Combatting the gendered impacts of climate change in the MENA region: opportunities, challenges and trade-offs

This event was organised in partnership between NatCen International and the University of Naples “L’Orientale”
Two Berber women carrying agriculture goods on a path in the Draa valley
  • Event time:
    5th October 2023 09:00 – 6th October 2023 13:00
  • Format:

Highlights from the event

  1. Opening remarks from Hadil Almowafak, Yemen Policy Center: MENA’s Climate Confluence: Where Environmental Pressures Meet Socioeconomic and Political Fault Lines.
  2. Introductory remarks: Ersilia Francesca, University of Naples, L’Orientale, Sherine El Taraboulsi-McCarthy, NatCen International.
  3. Panel "Climate financing in the MENA region: opportunities and challenges": Sherine El Taraboulsi-McCarthy, NatCen International, Houssam Chahine, UNHCR, Naila Farouky, Arab Foundation Forum, Delila Khaled, Royal Academy of Engineering.

Click here to read our report, which provides a synthesis of key insights shared at the workshop.


In 2017, the International Panel on Climate Change projected that the MENA region would be one of the world’s regions hit hardest by climate change in the 21st century. This is further compounded by deepening socioeconomic and gendered inequalities, a marked slowdown in global economic activity as well as political conflict. Drawing on contributions from climate experts, civil society leaders and academics, this two-day workshop examined the gendered impacts of climate change in the MENA region.  

Specifically, the workshop aimed to address the following questions:

  1. How are climate actors in the MENA region, especially women, engaging with the compound effects of climate change and socioeconomic hardship? What can we learn from their experiences?
  2. What can multilateral engagement on the climate agenda in MENA region do and what is the scope for complementarity between multilateral and local action?
  3. What are the key policy recommendations on gender-inclusive climate action that Arab governments should take note of to incentivize global collective action on the climate crisis?


  • Hadil al Mowafak
    Research Fellow Yemen Policy Center
    Hadil Al-Mowafak is a Research Fellow at the Yemen Policy Center, writing along the themes of security and peacebuilding in Yemen. Prior to joining the Yemen Policy Centre, Hadil worked at Mwatana Organization as a researcher, investigating cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international law.
  • Mounira Soliman
    Professor of English Cairo University
    Mounira Soliman is a Professor of English at Cairo University. She is the coeditor of Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa: A Postcolonial Outlook (2013). Her most recent publication is a coedited special issue of Studi Magrebeni on “Artivism, Culture and Knowledge Production for Egalitarian Citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa” (2020). Her research interests include popular culture, Middle East studies, and American studies. She currently working on the production of an Egyptian literary cookbook.
  • Shereen Abuelnaga
    Professor Cairo University
    Shereen Abuelnaga is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cairo University and is a literary critic. She has published books (Arabic & English) and critical literary articles in scholarly journals, with a special focus on gender. Aware of her positionality in the third world, Abuelnaga views the world from the lens of a socialist feminist. Studying the inter/transcultural encounters in literature and the arts, during the peak of globalization and its discontents, reflects her position and adds to the field of cultural/gender studies. She is concerned with reading the manifestations of neo-patriarchy and neo-liberalism that precipitate the rise of the ‘new text’: a powerful sign of resistance.
  • Renata Pepicelli
    Associate Professor of Islamic countries University of Pisa
    Renata Pepicelli was born in Naples in 1976 and graduated at L’Orientale University of Naples. She obtained her PhD in “Mediterranean Geopolitics and Culture” (XX cycle) at the Italian Institute of Human Sciences (SUM), University Federico II of Naples. In 2013 she became an associate professor in the scientific area of Ancient Near East, Middle East and African Cultures (L-OR/10); she was Rtd B researcher in History of Islamic Countries at the University's Department of Civilizations and Forms of Knowledge where since 2020 she has been associate professor of Contemporary History of the Arab World.
  • Houssam Chahine
    Head of Climate Action Financing Hub UNHCR
    Houssam has more than 20 years of experience in partnership building, stakeholder management and public engagement and advocacy campaigns in both the not-for-profit and governmental sectors. Specialized in fundraising campaigns, Houssam launched and established new philanthropic programs, in international and regional institutions such as Greenpeace, and UNHCR. Since 2011, Houssam has been leading private sector partnerships for UNHCR in the MENA region. This includes overlooking the development of UNHCR’s Islamic Philanthropy strategy, largely realized through UNHCR’s global Zakat Initiative, and partnerships with Islamic finan-cial institutions, in addition to family foundations in the region.
  • Naila Farouky
    CEO & Executive Director Arab Foundations Forum
    With over 20 years of experience in project management, media production, and strategic communication, Naila is a Peabody Award-winning executive who has built a career across several continents. Following several years at Sesame Workshop, where she produced local adaptations of the iconic children’s educational program Sesame Street, Naila assumed the role of CEO at AFF in 2014. Since then, she has helped grow the network in over 10 countries across the region, with a network of members representing the rich ecosystem of philanthropy, non-profit, civil society, and development actors. Naila has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and has contributed to academic research and data on the Arab philanthropy sector.
  • Delila Khaled
    Royal Academy of Engineering
    Delila Khaled is an international development expert and social impact entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in more than 20 countries. She specializes in inclusive finance; recycling and waste management; and women's economic empowerment. Delila serves on ISWA’s Women of Waste Task Force and is a Foundry Fellow at MIT.
  • Maha El Said
    Professor of English Literature and American Studies Cairo University
    Maha El Said is the Chair of the English Department, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University. She has more than 22 years of experience teaching at Egyptian Universities with a special interest in American Studies. She was the first to write a book length dissertation on Arab American poetry in 1997. She has publications on Arab American writings, creative writing, popular culture, gender and the impact of new technologies on literature.
  • Haneen Shaheen
    Climate Diplomacy Fund Programme Manager Cairo University
    Haneen Shaheen is the Climate Diplomacy Fund Programme Manager at UK Aid in Cairo, where she supports environmental action and organisation in the Egyptian community. She is also volunteering as a Climate Action Network board member, where she represents Egypt in the network and supports the climate action in the Arab world.
  • Anh Vu
    Research Director National Centre for Social Research
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    Anh Vu is a Research Director at NatCen International. Her research centres on the connections between environmental change, risks, vulnerabilities and human wellbeing. Prior to NatCen, she worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, then Newcastle University.

    Alongside her academic track record, Anh has a wide-ranging practitioner background in policy relevant research and community building, with nearly 20 years of experience working with multilateral and bilateral donors, multi-level governments, and inter/national NGOs. Anh has published, advised, taught and led extensive consultancies and commissioned research on environmental governance, climate change policy, urban sustainability, SDGs, civil society, and social movements in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Her work has been featured in the top-ranking peer-reviewed journals (World Development, Sustainability Science, Contemporary Politics, Community Development, VOLUNTAS, International Development Planning and Review).  

  • Pietro Masina
    Professor University of Naples
    Pietro Masina is Professor of East Asian history at the University of Naples L’Orientale and Life Member of Clare Hall college, University of Cambridge. He is currently Editor-in-chief of the European Journal of East Asian Studios.
  • Carla Pagano


  • Sherine El Taraboulsi–McCarthy
    Director, NatCen International National Centre for Social Research
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    Sherine is the Director of NatCen International where she leads a team of senior experts and researchers dedicated to shaping global social policy and practice. She is widely acknowledged as an expert in humanitarian and development policy, conflict, security and evidence uptake with a focus on the UK, Africa and the Middle East. Sherine has two decades of experience in leading and delivering on complex research projects and consortia as well as providing policy advice at a senior level to governments, donors and civil society organizations on their engagement in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. 

    Prior to establishing NatCen International, Sherine was a Senior Research Fellow at ODI where she launched and co-led a cross-institutional initiative on peace and sustainability in the Mediterranean region. Earlier in her career, she set up a research unit on regional philanthropy and civic engagement at the American University in Cairo. Sherine has held fellowships at Keble College at the University of Oxford, the Department of Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean at the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’ and the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia. She has also been a guest lecturer at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Cranfield University in England as well as the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies in Qatar. Her work can be found in the International Review of the Red Cross, the Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East, Development in Practice as well as book chapters in edited volumes with Palgrave Macmillan and James Currey. Sherine sits on the Board of Trustees of Protection Approaches, a UK charity dedicated to combatting identity-based violence in the UK and globally.

    Sherine holds a DPhil from the Department of International Development and St. Cross College at the University of Oxford.

  • Ersilia Francesca
    Full Professor of History of Islamic countries University of Naples L’Orientale
    Ersilia Francesca is Full Professor of History of Islamic countries at Università L’Orientale in Naples – Asia Africa and Mediterranean Department, where she teaches “Contemporary history of Economy of Middle East and North Africa” and “Gender Politics in Islamic Context”. She is chief editor of the peer-reviewed journal Studi Magrebini (Brill), and director of the Center for Islamic World at L’Orientale. She is also chief editor of the series Studies in Ibadism and Oman, Olms (Germany).
  • Antonio Pezzano
    Researcher University of Naples L’Orientale
    Antonio is on the Scientific Committee of the Centre of Contemporary African Studies (CeSAC) at the same university. He holds a PhD in African History from the University of Siena, completed in 2004 with a thesis on “African Small and Micro-Entrepreneurs in Witwatersrand: A Historical Perspective”. He holds a Master in Tourism Economics and Management at CISET (International Centre of Studies on the Tourist Economy), from the University of Venice “Ca’ Foscari”. His research and teaching areas of interest are urban governance and informality, local development and local government in sub-Saharan Africa; his particular area of research is South Africa. He is on the editorial board of the journal Afriche e Orienti.
  • Daniela Pioppi
    Professor University of Naples L’Orientale
    Daniela Pioppi is associate professor of contemporary history of Arab countries at L'Orientale University of Naples. Trained as an Arabist and a political scientist (first degree in Oriental Studies, University of Rome 'La Sapienza', MA in comparative politics of the Middle East, SOAS, London University, and PhD in Political Science at the University of Pisa), she has a vast experience of field research in the Arab world. Her main research interests are comparative politics of the Middle East and North Africa region with a special emphasis on the recent evolution of Islamist movements/parties. She has directed several international research projects and she was Senior Fellow at the Mediterranean and Middle East Programme of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).
  • Sara Borrillo
    Researcher University of Rome Tor Vergata
    Sara Borrillo has been the 2021 laureate/holder of the Gender Chair of the GIS-Institute du Genre at the Sorbonne University Paris 1-Pantheon (IEDES-Institut du développement). She holds a PhD in Middle East Studies at University of Naples L’Orientale (2014), where she has been post-doctoral researcher (2015-2019). She obtained the Italian National Academic Qualification to function as Associate Professor in History of Islamic Countries (2018). She has been Adjunct Professor of Islamic Law at University Roma Tre (2021-2022) and Adjunct Professor of History of Islamic Countries at the University of Macerata (2016-2018).