Climate Change Lessons from Ashura and Karbala

Every day is Ashura, Every land is Karbala


Ashura is the 10th day of Muharam, the first month in the Islamic Hijri year and amongst many important events marks martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) grandson, Hussein ibn Ali (as), in 680 A.D. Whilst details are debated, the story unfolds in part that Hussein (as) went into the battle of Karbala in Iraq knowing that he and his followers might be killed, and generations since have drawn lessons from their struggle against injustice, sacrifice and their commitment to living what they believed was true.


As several communities around the world mark Ashura this week, it brings remembrance again of those lessons that have echoed through hundreds of years.


Many faith based groups working towards climate justice have been gathering in the lead up to the UN COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris. 


There are many lessons from the faith community that can also be applied to the current injustice of climate change, where humanity faces an unprecedented existential threat. This can be seen from the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change, to Pope Francis’s Encyclical letter on care for our common home.


With respect, I have outlined below how the essence of some of the lessons, values and reflections of Ashura and Karbala can be applied to the methods in which countries can address climate change both within International UN Climate negotiations, as well as actions on a local level.


In Support of the Truth


Imam Hussain (as) announced: “Don’t you see that truth has been replaced by falsehood? We must be prepared to sacrifice everything that is precious in support of Truth!” Truth was the essence of his living message.


In climate truth, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report (IPCC AR5) confirms that climate change is happening and is driven by human Green House Gas emissions. It also confirms that each of the last three decades has been warmer than all preceding decades since 1850 and the first decade of the 21st century has been the warmest. It warned that we are on track for extremely dangerous temperature rise, and continued increases in emissions “would induce changes in all components of the climate system, some of which would very likely be unprecedented in hundreds to thousands of years.”


We are closest to the truth than we have ever been on climate. The debate on the science is now over, and we must now act and live on that truth. IPCC advocates the substantial and sustained reduction of CO2, and proposes an ‘emissions budget’ or a limit of the total amount of greenhouse gases (270 PgC) that humanity can emit for the remainder of this century to limit warming to 2°C.


Currently, the fossil fuel industry has roughly 2795 gigatons of CO2 in their reserves to keep emissions under that threshold, major fossil fuel nations would need to commit to policies to keep nearly 80% of those fossil fuel reserves underground. It would be ‘suicide’ acting against truth by burning all potential fossil fuel reserves. 


To avoid catastrophic climate change we must find a way to live within the limit of emissions for the century – this will mean transitioning away from dirty fossil fuels and also building local, democratic and community owned renewable energy projects.




Hussein (as) himself made his companions and fellows aware of the potential consequences of impending actions before going into any challenge.


Climate change will affect almost every single human endeavor, and every human life in some form. It is our responsibility as global citizens that if we accept and agree with the truths of this world, we should work to educate and make others aware of the consequences of our actions.


We’re the first generation of humans to witness, measure, and comprehend the planetary effects of our actions. While all living things affect the living Earth, we’re the ones who can see our decisions reverberate, and calculate how long our consequences will affect this earth for. For all human beings, it’s time to consciously choose the kind of difference we want to make to the Earth, our collective future and to each individual life.


We need to raise awareness and educate on the consequences of humanity’s current “business as usual” trajectory, where the world will burn through about 5 times that safety limit of fossil fuels by 2100, putting the world on a path for warming of more than 4.5 degrees Celsius and about a meter of additional sea level rise. On our current trajectory we will surpass the “point of no return” for the climate system, and global warming will be irreversible.


We also need to raise awareness and educate on the consequences of the solutions available if positive action is taken now. These solutions include; transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy; as consumers to reject the consumption of carbon intensive products and services, and instead encourage companies to provide ethical and sustainable products; conservation and greater energy efficiency; preserving the the Earth’s lungs through preserving the world forests and trees; to encourage and work towards sustainable innovations within all companies so that the purpose of each is to provide shared value for all of life.


Whilst these are only some of the solutions, they are solutions of hope that are in our hands.
From the international multilateral negotiations, to national governments, to every citizen, and within every organization and school, we can bring the awareness that these solutions are not only possible, but they are absolutely necessary if the consequences of our actions are to be positive rather than destructive.


Participation of Women


Without the participation of Zaynab bint Ali, Hussain’s (as) sister, the mission of Karbala could not have been fulfilled. Zaynab was a model of courage in speaking truth to power, and resilience in acting on what she knew to be true.


Learning from the essence of the lesson, we cannot solve an issue such as climate change without the active participation and leadership of women.


Women, as the majority of the world’s poor, are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Women disproportionately suffer the impacts of disasters, severe weather events, and climate change because of cultural norms and the inequitable distribution of roles, resources, and power, especially in developing countries. They are also critical to climate change solutions.


According to The World Health Organization, women are also more vulnerable because they have less access to education and information that would allow them to manage climate-related risks. The lack of independence and decision-making power, constrains women’s ability to adapt to climate change.


In 2008, 47% of delegations to the United Nations Climate negotiations had no women. In 2012, after the first two intersessionals of the UNFCCC, the average number of women delegates was only 36%. In 2012 it was agreed by countires to promote gender balance and improve the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations, and adopted a goal of gender balance.


Research by humanitarian organization CARE affirms that when they are in control of resources, women are more likely than men to use them for family health and economic stability. Research also shows that women may be more likely to change strategies in response to new information and to make decisions that minimise risk. All these qualities suggest that when women are empowered, they can be extremely effective agents of adaptation to climate change and that only through female participation, can humanity’s safe climate mission be achieved


Giving Preference to the Needs of Others


In Islamic terminology, giving altruistic preference to the needs of others is referred to as Ithaar. On the day of Ashura, the actions of Hadrat Abbas, brother of Hussain (as), exemplify Ithaar. Hadrat Abbas fought bravely to gain access to the water of Euphrates. He gave no consideration to his own thirst but strove instead to bring water to the tents for the women and children.


For many oil and gas producing countries, even if there has been a concerted effort to produce renewable energy, it is done so that clean energy can be used domestically, and that their fossil fuels can still be exported globally.


The pressing situation we find ourselves in, is that small island and low-lying coastal countries that are the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of global climate change, face the prospect of extinction if global average temperature increases are not kept below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This means that if oil and gas producing countries are indeed able to transition much of their energy mix to renewable’s locally, they would need to keep their fossil fuel reserves untapped and unsold in order for these vulnerable island states to even survive.


In the short term, this may seem unthinkable economically for oil and gas producing countries to consider, but if preference is given to the fate of small-island and low-lying coastal countries, the long-term collective global benefits are even greater.


Use of Lawful Means to Reach a Goal

Imam Hussain had said: “Those who use unlawful means to achieve their objectives never attain them.”


Within the UNFCCC Climate Negotiations, the ultimate goal is “The stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”


To truly reach such a goal, one vital aspect is to form a legally binding global agreement that is fair, ambitious and equitable.


Patience in Adversity

Those who saw Imam Hussein (as) on the Day of Ashura reported, “We have never seen a man remaining as composed as Imam Hussein (as), whereas his relatives and children were killed before his eyes.” Imam Hussein (as) learned to understand the message that those who remain patient will receive reward without measure. Here patience is not out of weakness or helplessness but a demonstration of his steadfastness and bravery.


The scale and impact of the global challenge of climate change is staggering and unprecedented in human history. As such, to address an issue of complexity, we need to make the biggest social, economic, and political transition that humanity has ever seen, and we need to all do it together – with 194 countries and beyond.


We are reminded several times within the UN climate Negotiations that ‘change is not an event, but a process’, and one that takes a long time so that we are not only walking together, but we are walking in the right direction. With most countries acting on their own economic interests, and the frustration it causes government negotiators and civil society, the virtues of patience are vital to find a solution whilst the world continues to suffer. To keep walking despite defeat after defeat, in order to reach ‘victory’ together.



The Prophets all carried the message of tawheed (Oneness of all) and surrender to that ultimate oneness. The act of loyalty and respect shown between all brothers and sisters who walked together in Karbala in faith is beautiful. Do we show loyalty and respect to all our brothers and sisters? Are we there in Oneness with them? Whether they be Hands, Paws, Wings or Fins?


Life on earth is under tremendous stress, and we have an opportunity in the next few years to either compound that stress or relieve it. We have a chance to become a welcome species on this planet, ensuring our own survival by championing the survival of all forms of life. The first step is also the acknowledgement that we are a biological species — as with all others— living on our one and only home, and that our deepest desire and intention is to flourish on and with the earth over it’s long life.


The more our world functions in oneness with the natural world we are connected to, the more likely we are to endure on this home that is ours, but not ours alone. Can we gracefully participate in a system that has been creating conditions conducive to life for billions of years?


Hope and Tawakkul

In addition to fasting on the day of Ashura, many take the time to contemplate in remembrance, thanksgiving and faith.


At the UN Climate Negotiations, citizens are leading a ‘Fast for the Climate’ until ‘a meaningful outcome is in sight’ in the UN climate talks. Fast for the climate is a growing movement of youth, environmentalists and people of faith are showing their strength of commitment by going without food once a month to call for world leaders to do more to solve the climate crisis.


Yeb Sano, the former Filippino climate ambassador, and inspiration for ‘Fast for the Climate’ is leading The People’s Pilgrimage. Throughout this year Yeb has been traveling to places at the heart of the climate crisis – across India and Asia. And he is currently embarking on the biggest challenge yet – an epic 1500km walk from Rome to Paris. Along with a group of other pilgrims, they are walking across Italy, Switzerland and France carrying with them the hopes and prayers of millions for a better future, safe from climate change.


In these days, we are in remembrance of the lessons and shoulders of generations past that we stand on, in remembrance of the suffering of the world, and in thanksgiving to all who are in that “climate battle”.


In prayers and faith that humanity may act on the climate and environmental truths that they know.


(Authors Note: Lessons were adapted from –

How 3BL’s new brand is Like Fungi, Fractals & the Earth

3BL Associates is incredibly proud to launch our new brand and website! It has been a labour of love and much thought has gone into every illustration, icon and word. Our new brand represents the way 3BL works. Like mycorrhizal funginetworks that connect different plants and transfer water, carbon, and nutrients; we connect multiple stakeholders to create a thriving ecosystem rooted in the values and wisdom of the earth.


The blue circle in our logo represents the Earth, with 30% land and 70% water.


The roots and shoots are like a lotus flower that grows out of the mud and blossoms above the muddy water surface. We look towards the inner journey first and foremost, channeling the potential and values in the outer journey of service.


Fractal patterns and networks: “For decades, we tacitly assumed that the components of such complex systems as the cell, the society, or the Internet are randomly wired together. In the past decade, an avalanche of research has shown that many real networks, independent of their age, function, and scope, converge to similar architectures, a universality that allowed researchers from different disciplines to embrace network theory as a common paradigm.” — Albert-László Barabási.


The trinity  of the 3 circles represent various trinities like People, Planet, Profit; Head, Heart, Hands; and Soil, Soul and Society.


We would love to know what you think!

Believe it. Live it! Diversity

Having lived on four continents, and with an extended family that includes 16 nationalities, I have always felt that I belong nowhere and everywhere. Thats more than half the number of nationalities at BMMI by the way – and in case you’re wondering the 16 are: Bahraini, Egyptian, Turkish, Korean, Saudi, American, Syrian, Lebanese, English, Filipino, Italian, Russian, Scottish, Iraqi, Emirati and Irish!

I am fascinated by different cultural traditions and, at the same time, grounded by the similarities in our values. I have learned that despite differences, wisdom is wisdom in any culture, religion or background.

Various studies and articles in reputable publications like, Harvard Business Review, the Financial Times and Forbes, consistently state that companies leading in diversity financially outperform and out-innovate others. When diversity is embraced and different ideas are heard – including those of minorities – it creates a better understanding of unmet customer needs and markets. It also fosters a collaborative working environment conducive to success.

But celebrating diversity is so much more than only cultures and nationalities. It’s also not about fulfilling quotas or positive discrimination to meet targets; it’s about being human. It’s about inclusivity. It’s about looking past stereotypes and celebrating individuality; the inherent and acquired characteristics that make up the special person that is YOU.

It’s about creating the best environment for each of us – with our different backgrounds, gender, abilities, personalities, leadership qualities and so on – to fulfil our deepest personal and professional potential.

One of the things I love about my work is that I am constantly inspired by the unlimited power of human potential. For instance, while most of the world stills views people with disabilities as dis-abled rather than differently-abled, there are a few organisations and individuals that are flipping this stereotype on its head.


Believe It! Discovering Hands in Germany trains and deploys blind women to perform breast cancer examinations at hospitals and clinics. The blind women are 50% more effective at detecting tissue changes than doctors, helping early detection of one of the leading causes of women’s death worldwide. (mammogram screenings are only offered to women aged 50-69 – despite the fact that 20% of breast cancer is detected in women under 50).


At Specialisterne in Denmark, 75% of staff have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). People with an ASD often experience difficulties with social interaction, however, they also frequently demonstrate above-average skills in some or all of the following areas:


  • High levels of concentration
  • Reliability and consistent accuracy
  • Close attention to detail
  • The ability to identify errors
  • Excellent memory
  • Creativity


The founder of Specialisterne realised that these characteristics made people with an ASD perfectly suited to working with software and in with Information Technology (IT). At Specialisterne, the staff – who are known as specialists – have worked for clients like Microsoft and Oracle.

Another awe-inspiring example I love is Barefoot College in India, which trains illiterate and semi-literate women from rural villages around the world to become solar engineers.

This is only a woman’s job, a man cannot do it, said Bunker Roy, founder of Barefoot, in a documentary on the school. ’œIf you train a man, he wants to leave the village and go somewhere else looking for a job. Our solution is to train mothers and grandmothers. She might not know how to read and write. She might not ever have left the village. But in six months, we can make them into solar engineers and they can come back and solar electrify their own villages.

Yet even in progressive Bahrain – where BMMI is headquartered – women in management and on the board are a minority.


Live it!


  1. Live your values


What kind of place do you want to work in? BMMIs values are Honesty, Excellence, Achievement, Recognition and Team Spirit. In what way are you living those values? Are you being the change you want to see or are you complaining about whats wrong and how things should be?


  1. Cultivate openness


BMMIs first value is honesty, and with that comes openness. Foster an environment that encourages openness, so that all voices are included and heard. Even if you’re not the manager or person leading a meeting, we can all take ownership of making sure our colleagues voices are heard – regardless of gender, age, nationality or seniority. Ask people what do you think? Show them you value their opinion and encourage them to express it.


  1. How do you make people feel?


Think of how good it feels when you help someone. When you made them feel included. When you made someone feel that they were heard and understood. It costs nothing but kindness, and that is the true measure of our success and values as human beings. As the spectacular Maya Angelou said, I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. What feelings do you want people to associate when they think of how you made them feel?


  1. Cultivate empathy


Among the initiatives my organisation has run to cultivate empathy are: a dinner in complete pitch-black darkness to cultivate empathy for the visually impaired; and wheelchair basketball as a team-builder. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and seeing – or even feeling – things from their perspective is not only a powerful human quality. It is powerful in business and can provide key insights on customer segments.


  1. Be curious


Ask your colleagues questions about where they are from, their customs, their traditions, and their music. Try their sports or cuisine. Volunteer with them for the causes they care about. How good does it feel when people are genuinely interested in who we are without any agenda?


  1. See people as individuals


While you embrace diversity, look beyond stereotypes and typecasting people as Nigerians or Nepalese; young or middle-aged; abled and disabled. See people as individuals, each with their own challenges, personalities and dreams. I am a woman but that’s not all I am.

And on looking beyond stereotypes, I share with you one of my favourite and most inspirational TED talks of an adventurous and bold soul, whom I had the honour of meeting a few years ago. I promise it will be 20 minutes well-spent!


This post first appeared on BMMI.

3 steps to solving the Middle Easts biggest challenges

The earliest civilizations in human history were established in a region that is now known as the Middle East. The fertile lands of the region did not only provide conditions for incredible agricultural growth but also the evolution of human possibility, and with it, the birth of sciences and cultures, stories of spiritual hope and laws of human dignity, the first burgeoning cities, houses of wisdom, emerging trade that flowed through the seas and rivers, and professions that were established and have served over thousands of years.


Challenges of the cradle


Once, we may have cradled civilization. Today, our challenges as a region confront our potential to prosper over thousands of years. We spend billions of dollars on arms, yet have the biggest security deficit. We live in one of the most water-stressed regions, with the highest CO2 emissions per capita ’“ threatening both our biodiversity and food security. We are the most food import dependent region in the world.

We are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, food price volatility, natural disasters and climate fluctuations. Long-term trends in rainfall need to be considered in understanding the radicalization of youth in the region. Rising obesity and diabetes rates are juxtaposed with hunger and malnutrition. Our region is one of the unhappiest on Earth. Our education systems teach children what to think rather than how to learn. We have the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. Our innovation output is negligible. Climate change will affect most of the 370 million people in the Arab region and, in our current state, the scale of the impacts are likely to be ’œbeyond the coping range of many communities and countries’. But perhaps the greatest challenge we face is a crisis of values.

To address some of the core issues related to solving these sustainable development challenges, I’m offering three ideas towards a new regional framework:


Systems not silos


In a world of complexity, cross-cutting issues such as education, peace, sustainable cities and health cannot be solved in silo. Without shifting the way in which we approach social problems, individual interventions will not achieve inclusive sustainable development.

Consider for example, the interconnections between climate change, diabetes, transport, education, disabilities, the economy and human rights.

Diabetes and climate change are two urgent challenges in the 21st century.Changing food habits due to behavioural, climate and economic factors have meant that MENA is one of the world regions where the double burden of malnutrition “ where both obesity/NCDs and under-nutrition coexist “ is the most pronounced. According to the International Diabetes Federation, four Middle Eastern countries make up the top 10 in global diabetes prevalence per capita (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain), and, according to the World Bank, these countries also make the top 10 in regards to CO2 emissions per capita. The socio-economic impact of diabetes alone in such countries threatens to undermine wider development and the benefits of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The International Diabetes Federation also forecasts that spending on diabetes care in MENA is set to rise from $16.8 billion in 2014 to $24.7 billion in 2035. Increasing obesity prevalence in a population increases GHG emissions from food production and car travel. People with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes are more vulnerable to the adverse health impacts of climate change. At the same time, diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness and visual disability in the Middle East, and diabetic neuropathy a leading cause of amputations.

Women with disabilities continue to face discrimination daily all over the world, and in the MENA region poor rule of law and governance, traditional and cultural practices and prejudice, and poverty are all factors impeding the successful fulfilment of the human rights of this most vulnerable section of society. There is also an opportunity loss from not including this important segment of the population in the labour market. As Education for Sustainable Development is yet to be integrated in many national curriculums across the region, citizens grow up unaware of these issues.

In the current Middle East framework, typically a Ministry of Health, a Ministry of Transport, a Ministry of Commerce, a Ministry of Labour, a Ministry of Social Development, a Ministry of Education and a Ministry of the Environment could all be trying to solve these connected issues largely in silo, or at most bilaterally, and without significant involvement of the private sector and civil society across the board. These issues require instead an interconnected and intergenerational vision and strategy that is sustainable and regenerative. This means looking beyond the typical 2020 and 2030 national strategies and striving for system solutions that can serve and be relevant for citizens in hundreds and thousands of years; not only one or two generations.


From non-violent resistance to non-violent resilience


During periods of social upheaval a lot of energy is invested in violent and non-violent forms of activism. Comparatively less energy and thought is given to the necessary development that must take place thereafter and preferably in tandem. Across civil society, public and private sectors, there appears to be a lack of clarity and cohesive strategy to address social and development issues. All the while interconnected issues such as education, climate, peace and health are not being addressed systematically. These issues are likely to be exacerbated by a constant state of flux, and so is the economic climate, which leads to further joblessness, frustration and social fragmentation.

The feelings of frustration and marginalization begin to define the identity of so many young people leaving them with no accessible and viable alternative to channel their energies into creating constructive rather than destructive change.

Socially and politically marginalized youth across the region have demonstrated tremendous energy, commitment, tenacity, organizational skills, communication, innovative thinking and superior boot-strapping skills: making the most of the limited resources available. All of these skills and competencies are valuable in any entrepreneurial venture, but especially towards social entrepreneurship frameworks. There is an unsurpassable opportunity to harness those skills into a new kind of activism that focuses on hope, optimism and renewal.

The nature of resistance is to oppose, to refuse, to stop, to confront and to impede, which may have a place in certain contexts. However, the sustainable development challenges we face as a region demands non-violent resilience, rather than non-violent resistance. In the natural world, resiliency requires diversity and inclusion of all parts of a system to not only make it through a storm or disturbance but also to use it as a base to build and create new solutions.

Resilience requires the cultivation of decentralized cooperative relationships and the integration of strategies that promote development and growth simultaneously, rather than one or the other. To survive and thrive in a changed context requires reorganization, and resiliency requires us to respond quickly and create new localized frameworks to solve the sustainable development challenges we face, rather than operating on frameworks that were created for a different time and place.


PPP: public-planet partnership


Where what we value as a society also needs to be what is of true value to the Earth. We must reconcile with nature and from there with ourselves. Our institutions, cities and frameworks need to be designed in a way that creates ecosystem services that contribute to Earth’s well-being.

The region’s policies are based on various intergovernmental political and economic unions, but these divisions create barriers particularly when it comes to sustainable development issues. This requires an (un)foreign policy where we also cooperate based on similar and connecting bio-regions.

It is also not enough to just look at conserving biodiversity; we must also look at nature as a true partner, just as we would a public-private sector partnership. The natural world is a potential partner that has been dealing with complex system challenges and finding solutions for billions of years. One such example is that agricultural biotechnologies used in the Middle East can’t adapt and work fast enough to meet the pressures of feeding 520 million people by 2030 and the impacts of climate change. Instead, we must also consider fungi and microbial communities that have found ways to be resilient in changing conditions over millions of years and learn from them in our food solutions.

In our new regional frameworks, we must ask how we can form mutualistic and symbiotic relationships with the natural world, which has proven to have more far more skilled environmental engineers, architects, green chemists and system designers than humans.

In this way, it is returning to the essence of that cradle of civilization, where our frameworks, progress and development as a human society were intrinsically tied to the thriving nature around us and within us.


This post first appeared on:

4 reasons why sustainability should matter to your startup

Amidst a massive rethink of how we do business, global markets have begun embracing sustainability as an integral part of strategy and a driver of profitability.

Although there are pockets of hope, we in the Arab world lag relatively behind.

I was reminded of this as I recently joined 1600 sustainability leaders and practitioners’”in a perfect and rare 50:50 gender equality ratio’”representing 80 countries, at the Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting, organized by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Amsterdam.
The virtually paperless and high-tech conference saw the launch of the latest version of the GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines G4 at the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, as sustainability nerds’”myself included’”waited in anticipation.


The highly energetic and charismatic GRI Deputy CEO, Nelmara Arbex, reminded delegates that, ’œWe didn’t start this initiative 10 or more years ago because we enjoy reporting. Reporting is not fun. But reporting is vital for change, and we don’t have much time.’


Essentially, sustainability reporting is an audit of an organization’s social, environmental and economic performance. Referencing over 90 indicators, it is a topic that can become a mere box-ticking exercise.
Ernst Ligteringen, GRI Chief Executive highlighted the need for transparent and relevant information in supporting the development of sustainable business and markets. “A lot of progress in this respect has been made but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Reporting will only become standard practice beyond the world’s very largest companies when it has the backing of everyone,” Ligteringen said.
Currently, over 4,000 organizations worldwide report their sustainability performance and impact using GRI guidelines. These companies do indeed include 80% of the world’s 250 largest corporations, but they also include businesses as small as a nine-person company.
In the Arab world, less than 100 organizations report according to the GRI framework. The UAE is in the lead, and other countries include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.

Following COP 18 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar now requires industrial companies to report, with 44 expected to report this year.
Although momentum is building, I fear that companies will overlook the true benefits of integrating sustainability into strategy.
Here are four takeaways from the conference on how sustainability can improve business, especially in the Middle East.


Sustainability brings opportunity


We are facing dire planetary limits, and doom and gloom scenarios abound. But as entrepreneurs who capitalize on solving problems, we should take note. Some Arab companies already have.
Karm Solar created a solar energy-based water pumping system’”that is cheaper than those that use diesel’”to ensure the sustainability of domestic agriculture in Egypt.

Dubai-based Liquid of Life provides sustainable and cost effective solutions to meet the increasing demand for quality drinking water, across the Arab world through an innovative technology that generates drinking water from air.

Untapped challenges and opportunities abound for Arab entrepreneurs: food and water security; renewable energy; recycling and waste management’¦what sustainability challenges could your startup solve?


Sustainability doesn’t have to come at a cost

Dismantling the notion that sustainability and profitability are at odds, Michel Barnier, European Commissioner said, ’œTransparent companies have lower financing costs and are more profitable.’

In addition to transparency, sustainability presents opportunities to reduce costs.

Although energy is heavily subsidized in many Arab countries, energy audits are growing in popularity for large and industrial businesses for this reason.

In 2011 for instance, Dubai Airport’s energy and fuel saving initiatives reduced CO2 emissions by 72,793 tons and achieved $4.33 million in fuel savings.

Even smaller scale savings in a company’s energy consumption or throughout the supply chain, are worth making. Consider a US$25,000 reduction in annual costs, which could be diverted to R&D or used to employ, retain, or reward staff.

As Digital Lumens founder says, ’œI’d rather fire a kilowatt than a person.’


Sustainability Manages Risk

I learned that Puma not only reports’”it has begun asking suppliers to comply with sustainability reporting standards as well.

Given the public scrutiny of global retailers exploiting workers in sweatshops, Puma’s requirement represents an important aspect of preserving human rights down its supply chain, as well as risk management’”both reputational and legal.

References were made to the recent garment factory tragedies in Bangladesh claiming over 1000 lives.

In the Arab world, soon will come the day when the construction industry’”and others notorious for violating human rights’”will be held accountable, and faced with public pressure.

In fact, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, warned that ultimately, the day when consumers will use smartphones to make purchasing decisions based on a company’s integration of environment, social and governance (ESG) factors is not far off.


Sustainability is essential to competitiveness


The European Commission recently adopted a proposal, which would require all large companies to disclose information on the major economic, environmental, and social impacts of their business as part of their annual reporting cycle.

If the proposal passes, this could be a game-changer for sustainability, and it’s only a matter of time before other countries and regions are forced to follow suit.

Companies in the Arab world have the opportunity to start being proactive and leapfrog into a more sustainable and competitive business landscape, or risk missing the sustainability bandwagon and becoming fossils.


This article first appeared on Wamda.

6 inspiring quotes for entrepreneurs from Nelson Mandela

Nelson ’Madiba’ Mandela’s life represented more than a selfless struggle for justice in Apartheid South Africa; his unwavering compassion, devotion to humanity, courage and wisdom inspired many who remember him today.

As we, in the Arab world, experience political flux, I think we can all draw inspiration from Mandela on how we want history to remember us. Amidst a world where we are often divided by who and what we are against rather than our shared values, Mandela offers many lessons of love, compassion and empathy to politicians and social activists. As satirical news site the Onion has joked, Mandela had become the first politician to actually be missed.

Even the business world stands to learn from this magnanimous man. Here are 6 quotes that reveal ways entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs and business leaders can find their inner Mandela:


1. “Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world.”


It’s easy to become distracted doing things that are related to, but not core to our vision. The whirlwind of being busy can deceptively leads us to believe we are achieving something. Like many entrepreneurs, I have experienced the feeling of being super busy but going nowhere. Yet time is my scarcest resource and I am learning to scrupulously evaluate every decision I make: will this bring me closer to actualizing my vision?


2. “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”


Think big. Give yourself permission to excel in everything that you do. Inspire others with your lofty goals and bold visions to trail-blaze in your sector or dimension of choice, even if its a simple business innovation. How could you stretch your business vision and get people to believe in something that’s far bigger than yourself or simple consumption?


3. ’œLead from the back ’” and let others believe they are in front.’


Mandela has described that a leader is like a shepherd, ’œHe stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.’ A good leader demonstrates humility’”letting other’s shine and feel their value beyond measure.

Bill Clinton once said that, ’œEvery time Nelson Mandela walks into a room we all feel a little bigger, we all want to stand up, we all want to cheer, because we’d like to be him on our best day.’ Doing the same at your company can inspire leadership and a sense of owernship in others that not only brings the business to the next level, but creates a culture of growth.


4. ’œOvercoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.’


Social entrepreneurs like Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus catapulted microfinance into the core of the aid and development sector. Acumen founder and CEO Jacquline Novogratz tackles poverty through dignity and market-based approaches. Many social entrepreneurs in the Arab world are also dislodging the traditional approach of charity for more sustainable solutions to economic justice.

Companies that still practice donation-centric corporate social responsibility (CSR) can learn from this by empowering’”rather than creating donor-dependency (including taking an approach on the lines of Corporate Entrepreneurship Responsibilty). This can include training and/or employing the marginalized and excluded, capacity building for NGOs in terms of management, financial planning, and marketing, or investing in’”and mentoring’”women to run micro-enterprises.


5. Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead


Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison in his struggle for justice, said, ’œI have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.’

An entrepreneur’s work is never done. We can always do better. Reach higher. Go farther. Sometimes it feels like we haven’t accomplished anything at all. It’s important to stop and celebrate those small successes and milestones and take in the ’œglorious vista’ along the uphill climb. Remind yourself how far you have come as you look at the road ahead.


6. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


The road to success is freckled with failures. ’œDo not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again,’ said Mandela.

At the 2013 World Entrepreneurship Forum, Fadi Ghandour described an entrepreneur’s learning process as one of ’œcontinuous trying and failing.’ Young entreprenuers can keep in mind that it took Egypt’s Azza Fahmy decades to achieve coveted status among fine jewelry brands like Cartier and Bulgari.

Leaving a legacy takes patience, resilience and determination. Keep going. Push the boundaries of what’s possible.


This article first appeared on Wamda.

Climate Change Impacts in GCC

The GCC countries face multitude of climate change challenges including desertification, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and sea level rise. The region is characterized by high temperature, high humidity and arid lands resulting in seriously degraded soil and land damage in addition to salt intrusion in the aquifers affecting the small scale agricultural lands thus enhancing the food security threat in the region. All of the above geographical threats have therefore increased and activated the participation of GCC states in global negotiations recently as evidence are uncovered and impacts being felt across the region. If a couple of days of rain can flood parts of cities in GCC, and bring life to a standstill, the prospect of large scale climate change is a sobering thought, and a thought that needs to be translated into action.


Rise in Sea Level


One of the main climate change impacts is sea level rise on coastal areas of all Arabian Gulf states. This includes many of the large and small islands in the Gulf region which are highly vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise. An example is the low-lying geology of Bahrain’s islands, which coupled with high land reclamation and extensive industrial, commercial, and residential activity in coastal zones, highlight the island’s acute vulnerability to climate change induced sea level rise.

The total land area that would be inundated under the various climate change scenarios was found to be substantial by the Bahrain Supreme Council for the Environment. Even the low sea level rise scenario will result in an inundation of about five per cent (36 km2) of the total land area of Bahrain by 2100. This level increases to about 11 per cent of total land area (69 km2) in the worst case scenario.

Inundation will unevenly affect Bahrain’s vulnerable infrastructure in the five main islands and would adversely affect cities, roads, agricultural areas, as well as beaches and salt marshes. Even in other cities, if reinforcement measures are not implemented on Dubai’s coastline for example, it would be damaged and altered from rising sea levels caused by climate change.


Water Availability


Continued use of non-renewable water is major factor in depleting groundwater reserves in GCC nations and puts Gulf countries at severe risk of climate impacts. In Saudi Arabia, water supply is drawn from four sources: groundwater from deep fossil aquifers, desalinated water, surface water and reclaimed wastewater. Extracting water from deep aquifers amounts to mining the resource, as supplies are non-renewable and have been severely depleted as a result of policies which for the past three decades have subsidized not only agricultural commodities such as wheat, but also the means to produce them. It is not surprising therefore that agriculture accounts for roughly 85% of water use in Saudi Arabia.

The depletion of Bahrain’s groundwater through urbanization has led to the loss of freshwater springs, which the country was once famous for, as well as its fertile lands. Same is the case with Qatar which heavily relies on energy-intensive desalination plants for its freshwater, further driving up its electricity demand. A vast majority of desalination plants in GCC are energy-intensive and installed at a huge cost to the environment.


Food Security


The Middle East is especially vulnerable to tensions brought on by spike in food prices. This is a region where putting new land into production is not that easy because of the nature of the terrain and water shortage. In Saudi Arabia, only about 2 percent of the country’s enormous land mass is arable, even with intensive irrigation and modern farming technology. Facing a probable 77 percent growth in its population by 2050, Saudi Arabia is grappling with the realization that its barren soil and dwindling water supply will be insufficient to feed all those people (Middle East Institute 2010)

In Bahrain there are over 6,000 people employed in the fishing industry. Deterioration of coral reef habitats will negatively affect associated fauna and fish stocks, and eventually threaten the viability of Bahrain’s fishing industry. The loss of agricultural land due to a one metre rise in sea level is likely to be over 11 per cent of the total arable land in the country.




The potential loss of terrestrial and marine biodiversity under climate change is a major concern across the region. The Arabian Peninsula is a meeting point between the Indo-Asian and the Afro-European regions and enjoys a rich biodiversity in a hyper arid environment. For the terrestrial environment, the Arabian Peninsula has dozens of mammal species, hundreds of bird species, and scores of amphibian and reptile species.

For the marine environment, the Arabian Gulf’s relative shallowness supports a number of highly productive coastal habitats, including intertidal mudflats, seagrasses, algal beds, mangroves, and coral reefs, together with a wide variety of fish species, some of which are endangered. With climate change, these species, such as migratory birds and dugongs would be adversely affected.

Climate Change Impacts in North Africa

In North Africa, rising temperatures associated with climate change are expected to decrease the land areas suitable for agriculture, shorten the length of growing seasons and reduce crop yields. The decrease in annual precipitation that is predicted for Northern Africa in the 21st century will exacerbate these effects, particularly in semi-arid and arid regions that rely on irrigation for crop growth.

Whilst extreme events associated with climate change, like floods and droughts, will probably set economic development back many years, approaches to climate change adaptation are not usually aligned with development issues. Climate change mitigation will divert resources from programmes to address poverty, unemployment and poor-living conditions and threats the sustainability of development process. Therefore, seemingly conflicting interests between the development and climate change agendas often arise, especially in regions like North Africa.


Sea Level Rise, Droughts and Floods

Droughts and floods are the most common climatic events in North Africa and represent direct threats to lives, livelihoods and socio-economic aspects. However, as one of the world’s most water-scarce regions with a high dependency on climate-sensitive agriculture, the economic and social conditions in North Africa are likely to deteriorate in the future. This is also particularly relevant to the region due to the high dependence of regional economies on agriculture.

The main economic and social activities in North Africa are concentrated along the coastal zones. Population within 100 km of coast is 68.8 percent in Algeria, 78.7 percent in Libya, 65.1 percent in Morocco, and 84 percent in Tunisia. Thus, sea level rise could result in major population movements and adversely affect many economic activities like tourism; a major source of employment and income in Morocco and Tunisia.


Water Scarcity

North Africa faces many similar issues to the Levant region when it comes to geographical climate impacts in terms of water scarcity and soil degradation. Furthermore, in Egypt it is projected that 1 meter sea level rise will affect an approximate of 6 million people mostly ’poor’, living in the Nile delta basin. Thus this weakening in the Nile Delta which is heavily inhabited and used for agriculture shall impact millions of people. Recent studies have forecasted that Nile river’s flow will decrease by 40-60% which will increase frequency and intensity of drought, particularly in North African countries causing major socio-economic and political problem for the region. It is also emphasized that Egypt will have to redesign its water policy due to precipitation changes around Ethiopia, from where 80% of water that flows into Egypt is generated.



In North Africa, rising temperatures associated with climate change are expected to decrease the land areas suitable for agriculture, shorten the length of growing seasons and reduce crop yields. In these countries, we estimate that a 1°C rise in temperature in a given year reduces economic growth in that year by about 1.1%. The decrease in annual precipitation that is predicted for Northern Africa in the 21st century will exacerbate these effects, particularly in semiarid and arid regions that rely on irrigation for crop growth.

As one of the world’s most water-scarce regions with a high dependency on climate-sensitive agriculture, the economic and social conditions in North Africa are likely to deteriorate in the future. This is also particularly relevant to the region due to the high dependence of regional economies on agriculture.

Crop production would be reduced across much of the continent as optimal growing conditions are exceeded. The capacity of African communities to cope will be significantly challenged. In North Africa, infrastructure and adaptation to extreme weather events are expected to prove costliest.


Economic Impact

The main economic and social activities in North Africa are concentrated along the coastal zones. Thus, sea level rise could result in major population movements and adversely affect many economic activities like tourism; a major source of employment and income in Morocco and Tunisia. There needs to be integration into the political and economic choices made by these countries, so that there is an understanding of the structural reality of climatic change in its broad dimensions and with its medium- and long-term repercussions. There is a need to make a clear and direct connection between this phenomenon and other socio-economic factors that are more integrated on a policy level.

Climate Change Impacts in the Levant

Many countries in the Levant ’” such as Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria ’” are afflicted by water scarcity, weak institutional and governmental resource management, high food import dependency and fragile economies ’“ all coupled with increasing populations and demand. According to the recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the Arab World will be witnessing hotter and drier conditions with extensive droughts causing severe water shortages that will have dire impacts on agriculture and livelihood. Farmers in the Arab world for centuries have been addressing adaptation and resilience issues through farming, water management and environmental degradation. Global climate change is foreseen to increase the severity of climatic conditions and increase the vulnerability of resource dependent countries and communities.


Water Scarcity


Water scarcity is one of the issues expected to increase with climate change. This will adversely affect livelihoods and sectors like agriculture, which is the largest water user in the country. The Levant region is projected to be one of the most severely impacted region in the world as per most general circulation models (GCMs) due to the expectation of severe water scarcity which will in turn impact its socio-economic development (Assaf, 2009). The Levant states’ engagement in the UNFCCC process is vital since major regional studies conducted by the Arab Development and Environment Forum forecasts alarming impacts part of which suggests that increasingly scarce water resources will be further reduced between 15-50% in all four countries.

Moreover, due to water loss and land degradation agricultural self-sufficiency is dismal, especially when considering inefficient irrigation techniques that are more suitable to other areas instead of the Levant region, e.g. severe land degradation in the Euphrates Valley of Syria (Nasr, 2009). This in turn will result and influence the whole issue of food security leading to widespread poverty in the region. The situation may be exacerbated due to current political instability and conflict in the area ’” noting that Syria is heavily dependent on water resources outside its borders, while Jordon already consumes more than 100% of their available water (Nasr, 2009; Tolba and Saab, 2009). Jordon, ranked as the fourth most water insecure country in the world, has already identified four critical sectors ’“ water, energy, agriculture and food security ’“ in addition to waste reduction and management.




Increase in temperatures and decrease in rainfall also characterizes the main climatic changes facing Levant countries such as Lebanon. Agricultural sector in Levant is expected to experience minimal impact of climate change. However, a reduced amount of agricultural land will be available due to desertification and urban expansion. This means that agriculture will be affected and the price of vegetables, fruits, and other agricultural products will rise as well, bringing about negative impacts on marginalized communities.


Increase in Sea Level


An additional factor is the expected rise in sea level that could further contaminate the nearby aquifers such as the coastal aquifer of Gaza that should provide water to impoverished Palestinians. The annual decrease in precipitation has led to less freshwater availability for surface or ground water. It is being projected that a one meter rise in 50 years will cause salt intrusions in Iraq well into the north beyond Basra and intrude into water aquifers in Lebanon, as far as downtown Beirut and Dbayyeh areas (Nasr, 2009).


Political Vulnerability


With stringent Israeli control on natural resources use and management, the Palestinian Authority lacks the capacity to enforce regulations and mechanisms to ensure the integ1ration of climate change impacts into development planning in the country. This ultimately increases the vulnerability of governmental and nongovernmental institutions and further intensifies the vulnerability and exposure of communities to the effects of climate change. Nevertheless, climate change adaptation planning is supported by governmental institutions like the Ministry of Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and the Water Authority in addition to environmental NGOs and engaged stakeholders. Similar to Jordan, Palestine climate projections clearly state that water shortages will increase, increasing the water asymmetry already existing due to the unequal use of water between Israel and Palestinian areas.


Economic Considerations


In the Levant region, the water sector currently undergoes several environmental stresses resulting from different socio- economic activities and practices, including agriculture, energy, and transport. The potential impacts of climate change on the coastal zone include losses in coastal and marine economic activities such as tourism, agriculture, fisheries, transportation and other essential services. Coastal communities relying on ecosystem services, such as fishing for livelihoods will bear the impacts of increase in sea water temperature as the marine fish stock might decrease and marine biodiversity miay change or decline.

In countries such as Lebanon, the coastal zone has very high population density (estimated at around 594 inhabitants per km2) and is characterized by a concentration of Lebanon’s main economic activity. In fact, the largest Lebanese cities (Beirut, Saida, Tripoli and Tyre) are located along the coast, and contribute to more than 74% of Lebanon’s GDP through commercial and financial activities, large industrial zones, important agricultural lands as well as fishing and tourism.

In addition to organizational and technical constrains similarly faced by other Levant countries, Palestine is also experiencing political constrains due to the Israeli situation. The shared trans-boundary groundwater is unequally distributed with Israel using more than 80% of Palestinian water resources.


Research Gap


Due to economic growth and increasing population, energy demand is expected to rise by at least 50 percent in some countries over the next 20 years. The provision of reliable energy supply at reasonable cost is thus a crucial element of economic reform and sustainable development. Transportation sector is of crucial importance for the regions further economic development. In general terms, lack of and access to data are the main barriers that proved to be the most hindering. The lack of statistics particularly affects the assessment of GHG emissions and economic development scenarios. In turn, governments have blamed the weak economic base for the inability to support research. The absence of scientific assessments and research in terms of assessing e.g. economic impacts of climate change, the ecological impacts of global warming and the degree of resilience of the different systems are hindering the prioritization of adaptation strategies in the decision-making process.

Protect Our Future: Diabetes and Climate Change

Writing from the halls of the UN Climate Change COP19 Summit in Warsaw, where I’m tracking negotiations, I’m also marking World Diabetes Day (WDD), which falls on 14 November and represents the intersection of two urgent and interconnected challenges.

Diabetes is one of the major health and development challenges of the 21st century. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), there are currently 371 million people living with diabetes and another 280 million are at high risk of developing the disease. Half a billion people are expected to be living with diabetes by 2030.

Diabetes causes 5 million deaths and costs over 470 billion US Dollars in global healthcare expenditure every year, whilst climate change is on an even greater trajectory in regards to its devastating environmental, economic and human impacts.

Each year, WDD revolves around a diabetes-related theme and this year’s WDD slogan is Protect Our Future; a slogan that also resonates with the youth constituency at the UN climate talks who are pushing governments to recognize the thus far neglected rights and voices of future generations who will face the full injustices of climate change if the necessary action required by the science isn’t taken.

On 14 November, which also happens to be Youth and Future Generations Day at the climate negotiations, it’s important to highlight these two generation defining issues.


How are diabetes and climate change interconnected?



(Source: International Diabetes Federation)


Like many socio-economic issues, health and climate change are deeply interconnected and both its challenges and solutions cannot be separated. Climate change is the largest threat to human health and exacerbates existing health risks including increased morbidity and mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes.

Diabetes and climate change are directly and indirectly interconnected, as the IDF explains, some of these interconnections include:


Extreme climate events: As we have seen with Typhoon Haiyans path of destruction through the Philippines this past week, the increase of extreme climactic events will cause damage to healthcare infrastructure and threaten the delivery of care for vulnerable people with diabetes.


An overheating world: People with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes are more vulnerable to the adverse health impacts of climate change. In hotter temperatures, dehydration and heatstroke increases morbidity and mortality in people with diabetes. People with diabetes are predisposed to cardiovascular events during heat waves and higher mortality from heart attack on days of high air pollution.


Food insecurity and malnutrition: Climate change is exacerbating food insecurity. Climate change threatens agricultural production and the food supply through water scarcity, and drought the destruction of crops by climactic extremes. Both over-nutrition and under-nutrition increase an individuals risk of developing type 2 diabetes and related NCDs.


Obesity and greenhouse gas emissions: The rising burden of type 2 diabetes and its principal driver, obesity, are likely contributing to climate change. Increasing obesity prevalence in a population increases GHG emissions from food production and car travel. It has been estimated that a population in which 40% of people are obese requires 19% more food energy than a population in which there is a normal BMI distribution.


Urbanisation: Fossil-fuel based transport adversely impacts on health and the environment. The IPCC states that 23% of global GHGs are from transport with road traffic constituting 75% of these emissions. The resulting physical inactivity from sedentary lifestyles is one of the four leading NCD risk factors and accounts for nearly a third of type 2 diabetes prevalence.


Global population: The world’s population is predicted to grow to nine billion by 2050, and such major population growth using our current models increases production, industrialisation, energy consumption and GHG emissions, all of which are driving type 2 diabetes and climate change.



A global challenge



Small island developing states at high risk of climate extremes are disproportionately affected by diabetes.

In regards to diabetes prevalence per capita, the highest-ranking countries are Micronesia, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu. Including Vanuatu, all these countries are also members of The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) within the UN Climate talks. AOSIS is a coalition of small islands and low-lying coastal countries that are the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of global climate change, and where some of its members face the prospect of extinction.

Two thirds of diabetes is found in low and middle income countries. These countries are already burdened by climate impacts and are the countries that can least afford to deal with the increased pressure on health systems, the added mortality and expenditure of diabetes, as well as it’s related impacts such as blindness and amputations due to diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy.

However that is not to say that climate change and diabetes poses a problem just for low-income countries, but expands across the spectrum. Relatively oil and gas rich countries of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain also make up the top 10 in diabetes prevalence per capita, whilst according to the World Bank, these countries also make the top 10 in regards to carbon dioxide emissions per capita. The socio-economic impact of diabetes alone in such countries threatens to undermine wider development and the benefits of achieving of the Millennium Development Goals.


Breaking down the silos


Both of these issues need an interconnected and intergenerational vision that is sustainable and regenerative; this means looking beyond the typical 20-50 year national strategies, and striving for system solutions that can serve and be relevant for citizens in hundreds of years time; not just one generation.

Since social issues such as climate change and diabetes are cross-cutting by nature, one needs multiple stakeholders to effectively address the problem. Neither climate change or health policies actions be addressed in silo as they are largely being done on a local and global scale.

If there is one global constant, it is that the world is in flux. A systems approach is also needed to address climate change, diabetes and its interconnected issues. (Consider the link between climate change, diabetes, energy, food security, and education reform for instance). This collective impact approach is essential within this context to connect and provide links between the community, the private sector, international organisations, NGOs, government institutions, media and academia around solving social, economic and environmental issues.

On Future Generations Day at the UN climate talks, we are reminded that young people are often the ones who serve best as global key stone connectors, and the One Young World Community is a testament of this.