Mar 30, 2023
ANND Annual Report 2022

ANND Annual Report 2022 - please click here to download the full report or read the foreword below


This report documents ANND's activities in 2022, one of the most challenging periods that faced the region and the world.

The past year saw a succession of perilous events with complex repercussions. It began with Russia's war on Ukraine, causing huge losses in lives and property and millions of refugees to Europe. The war also threatened international security and stability. It prompted some European countries to double their defense budgets to produce weapons and support the fighting forces. However, the war's most imminent threat was to energy security. The EU decided to become independent from Russian fossil fuels, which are used as an economic and political weapon and cost European taxpayers nearly 100 billion euros annually. Moreover, the new situation might also contribute to addressing the climate crisis.

Due to the blockade on Ukraine, several countries adopted export restrictions on foodstuffs. Global food prices rose sharply, as did global food prices, poverty, and exclusion. "The Ukrainian war had repercussions on 1.6 billion people and 94 countries," declared the German special envoy to Syria. These emerging crises are threatening political stability and exacerbating the food crisis in the region.

The climate negotiations that took place at the end of the year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, revealed a wide schism between developing and developed countries. The former adhered to the principle of shared but varying responsibility for climate deterioration. They considered that industrialized countries bear historical responsibility for the consequences of practices that followed industrial development and colonial policies. As well as doubling the gap between developed and developing countries, those practices were responsible for rising global temperatures, causing desertification, threatening biodiversity, and damaging the environment in general.

On the other side, industrialized countries evaded these obligations. Negotiations failed to reach practical solutions or commit to investing in clean technology and spreading it to all countries. The same went for the shift from fossils to clean energy and using sustainable patterns of production and consumption. The war in Ukraine led to a retreat from the Paris (2015) and Glasgow (2021) climate agreements. The negotiators in Sharm el-Sheikh agreed on the principle of establishing a recovery fund. However, differences over the fund's structure, work mechanisms, financing, and priorities led to its referral to the next round of negotiations in Dubai in late 2023.

In light of these international tensions, the region witnessed several negative developments. Regional divisions fueled armed conflicts threatening security and stability. The arrival of extremist forces to power in the Israeli elections, their declaration of expansionist intentions, and the adoption of strict judicial measures against the objectors, defenders of their lands, and adherents to the right to self-determination have led to more tension and violations by the occupying forces against the Palestinian people. They also weakened the capacities of the Palestinian Authority in light of global silence about the terrible crimes committed daily against unarmed civilians, children, and the elderly.

These developments had a serious impact on the economic and social situation in the region. Despite the profits achieved by oil-exporting countries due to the rise in oil prices, the rates of poverty, unemployment, and inflation in the remaining countries increased significantly. The number of poor people reached nearly 130 million, a third of the region’s population, except the GCC countries and Libya. In 2022, the inflation rate rose to 14% in the region, which recorded the highest unemployment rate globally at 12%. This is in addition to the deepening inequality gap between Arab countries and within each country.

The Arab region ranks first globally in income inequality, with 15% of the population controlling more than 60% of the income, compared to 36% in Europe and 47% in the US. However, these numbers reflected the pre-Corona situation, and it is expected that the pandemic has deepened the gap.

Covid-19 damaged many economies in the region. Some governments took harsh measures to limit the spread of the virus, slowing down economic growth and increasing unemployment rates. Although a few countries are beginning to achieve some economic recovery, long-term effects will remain. They include accumulated debt, labor market fluctuations, and changes in consumer behavior. It is expected that it will take many countries years to fully recover from the pandemic.

The region's population suffered during the pandemic, highlighting the Arab countries' weak capacities in responding to crises in general. The health system's fragility, in particular, was apparent, especially in terms of limiting the spread, providing treatment, and, at a later stage, securing vaccines fairly. Democracy and political participation did not fare better. Challenges included government restrictions on public gatherings and the freedom of expression. The pandemic demonstrated the need for transparency and accountability in government actions, in addition to inclusive participation and effective communication. Nonetheless, some governments used the pandemic as a pretext to suppress political dissent and silence critical voices.

Social conditions worsened due to the decline in growth rates, slowing economies, high inflation rates, high public indebtedness, and deficits in the budget and balance of payments. Thus, Arab countries turned to international financial institutions, especially the IMF, which requires that  countries adhere to structural reform programs. Such programs will consequently impact institutions, fiscal and monetary policies, economic trends, and public spending, especially on services, without any comprehensive development vision that adopts social policies that contribute to improving people’s living conditions and alleviating poverty.

In light of this situation, ANND focused in its adopted strategy on five strategic goals that ultimately lead to strengthening and empowering society to achieve a balance of power that contributes to enhancing participation in public policy-making and ensuring that reform programs take into account the interests of various groups in society, including the most vulnerable groups. ANND's strategy stems from the need to build a critical civic mass that is capable of movement and expression and that possesses the required knowledge and auxiliary technical tools in an enabling environment.

ANND adheres to a development vision that links together its five integrated and comprehensive dimensions: the political, the economic, the social, the environmental, and the cultural. On the other hand, the vision constitutes a firm basis stemming from human rights, justice, sustainability, and partnership as a condition for a successful development effort. It also contributed greatly to achieving some progress in the results, which the report will shed light on. The most prominent of these successes is, perhaps, the expansion of relations with international partners and regional and local partnerships with various stakeholders from decision-makers, the private sector, civil society, and academia. It included the involvement of hundreds of activists in ANND's work and activities, especially in capacity building and development programs, multilateral national dialogues, meetings with international institutions, and the production of knowledge materials, policy papers, and analytical and training materials, all of which are available on the network's website.

This year, ANND achieved remarkable developments in institutional building, planning and evaluation tools, human resources, and communication and networking policies.

Despite the difficulties they faced and the challenges that the countries and peoples of the region are experiencing, these achievements would not have been possible without the commitment to ANND principles shown by members, partners, friends, and the executive team as a whole. Please click here to download the full report.

Beirut, February 27, 2023

Ziad Abdel Samad

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