Our Advocacy Efforts Succeed in Prioritizing Gaza at Regional UNEP Meetings

APN | Muscat – Sultanate of Oman

22-25 October 2023


In collaboration with regional civil society organizations accredited by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), APN General Manager, Mariam Al Jaajaa,  spearheaded a movement to prioritize the war in Gaza during the second session of the Arab Forum for Environment (AFEN), under the theme "Together we face Climate Challenges to ensure Water and Food Security". The Forum, organized in partnership between UNEP and the League of Arab States, took place in the Sultanate of Oman from 24 – 25 October 2023, leading up to the 34th session of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRY) on 26 October 2023.

Preceding the Forum, the Regional Consultative Meeting for West Asia for UN-accredited civil society organizations took place. During this meeting, Al Jaajaa incorporated sections addressing Gaza into the civil society statement. This statement was subsequently delivered at the forum by Ms. Wijdan Al-Oqab, President of the Kuwait Society for the Protection of the Environment and President of the Gulf Network of Civil Society for Environmental Societies. Al-Oqab also serves as the Facilitator of Civil Society Organizations accredited by UNEP in West Asia. In the statement, Al Jaajaa affirmed solidarity with the people in Palestine, condemning Zionist offenses against people, land, water, and air, and advocated for the application of international humanitarian law, human rights, and environmental principles. She called for these measures based on shared foundations, values, and collective interests, while also urging an international investigation into environmental impacts.

Following the delivery of the civil society statement, Al Jaajaa was invited to give a testimony on the war in Gaza. In her testimony, she emphasized that humans and the environment cannot be separated, categorizing the events in Gaza as genocide. Al Jaajaa portrayed the harsh human and environmental conditions experienced by Gazans before the war, urging nations to reconsider normalization relations. She described these relations as an implicit endorsement of the oppressive practices of the occupation. She further called for pressure on major countries supporting the occupation to adhere to their international obligations beyond their own territories.

The collaborative efforts of APN and its partners culminated with the alignment between the civil society statement and the declaration issued by the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs. The council's statement urged the international community and its institutions to promptly address the ongoing genocide and forced displacement in the Gaza Strip. It emphasized the collective responsibility toward the Palestinian people and their environment, particularly in Gaza. The call was for immediate actions to halt the aggression, lift the siege, and address the environmental, health, and humanitarian crises resulting from the aggression. The statement underscored the need for the construction, maintenance, and operation of health, environmental, humanitarian, and infrastructure facilities. Furthermore, it urged an immediate investigation into the catastrophic environmental consequences of the war, including the use of internationally prohibited weapons.