How Conflict and Occupation Limits Development

TYO had the pleasure of sending three representatives to the Eighteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar. On behalf of TYOs efforts in the West Bank, I participated on a panel presentation on the impact of climate change in conflict zones when human rights are neglected. Conflicts can contribute in direct and indirect ways to climate change.

In Palestine, unequal water distribution and limited water recourses are a major issue, which Palestinians have no control of. Israel controls the water and according to a report released by Amnesty International, “The 450,000 Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.”

Electricity in the West Bank is also out of Palestinians' hands and it can cut it off at any time. Because of the high tax placed on the Palestinians in purchasing electricity, cities are often unable to meet the high costs. In response to the lack of payments, this threatens the flow of electricity in the West Bank regularly. The unsureness of if and when electricity will be available creates lack of security among Palestinians.

The restrictions on movement related to the division of Palestinian land also creates frustration throughout Palestinian communities. People cannot move from one city to another without checkpoints and there are some places people can never reach. Additionally, permits are required to visit Jerusalem and other cities outside of the West Bank. The restrictions on movements have negative impacts on daily life but also limits the expansions of businesses.

I presented a case study to support the claim that the conflict Palestinians face, due to occupation, which limits utilizing the human capacity in developing Palestinian communities. Ayat, from Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus in the northern West Bank, developed Green Technologies Inc in 2010 and also participated in TYO's Women’s Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs (WISE). I shared Ayat’s story as an example of how occupation and conflict can hinder human production and discourage active participation in communities. Ayat is a young, educated Palestinian female who is working tirelessly to excel in her dream of being a female entrepreneur in order to gain financial independence and thus be her own decision-maker.

When Ayat first started her business plan, she faced a harsh reality that she likely could not move forward to make her dream come true because of her inability to travel freely within Palestine. This lack of mobility posed difficulties in collecting the materials she needed to launch and sustain her business. Due to these restrictions, Ayat has had to sacrifice her business plan and adjust.

TYO believes that participating conferences such as COP 18 is an essential step in networking with other countries who have experienced life in conflict zones. Through these connections we can better highlight the lack of human rights by linking it to climate change. TYO will continue to foster ideas and creativity among youth to develop environmentally friendly projects and to become more involved in Palestinian development.


Suhad is the Psychosocial Program Manager at TYO and a participant of COP 18 2012.