Environmental awareness in the Arab world

Lebanon was the country with the strongest concerns about climate change in general, followed by Tunisia and Egypt.
Sunday 17/11/2019
Emiratis light candles to mark Earth Hour near Burj Khalifa in Dubai, March 23, 2013. (Reuters)
Emiratis light candles to mark Earth Hour near Burj Khalifa in Dubai, March 23, 2013. (Reuters)

Climate change is a global emergency that respects no borders but results from a recent survey revealed that, when it comes to convincing MENA populations to come to grips with the crisis, substantial barriers remain.

Recent data gathered by Arab Barometer, a nonpartisan research network that has conducted opinion surveys across the region since 2006, indicated that a strong majority of respondents said they were “very concerned” about water and trash pollution (70% and 66%, respectively). Both issues are immediate problems that MENA residents must often deal with directly and can see with their own eyes daily.

However, when it came to more abstract or long-term environmental issues, such as climate change and air quality, fewer survey respondents said they were very worried (35% and 44%, respectively).

Opinions showed no significant variations across age and gender groups. However, more educated and affluent respondents expressed slightly stronger concerns about climate change in general.

The survey uncovered dividing lines geographically: Residents in rural areas were more likely to view climate change as a “very serious” problem than those living in urban environments.

Lebanon was the country with the strongest concerns about climate change in general, followed by Tunisia and Egypt, but national differences on specific issues were the starkest. Air quality was considered a “very serious” problem for 57% of respondents in Libya but only for 25% of those surveyed in Kuwait.

The survey adds credence to the argument that a region-wide effort must be made to build awareness about climate change.

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