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The Women-Waste Climate Nexus in the Middle East and North Africa

Delila Khaled, Founder & Principal, ImpaXus

January 2024

Executive Summary

This technical brief is a supplement to the white paper, The Women-Waste-Climate Nexus: Unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs to combat the global waste crisis and Accelerate the Race to Net Zero (Khaled, 2023). Using the paper as a point of departure, it provides a brief analysis of the women-waste-climate nexus in Middle East and North Africa (MENA), including an overview of the regional waste outlook and the landscape of challenges and opportunities facing women waste entrepreneurs. Ultimately, the analysis underscores the white paper’s key takeaways and recommendations around the urgent need to increase understanding, investment, and radical collaboration to unlock the unique and significant potential of women waste entrepreneurs (WWEs) to accelerate progress on critical climate goals. 

As the white paper demonstrates, the impact case for investing in women as drivers of inclusive, local circular innovation in waste and resources management is strong. Significant evidence shows that investing at the intersection of climate and gender will deliver outsized returns – not only in terms of financial performance, innovation, and inclusion, but in terms of co-benefits across each of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. This is no less true in MENA. However, the gap in women’s entrepreneurship in MENA is much higher than the global average, pointing to even greater challenges in access to finance and male-dominated markets. Furthermore, women’s integration in climate action, investments, and initiatives across the region remains weak. Meanwhile, the Middle East is quickly becoming one of the most prolific waste generating regions of the world. Though contexts vary widely across MENA, common challenges include a lack of awareness around waste pollution and climate change; ineffective solid waste management legislation; and inadequate infrastructure and investments. Booming urban centers and higher standards of living are contributing to greater waste generation which, when coupled with weak waste collection and disposal facilities, pose a grave and mounting problem for municipal governments and the environment. To address the complex web of challenges at the nexus of women, waste, and climate, disruptive approaches and radical collaboration are required to overcome knowledge silos, build the evidence base, and integrate and operationalize gender-informed policies, programs, and investments.  

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