The livestream below will begin at the time of the event.

The Middle East faces a gathering crisis as a fast-changing natural world intersects with other regional challenges. How should the region and U.S. foreign policy adapt to reckon with this crisis? In a new Century Foundation policy working paper series, “Nature and National Security in the Middle East,” experts from within the region and outside explore the linkages between environment and security in Gaza, Iraq, the Jordan river basin, the Nile river basin, Syria, and Yemen, alongside essays on Middle Eastern environmental activism and the roles of the international community and United States. 

Join us on Thursday, December 17, 10:00–11:00 AM ET for a discussion with the authors of these newly released policy papers to learn more about the Middle East’s environmental challenges and what they mean for the future of both the Middle East and America’s foreign policy. 

Please register to obtain the Zoom link.

Introductory Remarks:

  • Daniel Benaim, project director, Nature and National Security in the Middle East
  • Mark Zuckerman, president, The Century Foundation


  • Azzam Alwash, founder, Nature Iraq 
  • Dr. Marwa Daoudy, associate professor of international relations, Georgetown University 
  • Hafsa Halawa, nonresident scholar, Middle East Institute 
  • Moderator: Peter Schwartzstein, journalist-in-residence, Center for Climate and Security 

Speaker Bios

Azzam Alwash’s work on the restoration of Iraq’s marshes earned him the Takreem Award in 2011 and the Goldman Environmental Prize for the 2013. He was on the Foreign Policy Group’s list of one hundred forward-thinking leaders of the world in 2013. He is also a founder and a trustee of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani.

Daniel Benaim is a fellow at The Century Foundation. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and part-time faculty in the Program in International Relations at New York University (NYU). Benaim works on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Previously, he served as Middle East policy adviser and foreign policy speechwriter at the White House, the Department of State, and the U.S. Senate. He was also an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr. Marwa Daoudy is associate professor of international relations and the Seif Ghobash Chair in Arab Studies at Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. Her second book, The Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate Change and Human Security, was published in March 2020 by Cambridge University Press. 

Hafsa Halawa is a nonresident scholar at the Middle East Institute, and an independent consultant working on political, social, and economic affairs and development goals across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.

Peter Schwartzstein is an Athens-based environmental journalist and consultant, who works on water, food security, and conflict-climate issues across the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Mediterranean. His work mostly appears in National Geographic. He is also a non-resident fellow and the Journalist-in-Residence at the Center for Climate and Security and a TED fellow.

Mark Zuckerman is president of The Century Foundation. He served in the Obama White House as the deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council, leading teams on key initiatives, including reducing student debt, increasing accountability at for-profit educational institutions, reducing workplace discrimination, increasing wages for home health care workers, and expanding access to job training. Prior to that, as staff director of the House Education and Labor Committee, he helped win passage of landmark legislation such as the Affordable Care Act; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act; and the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.