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Conflict in the Middle East has once again threatened to push climate change off the top of policymakers’ agendas. Seven weeks before COP28 was to convene in the United Arab Emirates and as governments, UN agencies, policymakers, researchers, and financiers gathered in Riyadh for the UNFCCC MENA Climate Week to set the regional agenda ahead of global climate talks, the brutal October 7 Hamas attack on Israel sparked a devastating war in Gaza that polarized the Middle East. Months after the COP struck a historic compromise on a transition away from fossil fuels and activated a loss and damage reparations fund, the conflict continued to dominate the region’s capitals.

This Occasional Paper examines climate strategies and actions in MENA states by evaluating gaps and challenges and provides recommendations for policymakers, partners, and the international community to bolster adaptation, mitigation, and resilience efforts in a fragile region on the frontlines of climate change. The analysis explores the policies adopted both by Gulf Cooperation Council states and by comparably resource-poor lower-middle income states in the Levant and North Africa, excluding states in conflict or government collapse, such as Yemen, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, and Sudan, where divisions are preventing climate action at the policymaking and local levels. This analytical overview confirms that, while climate change is a risk multiplier, climate action can also be incorporated into de-escalation and peace-making efforts.


  1. Improve Access to Green Financing 
  2. Utilize Debt-for-Climate Swaps 
  3. Empower Local Governments and Actors 
  4. Implement Early Warning Systems 
  5. Incorporate Climate into Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction 
  6. Make Climate Central to the Abraham Accords 

About the Author


Taylor Luck

Middle East correspondent at The Christian Science Monitor
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