This story highlights the contributions of three women UN Volunteers to climate action in the Arab States. Personal dedication and aspiration to empower young people to act for the future of the planet are visible common threads that mark their work. By raising awareness, mentoring leaders in communities, and developing activities that promote climate-resilient livelihoods; these volunteers are helping lead the way to a more sustainable future.
Natalie Ismail is a UN Youth Volunteer serving as Youth Engagement and Water Scarcity Support Officer with UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, based in Amman, Jordan. She is the focal point for participatory action research in the region. Through this role, Natalie raises awareness and builds the capacity of young people for climate-related issues.
In support of activities led by and for youth, Natalie contributes to toolkits that aim to increase knowledge about climate issues and address their implications. In addition, she provides ongoing mentoring and coaching, preparing youth to implement awareness campaigns and report climate data in public fora.
Inclusion is always a critical part of the activities Natalie supports, namely the inclusion of young people with disabilities and those left furthest behind. “My duty is to ensure that they not only are part of the process but also lead it,” she says.
Like Natalie, Yulia Isaeva’s activities focus on youth engagement and promote climate action through innovative peer networks.
As a UN Volunteer Regional Environment and Climate Change Specialist with UNDP Regional Bureau for the Arab States, Yulia provides technical and advisory support on issues related to natural disasters, biodiversity, and the protection and restoration of ecosystems. In her advisory capacity, she highlights key intersections for climate action, such as waste management, health, and green economic growth.
This volunteer experience gives me a chance to be of maximum service to people, communities and nature. For instance, I help provide the toolkits necessary for youth to act as mobilizers in their communities and engines of positive change." -- Yulia Isaeva, UN Volunteer Regional Environment and Climate Change Specialist with UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States
Examples of concrete results Yulia’s work aims to support include enhancing cooperation and legislative frameworks to protect coastal communities in Egypt and introducing climate-smart agriculture practices to farmers in Palestine. Her efforts also involve Sudan and other countries relying upon the Nubian Aquifer, as well as conflict-affected communities in Yemen, Somalia, and Syria, where rainwater harvesting systems, solar water pumps, and solar-powered electricity were introduced as sustainable solutions to water and power shortages.
Accessible solar power has especially increased women-owned businesses, expanded internet access in schools, and decreased energy costs. Yulia is therefore promoting climate-resilient livelihoods and digital inclusion in the world's most complex emergencies.
UN Volunteer Omnia Ahmed also supports climate action in the region through volunteering, serving as a Project Associate for Climate Change with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Regional Office for West Asia, based in Manama, Bahrain. She is engaged in the area of knowledge-sharing between and among countries on climate issues, as states further align national policies to international climate agreements.
Omnia cooperates with national focal points to develop, submit, and implement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Omnia also helps with activities related to reporting on climate adaptation and mitigation plans, reducing carbon emissions, and informing local efforts to purify, conserve and supply water efficiently.
Her work is often linked to the economic development of rural women, who often rely upon natural resources for their livelihoods. Through UNEP partnerships including the Global Adaptation Network and forthcoming activities for MENA Climate Week, Omnia will provide technical support to help states reduce these vulnerabilities and solidify climate commitments.
I am excited to be part of these activities because of the way they encourage youth and promote a better future for their families. Young people are most vulnerable to climate change and we must deliver on our commitments to improve the environment they will inherit." -- Omnia Ahmed, UN Volunteer Project Associate for Climate Change, with UNEP Regional Office for West Asia