want to plant can we continue to plant our orange trees i come up with something that that people can touch they can understand we understand what drought is we understand what thirst is we understand what it means when we cannot plant what we are used to planting what will happen to our zapat what will happen to our nana what will happen to the the trees that that are that are indigenous to our cuisine okay i start i start with what people know and then i say okay so if we are concerned about water then let let us not build this down dams are still extraordinarily popular in our region although there is no scientific reason to have the vast majority of dams that that they’ve been having so i come up with another option instead of this um i don’t talk about for example the methane that is exploding from our landfills inside and lebanon and present the relationship between the methane explosion and climate change it’s way too complicated instead i talk about the glory of chickens and how if we simply grow a chicken raise the chicken in your in your backyards and then you know that 50 percent of our waste in lebanon is compost throw that remaining food into your backyard if you’re blessed by not living in beirut then you have a backyard and raise some chickens and we just decreased our waste 50 and guess what you just got some really high protein eggs and you know so moving coming up with alternatives that resonate with people’s lives today that becomes one thing that’s critical the other thing that i suggest is we have to be organizing economically and politically which means we join unions if we don’t have unions then we join cooperatives and we build cooperatives but we have to be active economically on the ground for those of us that live in countries that this is possible we also join political parties or we build political parties because we need holistic alternatives we need to think big picture so for me to deal with the climate crisis in lebanon means i need to build a public transportation system i we have to do that the same would apply to syria we need a decent public transportation system both lebanon and syria are suffering from a fuel crisis both lebanon and syria are suffering from agricultural crises so what would that mean in terms of cooperatives in terms of farmers in terms of organizing but the terms climate change and climate justice and environmental justice do not resonate linguistically with us we don’t need to use them so we you know i would suggest that we come up with with examples and with actions that resonate immediately with people’s lives and that we also start to organize for the medium and long term which means union organizing workers rights cooperatives and progressive political parties thank you very much rania thanks a lot all right um well the discussion i’d say is going really good um we are kind of running out of time so if anybody has more questions please pop it up now i’ll ask one while we wait for another question um we talked a lot about geopolitics differences in west asia and economic and political spheres i just want to pop a question for us to get rid of all of these issues is it is it okay to agree to disagree is there a way we can work with each other not against each other knowing that wars have fueled more hatred uh because you know once there’s blood you i mean you cannot deny that so is the palestinian cause so is the well like so are the wars happening in iraq syria and yemen how can we move past that especially us as youth how can we how can we move past that is there a model for west asia that can be applied as used so that we don’t have to go through that very you know very hard political economic you know um you know dilemma is there an easier way for us to kind of like to to to collaborate if i could answer that rayon if you would allow me um it i don’t mind working across political lines but i do mind vehemently working with any individual that does not recognize the rights for liberation for all palestinians um so here there are red lines that that i would draw so even and i say this because i have been contacted by many organizations for decades to work on climate change issues or to work on environmental change issues and to set the occupation of palestine aside as we organize so no absolutely not because this is integral so you know this is a firm red line and that red line i would argue would also apply to other issues of war and militarization and racism and colonization they they cannot be separated it’s as if i’m being asked to work on women’s rights but not talk about domestic violence you know so so they are integral and i i firmly believe that when we organize we there are strength when we refuse to accept crumbs there is strength when we say these are our rights and not our privileges and we have the right to live in dignity with our head and i should not have to choose between my right for liberation and my right for clean water and my right for clean air and the right of the other animals that i live with to continue to live on this earth we should never ask each other to choose amongst them now does that mean that i will not organize with capitalists you know okay i hope to i mean i don’t like to but we can be organizing with them on small points so that they can then see the bigger picture but let us please be careful in our organizing not to participate in any green washing and any pink washing and any military watching because that is actually more destructive to our struggle than not action you know so let’s just see the big picture while we’re doing this if we are to compromise to know what we compromise on and to know why we are compromising on the issues that we are compromising on while we build for something that is transformative and egalitarian but you know we should never be compromising on uh liberation and and freedom and therefore i do not work with any organization or any individual that violates the the guidelines of the boycott divestment and sanctions movement as you know from the questions that i asked you’re going to join the webinar and these are key these are not extraneous they are fundamental issues fundamental issues that are integral to the struggle for justice because ultimately this is a struggle for justice thank you so much for answering that um i just wanted to note something i forgot at the beginning uh sorry at the beginning is that we didn’t purposefully forget about the iraqi struggle for any person speaking to us from iraq we were just highlighting as examples in syria and yemen this does not mean that you know we are disregarding struggles happening in lebanon in iraq and in other neighboring countries um you know so we’re all in this together we’re we are representing everybody equally um are there any further questions by anybody stuart anybody on facebook popping up any new questions before we give it closing um and you know end this amazing discussion anybody would like to comment on something or ask something all right cool all right rania would you like to add something or i mean i just would like to thank you all for for this opportunity and to really encourage us to be courageous in the positions that that we take um and and to do all that we can and to join a political movement wherever you are if you are living in a country that allows you the space to do so and again thank you for this uh opportunity and i hope to remain in touch with you all and onwards always thank you for this journey of a learning experience very specific to west asia this discussion this discussion is much needed promise we will have more of this on the podcast any further webinar we can discuss this further i just wanted to let everybody know we did this in english because the international audience needs to learn about these things in english just be you know um and so i hope everybody learned something very specific about west asia although rania mentioned that we’re not special we’re not unique with our struggles but we did want to highlight what is happening exactly in west asia the struggles youth are facing the challenges that we have and the solutions the real solutions that are needed to you know create a transformative change from the source thank you all so much for joining thank you for staying longer than i promised uh but i’m sure it was all worth it thank you romania thank you nisha thank you lama thank you allah and soha if you’re gonna watch later thank you too all right um well thank you so much we’ll be in touch with everybody and yeah see you later all right bye bye everyone bye-bye [Music] bye

S1: Webinar - Climate Justice in West Asia

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