Report

Scientific, Intellectual, and Governance Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges in the Muslim World

David Michel, Amit Pandya, and Corey Sobel

Introduction:

In his 4 June 2009 speech at Cairo University, President Barack Obama called for a new partnership on science and technology with Muslim-majority countries. Among other initiatives, the President announced the creation of a fund to support technological development in the Islamic world; proposed establishing centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia; and declared his intention to name science envoys to collaborate on programs to develop new sources of energy, green jobs, clean water, and new crops.

On 13-15 February 2010, The Stimson Center convened a Workshop on Scientific, Intellectual and Governance Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges in the Muslim World as a component of the 2010 U.S.-Islamic World Forum held in Doha, Qatar. Participants included scientists, educators, policy analysts and practitioners from several Muslim nations and countries with important Muslim minorities (India, Philippines), as well as American analysts and U.S. government representatives. The Working Group identified the principal environmental problems facing the Islamic world, assessed the Muslim countries’ existing and potential resources to address the emerging risks, and recommended priority strategies for advancing cooperation between the U.S. and the Islamic world to tackle these issues.

This report provides a brief overview of the challenges posed by environmental change in several regions where significant Muslim populations are found: Southeast Asia, South and Central Asia, Southwest Asia/Persian Gulf, North Africa, and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa (the Sahel, coastal West Africa, and East Africa). It then discusses the major needs for improving scientific and technical research in these regions and reviews extant environmentally-focused scientific cooperation between the U.S. and the Muslim world. Finally, the paper presents some recommendations suggesting how scientific cooperation between the U.S. and the Muslim world could be expanded and deepened in the future.

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