Raising Ambition in Climate Action: A Regional Perspective on Youth Engagement


The youth of Middle Eastern and North African countries are highly vulnerable to unemployment, decreases in the standard of living and the decline of basic living conditions due to climate change.  Moderated by Mary Awad Menassa of the UNFCCC, this panel addressed the role that young people in the Arab world must play to drive change in their respective countries.  Youth must not rely solely on activism but also play their part in the technical solutions to this global scourge.

The ambitious panel of Day 2 of the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit – “Raising Ambition in Climate Action: A Regional Perspective on Youth Engagement” – envisioned youth from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as engaged protagonists in responding to the challenges of climate change rather than just the victims of this global problem.  

The panelists from around the MENA region agreed that a multilayered approach is best, for there is not just one way to enhance youth engagement in engaging in action against climate change.  Maissam El Kouche of the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change, spoke of the importance of youth working not just activists but also to develop technical skills to help forge solutions.  Capacity building is key.  “It is important to be at the front door of negotiating.”  Her group works to educate Arab youth on how to best approach key stakeholders to collaborate on forging solutions.  

With one third of Arab youth facing unemployment, Hind Hadidi of the Jordan Green Building Council, suggested that viable climate solutions are critical to success.  A new job market must be created to help push ESG goals – to tackle youth unemployment and reduce the vagaries of climate change that affect her region.  

For Dr. Hasan Ali Raboui of SABIC, technology is very important.  He suggested a two-pronged approach:  “It is important for young people to join larger institutions to help make change.  And there is also the role of coding in terms of machine learning/artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, smart homes and flexible demand applications.  They all need young people to learn how to code and to make these innovations.  Start-ups are important too.”

See related article: SDG Ambition: Mobilizing Ambitious Corporate Actions Towards the Global Goals – Leaders Summit Session 2022

Marc Anlian of SDG Brain Lab agreed young people have a major role in pushing innovation.  “It is our responsibility as youth to push for change regarding climate change.  Any growth and development that our leaders must have sustainability in mind.  We are entrepreneurs as well as consumers. We must show support to companies that provide green solutions.  There is a strong need to innovate.”

For Dr. Raboui, everything starts with education.  By training youth in their own codes and tools (short videos and social media for example), States can foment economic possibilities and build awareness for climate action.   The MENA region needs to increase its participation in global climate change action.  

And young people need to step up their game.  Youth organizations can be more effective in national decision making processes, based on multilateral negotiations.  “What we, the youth want, above all, is formal representation,” concluded Marc Anlian.  “Youth need to push their ideas.”


  • Hasan Ali Raboui, SABIC
  • Marc Anlian, SDG Brain Lab
  • Hind Hadidi, Jordan Green Building Council
  • Maissam El Kouche, Majid Al Futtaim-Holding
  • Mary Awad Menassa, UNFCCC (Moderator)

This article is part of a series covering the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit. The UN Global Compact (UNGC) Leaders Summit is an annual convening of global stakeholders from the UN, the public and private sectors, and civil society that takes stock of progress of the SDGs so far, and addresses the gaps in knowledge, resources, and funding. The 2022 Leaders Summit, like last year’s summit, will be a hybrid event of live and virtual speakers. Featured venues this year include an in-person event held in Bangkok, as well as virtual plenaries in Latin America, Australia, East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, in addition to UN Headquarters in New York. This inclusive global event — which will run continuously for more than 24 hours — aims to empower business leaders at every level to take collective action and inspire future leaders to embed a sustainability mindset in their work. ESG News is the exclusive media partner of the event, and will cover all 26 panels.