Majority of Arab youth to boycott brands damaging environment: Survey

A whopping 79 per cent of youth in the GCC strongly feel their government is capable of driving effective climate change mitigation measures


Waheed Abbas

Published: Tue 2 Nov 2021, 7:58 PM

More than half of young Arabs, 56 per cent, are concerned about climate change, and a similar number will boycott a brand seen that damaged the environment, according to the 13th Annual Asda’a BCW Arab Youth Survey.

Nearly two-thirds, 63 per cent, of GCC youth are willing to boycott a brand that does not respect the environment, followed by over half, 56 per cent, of young Arabs in North Africa and 51 per cent in the Levant.

The survey, conducted among 3,400 in face-to-face interviews with Arab youth aged 18 to 24 in 50 cities in 17 states in the Middle East and North Africa region from June 6 to 30, 2021, was released to coincide with the COP26 in Glasgow.

Sunil John, president, Mena, BCW and founder of Asda’a BCW, said: “In 2008, during the inaugural Arab Youth Survey, just 11 per cent of youth surveyed felt climate change and the environment were the biggest challenges facing the world.

"Fast forward 13 years, and climate change dominates the youth agenda, with 56 per cent saying they are concerned by the issues. This is an eye-opener for governments and private enterprises in the region on the urgent need to embrace positive climate action."

Technology can help overcome climate challenge

John said while Arab youth are voicing their concern about climate change, the majority seem to have trust in a combination of government initiatives, technological advancement and individual action to help drive the climate action agenda.

“If we view the survey as a barometer of sentiment, it seems the aspiration of young Arabs is one of encouraging governments and businesses to take a strong stance on sustainability," he said.

Youth in the GCC show far more faith in meeting climate change challenges using technology than their counterparts in the Levant and North Africa, who expect climate issues to be addressed by changing the way we live our lives.

Confidence in government action

Around 43 per cent of survey respondents feel Arab governments should be doing more than other countries to address climate change, and therefore take a leading position on the world stage to address the important issues.

Further, 37 per cent of youth think their governments have the same responsibility as others globally, and only 20 per cent say their government should be doing less than others.

An overwhelming majority of 79 per cent of youth in the GCC strongly feel their government is capable of driving effective climate change mitigation measures, while in North Africa, 43 per cent of people feel their governments will be capable of dealing with climate change issues.


However, only 26 per cent of those surveyed in the Levant region believe their government is up to the task of dealing with climate change, showing wide disparities in the region.

Further, in the GCC, some 44 per cent of respondents said Arab nations should be doing more than other nations. In North Africa, 39 per cent expect strong leadership action, compared to 45 per cent in the Levant - suggesting it is a regional imperative to show global leadership on climate issues.

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