Arab youth back climate action with over half saying they will boycott brands that damage the environment

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13th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey

Dubai, UAE: More than half of young Arabs (56%) said they are concerned about climate change, and a similar number will boycott a brand seen to be operating in a way that damaged the environment.

This compelling sentiment, which reflects the growing concerns towards climate change, climate action and the regional governments’ role in mitigating climate issues among young Arabs, is a key finding of the 13th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey.

The region’s youth look set to ensure governments and businesses act responsibly when it comes to climate action by acting with their wallets. Nearly two-third (63%) of GCC youth are willing to boycott a brand that does not respect the environment followed by over half (56%) of young Arabs in North Africa and 51% in the Levant.

This finding on ‘climate change’ was released today by ASDA’A BCW, the leading public relations consultancy in MENA, to coincide with COP26 (the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow. 

For the survey, PSB Insights, the global strategic research and analytics specialist, conducted 3,400 face-to-face interviews with Arab youth aged between 18 and 24 in 50 cities and territories in 17 states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region from June 6-30, 2021.

Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, says:“In 2008, during the inaugural Arab Youth Survey, just 11% 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% 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.

“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 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth 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.”

Confidence in government action

More than two fifths (43%) of 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% of youth think their government have the same responsibility as others globally, and only 20% say their government should be doing less than others. The message is clear, Arab youth expect their governments to take a lead in addressing climate change and global warming, and 50% believe their governments can address this challenge.

An overwhelming majority of 79% of youth in the GCC strongly feel their government is capable of driving effective climate change mitigation measures, while in North Africa, 43% of people feel their governments will be capable of dealing with climate change issues. However, only 26% 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% of respondents said Arab nations should be doing more than other nations. In North Africa, 39% expect strong leadership action, compared to 45% in the Levant – suggesting it is a regional imperative to show global leadership on climate issues.

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.

The clear rise in concern among Arab youth is to some extent driven by more positive climate action at government level, with recent initiatives in the region including the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative and the targets set by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to be net zero by 2060.

Now in its 13th year, the ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey is the largest study of MENA’s largest demographic, its 200 million-plus youth. The 2021 survey was conducted for ASDA’A BCW by PSB Insights, the global strategic research and analytics specialist, amongst a cohort equally split between men and women. To know more about the findings and to download the white paper on this year’s ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, log on to arabyouthsurvey.com

About the ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey:

The Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, launched in 2008, is the largest survey of its kind of the Arab world’s largest demographic – its over 200 million youth. The survey fills an important gap in the data and insights on this influential community. It informs governments, the private sector, multilateral institutions, and academia on policymaking and future strategy.

The 13th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey 2021, conducted by the international research firm PSB Insights, explores the hopes, fears and aspirations of Arabs aged 18 to 24 across 50 cities and territories in 17 states in the Middle East and North Africa. 

A total of 3,400 face-to-face interviews were carried out between June 6 and June 30, 2021, in both Arabic and English, with male and female citizens of each country. The cohort was split equally between men and women. The survey covers five Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia), the Levant region (Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Syria) and Yemen.

About ASDA’A BCW:

ASDA’A was founded in 2000 as an independent communications firm by Sunil John, who leads the agency in its 21st year. In 2008, WPP (NYSE: WPP) acquired a majority stake in ASDA’A and merged it with BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), one of the world’s top three communications firms. 

The agency employs more than 160 professionals across eight wholly owned offices. The agency has a further nine affiliates covering 15 Middle East & North Africa (MENA) countries. The agency serves over 100 retained clients and is the leading PR consultancy in MENA.

About BCW:

BCW is the global communications agency that moves people on behalf of clients. BCW partners with clients in the B2B, consumer, corporate, crisis management, healthcare, public affairs, purpose and technology sectors to set strategic direction for all communications and create powerful and unexpected ideas that earn attention. Through an ‘earned-plus’ offer – earned media plus paid media, creative technology, data, AI and an expanding suite of innovative capabilities – BCW moves people with power and precision to move its clients forward. BCW is a part of WPP (NYSE: WPP), a creative transformation company.

About PSB:

PSB is a full-service strategic consultancy. We offer custom research and analytics-based solutions including, fast-turn, quantitative and qualitative that are underpinned by innovation and our strong legacy of custom design and hard to reach audiences. We create insights that give global brands, local businesses, and world leaders the confidence to make informed decisions. We are collaborative and act as strategic partners to help clients tackle the most difficult brand, business and communications issues. We collect all of the useful nuggets from various sources to go deeper and address the most difficult challenges, and find the WHY behind the data. We help keep data and insights at the heart of every decision. PSB is a member of the BCW Group of companies, which is part of WPP (NYSE: WPP), a creative transformation company.