Arab Youth Survey 2023: Most young people would boycott brands that damage environment

66 per cent 'very concerned' over impact climate change is having on their lives

A man inspects damaged buildings in the aftermath of the flooding that hit Libya. Experts believe climate change made flood damage 50 times more likely. Photo: Reuters
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The majority of young Arabs are prepared to boycott brands that are seen to damage the environment, a regional poll has found.

That was among the findings of the Arab Youth Survey 2023, which revealed 58 per cent of young Arabs in GCC countries were ready to shun firms that did not put the environment first.

Two-thirds of respondents, 66 per cent, said they were "very concerned" at the impact climate change was having on their lives.

Arab youth in the region were uniquely placed to comment on the impacts of climate change, said a senior figure involved in the survey.

“The Middle East is home to some of the world’s largest energy producers and proven oil and gas reserves," said Sunil John, founder of Asda'a BCW, the PR agency that conducts the annual survey.

"This has positioned the Arab world at the heart of the global climate change dialogue."

With the UAE preparing to host Cop28 this year, after Egypt hosted the Cop27 climate change conference in 2022, the region was once again in the global spotlight, he added.

“The Mena region also bears the severe brunt of climate change, with heatwaves and flash floods not only affecting livelihoods but also threatening social security and driving people to migrate to newer lands," said Mr John.

"Amid all this, it is encouraging that the region’s largest demographic, over 200 million youth, understand the implications of climate change.

"Most are also willing to support the boycott of brands damaging nature.

"It is important that businesses take heed of their sentiment and make genuine efforts to minimise their environmental impact by aligning their values with the aspirations of the region’s youth."

Impacting lives

Almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of all respondents said global warming was already impacting their lives. This figure rose to 76 per cent in North Africa and 74 per cent in the GCC, it fell to 63 per cent in the Levantine countries, however.

The results were released on Thursday, to coincide with Zero Emissions Day, which was created to "secure a cleaner future and combat global warming".

The Mena region is regarded as one of the world's most challenging hotspots when it comes to climate change.

Between 1980 and 2022, temperatures across MENA increased 0.46°C per decade, well above the world average of 0.18°C, according to the International Energy Agency.

2022 saw intense flooding in countries including the UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Yemen.

It was only last week that Libya was devastated by heavy flooding, which has claimed the lives of thousands.

Reports claim the region is warming twice as faster than the rest of the world, and temperatures are set to increase by at least 4 degree C by 2050, if greenhouse gas emissions increase at the current rate. Consequently, heatwaves are projected to be tenfold more frequent.

A huge majority (87 per cent) of Arab youth believed their governments were taking positive steps against climate change, but more than half said nations still needed to set transparent, accountable targets when it came to achieving net zero emissions.

Less than half (42 per cent) reckon Arab countries should be doing more than other nations to tackle climate change.

There is a split, however, on how to deal with climate change - with 49 per cent stating it was up to people to change how they lived.

Technological advancements would provide a solution to climate change, according to 47 per cent of those who took part.

The majority of young Arabs across the GCC (80 per cent) believe their day-to-day behaviour has a direct impact on climate change.

This figure dropped to 60 per cent in the Levant and 58 per cent in North Africa.

The survey was conducted face-to-face in 53 cities across 18 Arab states, with 3,600 Arab citizens aged 18 to 24 taking part.

Updated: September 22, 2023, 3:00 AM