By Azad Essa
Middle East Eye

The dissent that has come to characterise the annual climate conference has been greatly diminished in a host country where activism is criminalised

Climate conferences are usually inclusive forums that bring together world leaders, NGOs, activists and civil society groups. But advocates have told Middle East Eye there is little space for any serious activism at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, also known as Cop27.

A culture of fear, intimidation, and arrests has not only stifled the work of grassroots activism in Egypt over the past decade, but it has also ensured there will be limited mobilisation efforts amongst civil society groups at the conference itself.

“This year’s Cop is very different from previous Cops, especially since there is a lack of engagement from Egyptian civil society and a complete shutdown of all outside engagement and protest at Cop,” Sharif Zakout, a community organiser with the Arab Resource & Organizing Center (Aroc), told MEE.

“I participated in Cop26 and can see the stark difference between the role of civil society at last year’s conference compared to this year,” said Zakout, who is currently representing Aroc as part of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and It Takes Roots delegation at Cop27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh. 

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