From February 9-11, APN made effective interventions during its participation in the UNEP Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF) over three long days. The forum sought to collect conclusions and demands into a single statement presented to the United Nations Environmental Association (UNEA) of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The Major Groups and Stakeholders accredited by the UNEP comprise 630 civil society organizations from all regions of the world.
During the first day of the consultative meetings, APN co-founder and head of APN’s Scientific Committee Hassan al-Jaajaa presented APN’s work in the "Conflicts and Environment" session. He explained APN’s role in planting over 2.5 million fruit trees in Jordan and Palestine to secure a basic source of livelihood for farmers. He pointed out the particular importance of APN’s planting efforts in Palestine to protect lands from seizure and confiscation by the Israeli occupation that tracks the location of trees and seeks to uproot them.
Al-Jaajaa added, "it is necessary to talk about the blockade and conflicts in Palestine and Gaza. We demand that they be ended by UNEP, given their extreme effects [on the environment and people].
Upon reading the conclusions at the end of the first day, APN representatives were surprised by the removal of "Wars and the Environment" from the list of issues raised in the meetings. APN emphasized the need to adopt this framework and called for it to be taken up by the UNEP, due to the severe negative impact of the occupation and conflicts on the environment. Following APN’s demand and a show of alliance between the Arab environmental societies in Palestine, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Lebanon, the Environment and Conflict Axis was established on the second day of the meetings.
During the discussion of this axis, APN Project Officer Deyar Muheisen, stressed the urgency of addressing this issue, given its profound effect on environmental issues in the region and the world and its relationship to indigenous livelihoods, as agriculture is a source of sustenance for many peoples affected by conflict. Muheisen illustrated her point by speaking on the conditions suffered by Palestinian farmers, whose lands are confiscated for the Apartheid Wall and settlement construction.
She explained that replanting uprooted trees greatly contributes to maintaining the steadfastness of farmers, in light of the attempts to displace them through the destruction of their land. Muheisen noted that international law prohibits the use of food as a weapon, and called for any agenda for the consultative meetings to include the priorities of the people of regions living in the shadow of wars and crises.
After days of discussion, the GMGSF message was submitted to Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn, President of the United Nations Environment Assembly, for discussion at the meeting of the UNEP on 2/23/2021.