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Event series on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

From October 15, 2020 until June 30, 20217:00 p.m.
Casa Árabe Auditorium (at Calle Alcalá, 62). 7:00 p.m. Free entry until the event’s capacity is reached.

Casa Árabe is preparing a new series of conferences, this time about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), during the second half of 2020 and first half of 2021.

Of the seventeen SDGs established by the UN, six have been identified as particularly affecting the region of our interest:

- On October 8, we will be discussing the Environment (Goal 13) and how instability in our surrounding world can put sustainability at risk.

- After this, on October 22, we will be taking a closer look at the topic of Health (Goal 3), and more specifically at a factor which has seldom been discussed, that of Mental Health, and its impact on development in Arab societies, above all in conflict areas.

- On November 4, we will be discussing Employment and Youth (Goal 8), because youth unemployment in the Arab countries in the Mediterranean remains among the highest in the world.

- Starting in 2021, we will be analyzing Education (Goal 4), Gender (Goal 5) and Poverty (Goal 1), areas in which this region also lags significantly behind others in the world.
Event series on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • The challenges of environmental stress on Arab countries

    October 15, 202011:00 a.m.
    Casa Árabe’s YouTube channel 11:00 a.m.
    We are now officially opening our series of conferences on Sustainable Development Goals with this session devoted to Goal 13 (Environment), to be held on October 15. 
    At present, the Middle East and North Africa region is facing a wide range of environmental tensions which include water shortages, the depletion of arable land, air pollution, improper waste management, a decrease in biodiversity, fewer marine resources and the degradation of coastal ecosystems. In 2013, the UN International Panel on Climate Change pointed out that it is one of the regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the environmental stress expected to occur on a widespread basis due to rising temperatures and sea levels, as well as a rise in the variability of rainfall and population growth, particularly in cities. The repercussions of these climate risks in terms of food and water security, and the resulting conflicts, are raring their heads in an increasingly noticeable way.

    It is within this context that Casa Árabe has invited two guests who are highly knowledgeable about these challenges and some of the paths towards mitigating such an alarming situation. Julia Choucair, a researcher with the Real Instituto Elcano, and Mar Hidalgo, an analyst at the Spanish Institute of Strategic Studies, will be discussing this subject with Karim Hauser, Casa Árabe’s International Relations Coordinator.
  • Mental Health in the Arab Countries

    October 22, 202011:00 a.m.
    Casa Árabe’s Twitter and YouTube channels. 11:00 a.m.
    In English, without translation.
    On Thursday, October 22, we held a round table discussion to talk about Sustainable Development Goal 3: ensuring healthy living and promoting well-being at all ages. We focused on mental health, a topic that is still not sufficiently dealt with. You can watch the event through our channels on Twitter and YouTube.
    Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, progress had been made in improving the health of millions of people. However, as health systems attempt to deal with this unprecedented crisis, the truth is that one underserved area continues to be that of mental health.

    The Arab Youth Survey of 2019, published by Dubai-based communications firm Asda’a BCW, showed that psychological disorders are a widespread concern among youths in the Middle East and North Africa. Half of the those responding in 15 Arab countries, including men and women between the ages of 18 and 24, said that there is still a major stigma towards people seeking care.

    The region suffers from very high rates of depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and suicide. Furthermore, there is a lack of awareness about mental health, only limited care services and a stigmatization which makes the situation even worse.

    To determine the impact of mental health on development in Arab societies, especially in conflict areas, Casa Árabe will be speaking with Sally Toma, an Egyptian psychiatrist; Yasser Abu Jamei, executive director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, and Ana Marqués, a role-model in the field of Mental Health at Doctors Without Borders.

    At present, the world is facing a profound global health crisis: COVID-19 is spreading human suffering, thus destabilizing the global economy and dramatically changing the lives of billions of people around the world.

    Yasser Abu Jamei is the executive director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. He has developed a special interest in neuropsychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and advocacy and policy change for the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. Founded by Dr. Eyad Serraj in 1990, it is the leading Palestinian non-governmental organization to provide mental health services to the people of the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Community Mental Health Program is committed to helping women, children and the victims of violence, torture and human rights violations.

    Sally Toma is a British-Egyptian psychiatrist who graduated from the University of Cairo in 2001 and earned a Master’s degree in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (for complex disorders) in the United Kingdom. Since she returned to Egypt, she has focused her work on survivors of state torture and the rights of Egyptians to transitional justice and reparations. She has led the Doctors of the World Mission as a medical coordinator and has trained many medical staff members from both the Ministry of Health and various national and international NGOs about psycho-social interventions within the community. She remains a consultant for several national and international NGOs working with refugees, sexual and gender-based violence victims and other at-risk populations

    Ana Marqués is the technical staff leader for Mental Health at Doctors Without Borders, for East Africa, Asia and the Middle East. A Portuguese psychologist educated to become a Family and Systemic Therapist, with a Master’s degree in Palliative Care and a graduate degree in Positive Psychology, Ms. Marqués previously worked for the Portuguese government in the field of social welfare. She joined Doctors Without Borders in 2015, and ever since then she has held in-field and coordination positions in several countries, always in the Middle East, and more specifically in Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Yemen and Turkey, as well as working with Middle Eastern populations in Greece. She is currently based in Amman.
  • Decent Work and Economic Inclusion of Youth in the Arab World

    November 04, 20207:00 p.m.
    Casa Árabe’s YouTube channel. 7:00 p.m.
    In English and Spanish.
    On November 4, this online conference about the job situation and youths in Arab countries is being given by Alejandra Ortega Fuentes (CC.OO.) and Jad Chaaban (AUB). You can watch it on our Youtube channel as part of our event series on SDGs.
    Decent work and sustainable economic growth are Sustainable Development Goal Number 8 of the United Nations Agenda 2030. This is a vital issue in achieving an understanding of the socioeconomic and political changes throughout the Arab countries in recent years and, as such, it will be the focus of the third session in the event series devoted to SDGs in the Arab world organized by Casa Árabe this year.

    The Arab world is the region in the world with the highest rate of youth unemployment. The percentage of unemployed young people has reached nearly 30% (29.7%) and is also considerably higher for young women (47%), whereas the world average figures are approximately 14% and 16%, respectively, according to UNDP data. This is not simply due to demographic issues (other regions with a similar level of development also have proportionally very large youth populations without reaching such high unemployment figures), but also to the convergence of a series of structural problems of an economic and political nature that are difficult to solve. This crossroads is now compounded by the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, with very negative consequences for some economic sectors that provide jobs and resources in these countries, including tourism, hydrocarbons and industry.

    To analyze the issue, we will be contacting two international experts in the field: Alejandra Ortega Fuentes, with a PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) and responsible for Arab countries, Africa and Asia and the International Labour Organization (ILO) at the International and Cooperation  Secretariat of the Comisiones Obreras Labor Union (CCOO), and Jad Chaaban, a professor of economics at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and one of the authors of the latest UNDP Arab Human Development Report (Youth and the Future of Human Development in a Changing Reality, 2016). The session will be moderated by Olivia Orozco de la Torre, coordinator of Training and Economics at Casa Árabe.

    In addition to the problem of youth unemployment, they will be discussing the employment situation, the conditions for decent work, and labor and trade union rights in the Arab world, as well as the new risks and problems brought about by Covid-19, as well as other factors related with the economic participation of young people in the region’s societies.

    You can watch the conference live on Wednesday, May 20 starting at 7:00 p.m. on our Youtube channel.  #debatescasaarabe

    Alejandra Ortega Fuentes has been responsible for Arab countries, Africa and Asia and the International Labor Organization (ILO) within the International and Cooperation Secretariat of the Comisiones Obreras Labor Union (CCOO) since 2006. She earned her PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) and a Master’s degree in Immigration and Social Intervention (2004) from the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas. Her doctoral thesis is a study of trade union history in Arab countries, with a comparative analysis of the trade union models in Tunisia and Egypt. She has just published For Decent Work in Africa: The role of labor union organisations on the centennial of the ILO (Catarata, 2020), which was awarded with the eleventh Casa África Essay Prize.

    Jad Chaaban is an Associate Professor of Economics at the American University of Beirut (AUB). He was formerly a visiting professor and researcher at the Toulouse School of Economics, the London School of Economics and the World Bank. He is a founding member of the Lebanese Economic Association and a former member of the Advisory Board of the UNDP Global Human Development Report, as well as one of the authors of the Arab Human Development Report 2016:  Youth and the Future of Human Development in a Changing Reality. He has had many articles and essays published on a wide and varied range of topics from public health economics, education and labor policy to agricultural and environmental economics, as well as youth and development, integration and creating employment in the Arab world.