Since 2011, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have experienced social and political upheavals that have resulted not only in fundamental changes in the region’s political order, but also in changes in social stratification, economic stability, and cultural cohesion. Regime changes in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia, the wars in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, Iraq’s continuing fragmentation, authoritarianism in Turkey, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the socio-economic and political grievances in Jordan and Lebanon have dominated the news from the region in recent years, together with major population movements within the region.
However, all of these developments are set against a background of declining natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, due to a warming climate, rainfall variability, overuse, pollution, and degradation. Regardless of where the regional political regimes and societies are heading, they will have to deal with global and regional environmental change.
This workshop aims to recap how the region’s resource base has changed since the beginning of the twenty-first century, draw lessons from history, and outline scenarios for the future. Drawing on political economy and political ecology, participants from academia and policymaking will engage with how socio-economic, political, and ecological changes interact in different parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Their contributions will be organised in four panels, three of which will investigate the different dimensions of sustainability by comparing different cases within the region. Panel I will focus on physical and geographical space, i.e. the distribution of and access to natural resources; panel II will investigate the changed and changing cultural space(s) in which resources are used in MENA, with a focus on conflict and cooperation over resources; and panel III will focus on the temporal dimension of sustainability, outlining both lessons learnt and future scenarios. A fourth panel will draw cross-regional comparisons between sustainable resource use in the MENA and other world regions, i.e. Africa, Asia and Latin America.