The overall socio-economic situation, consumerism, status of civil society and the governance systems in the region causes a number of driving factors that have direct impacts on the environmental situation and sustainable development. These include population growth and dynamics, trade and globalization, poverty and income inequality and deterioration of human and environmental security.
Gender Equity and Equality are still controversial topics when dealing with sustainable development or natural resources management in the Arab region and can be separated into three general areas of inequality: access to resources, opportunity for improving existing livelihoods and developing alternative livelihoods, and participation in decision-making. In spite of the lip-service paid to this subject, the rights and shares of poor people – and especially women among them- in terms of access, benefits and decision making are in many cases not respected or considered. AHA is keen to create an environment in which people can both exercise their rights to natural resource and assume accountability for management of resources. Anyone who exercises rights to a resource must also assume a degree of accountability for the management of that resource as well as their adaptive capacities.
The arid or semi arid nature of the Arab region qualifies water to be a top priority on economic, social, political and ecological agendas of all countries in the region. Maintaining biodiversity and productivity of drylands including the establishment of protected areas, all essential to sustainable economic development, stable livelihoods and thriving environment, revolve to a great extent around water related issues. Rapid impacts of climate change have further aggravated the vulnerability of the water situation in Arab countries, while poor governance and unsustainable uses of water resources continue to weaken conservation efforts.
AHA works in cooperation with its partners and donors to shape and define future sustainable development agenda in the region. This is done through coordinating environmental activities at regional and local levels; particularly in relation to regional environmental agreements and global environmental conventions. At the same time, AHA enhances knowledge, empowerment, integration and governance on natural resources management through projects in the field. AHA also focuses on a multi-stakeholder decision process involving governments, civil society and research institutions. Environmental awareness is a key issue for making a difference; thus, AHA facilitates communication, coordination and information exchange among different actors in the region.
Efforts to ensure environmental sustainability in the region are challenged by increased demand and pressures on already fragile water, land and marine resource, as well as the amplified stress cause by climate change. Recognizing that climate change impacts in this region are not gender neutral, and that specific gender inequalities intensify vulnerability to climate change by increasing sensitivity to exposure to climate change impacts and reducing adaptive capacity.
Recognizing the serious threat that climate change poses for sustainable development and environmental sustainability and hence achievement of the SDGs in the region. AHA is keen to promote the production and use of cleaner fuels, improve energy efficiency in all sectors, diversify energy sources, expand the use of cleaner production techniques and environmentally friendly technologies, while incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation into national development.