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8th Anuual Report
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In March 2009, the Eighth Annual Report of Arab NGOs titled "Environmental Issues In the Context of the Arab Civil Society" will be published in cooperation between the Arab Network for NGOs and the Arab Network for Environment and Development (RAED).

This report aims at highlighting the indicators of concern with environmental issues among Arab NGOs, and the relative weight of these issues on the map of the Arab Civil Society.  The research was implemented in the following nine Arab countries: Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen, with the participation of selected Arab experts specialized in the field of environment as well as activists in Arab NGOs working in this domain.

It is worth considering this eighth annual report of Arab NGOs from the wider perspective of the regular series of reports published by the Arab Network for NGOs.  On the other hand, it falls within the serious concern of the Network to establish the rules of evaluation, and move from a comprehensive presentation of the sector as a whole, and from the phase of "generalities", "data" and "figures", to a deeper phase regarding the nature of roles and the actual contributions of the Civil Society in the various fields of developmental challenges.

It is worth questioning ourselves here about the importance of producing this report about the issues of environment within the Arab Civil Society.  Some potentials answers and considerations could include the following:

1.     The growing global concern with the issues related to environment: over the past two centuries, and since the industrial revolution, the globe has witnessed the burning of millions of tons of fuel in order to generate power, resulting in an increase of the percentage of carbon dioxide and global warming.  Several environmental disasters and crises are coming up, urging all the countries worldwide to counteract these violent changes threatening the global environment.  They are also accompanied by growing calls for the mainstreaming of natural resources protection and ecological balance in the developmental approaches, backed by a huge global movement seeking to stop the degradation of the environment.

2.     The Arab regional concern with the environmental threats facing the developing Arab countries that assume the cost and consequences of the immense industrial and technological progress achieved by developed countries.  Actually, the past few years show a growing focus in Arab countries on the issues of sustainable development, the preservation of natural resources, the fight against desertification, and the protection of water resources.

3.     Despite the important challenges represented by developmental issues on the agenda of the Arab Civil Society, both quantitative and qualitative indicators show a limited concern among Arab NGOs with these issues compared to other major issues related to the alleviation of poverty, women's empowerment, education, health, etc.  Therefore, the Arab Network felt it was important to identify the real weight of environmental issues on the map of the Arab Civil Society.

4.     This report represents an Arab scientific contribution in the accumulation and production of knowledge about the role of Arab Civil Society Organizations in facing one of the main challenges of human development according to the United Nations and expressed in the Millennium Developmental Goals.  

5.     Despite the increase in the number of Arab NGOs concerned with environment, especially with the growth of the global and regional concern about this issue, information remains limited about the activities of these organizations and their added-value, and whether these activities or fields of intervention represent a priority.  Therefore, the report represents a step towards the provision of the requested data.

6.     The report seeks also to find answers about the types of partnerships – if existing – between the State and the Civil Society on one hand, and between the private sector and the Civil Society on the other hand, in order to confront the environmental challenges.  The main questions raised here comprise: what are the main aspects of partnerships between these stakeholders and how occurs the distribution of roles and responsibilities among them? Who decides on the priorities? What are the priorities of international donors in terms of environment? What are the discrepancies among Arab countries in this domain?

In summary, we can say that there are tens of national mechanisms and NGOs working at the Arab level and concerned with environment that deserve to be accredited for their contributions.  However, it is even more important to critically analyze their actual outcomes, including the need to raise awareness among all the stakeholders about the urgency to operate a change in the approaches adopted until now in this domain, especially in light of the new ecological phenomenon represented by the acute switches in the global climate and the global warming.