General Manager of the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature Mariam Al-Jaajaa presented an intervention on the topic “Youth activism in building peace and the environment” in a panel discussion at the invitation of the Children and Youth Major Group and the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum of the United Nations Program environment (UNEP) (June 8, 2021).
Al-Jaajaa stressed the need to provide a clear definition for peace, pointing out that peace is not a process of resolving military conflicts but rather a critical term based on restoring rights and justice.
She warned against the appropriation of the term and its use to disadvantage people, drawing attention to 'greenwashing' projects,
which are environmental projects that target oppressed people to whitewash their circumstances and the actions of those who commit environmental violations. She gives the example of Ecopeace, an environmental project championed by the Israeli occupation in which Jordanian youth were involved in activities used to improve the reputation of the entity that is mired in both environmental and non-environmental violations.
Al Jaajaa introduced the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature, its achievements, and the engagement of youth volunteers in the implementation of its programs. When some of those present enquired about the experience of the organization with negotiations, Al-Jaaajaa spoke about entering into negotiators in the Italian capital, Rome, on the topic of protracted crises. She shared that she was one of the youngest participants in those negotiations, yet she was able to influence the decisions of the chief negotiators. She pointed out that this is due to the respect young people receive because they invoke the conscience of people.
Upon being asked a question on the causes of war at a time when international organizations are calling for the need to connect humanitarian and development activities with peacebuilding, Jaajaa indicated that budgets allocated to building peace and addressing radical solutions to wars and conflicts are microscopic. She stressed that solutions must include accountability for countries that finance conflicts and meet the interests of arms companies at the expense of people affected by conflict.