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Newsletter No.1 - March 1, 2010
Issue No.1 | March 1, 2010 

Issam Fares Institute
IFI Inaugurates 6 Research Programs

  Three years after it launched operations as a policy-oriented research institute at the American University of Beirut (AUB), the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) has inaugurated a series of programs and activities that touch on some of the Arab world's most challenging issues, including climate change and environment, food security, youth, and Palestinian refugee camps. IFI taps the scholarly research of over 300 professors at AUB and other colleagues to enhance debate and decision-making in the Arab world and to strengthen collaboration with researchers and policy-makers around the world.   This newsletter will provide regular updates on IFI activities, including new research, lectures, publications and cooperative activities with colleagues in the region and around the world.

  IFI funds research, holds workshops and conferences, promotes regional consultations, sponsors seminars and lectures, hosts visiting scholars, and publishes the results of its activities in order to disseminate knowledge, raise awareness and expand policy options.

  IFI manages six main research and policy programs: Climate Change and Environment in the Arab World, which focuses initially on the Levant region and the sectors of water and health; Youth in the Arab World, which seeks to become the leading meeting point, catalyst, and central repository for Arab-international research and policy on Arab youth; Policy and Governance in Palestinian Refugee Camps, which integrates and coordinates the considerable body of research that currently exists, and promotes new research to tackle pressing issues related to the camps and their host communities; Research, Advocacy and Public Policy-making in the Arab World, which studies how think tanks and research institutes generate knowledge and how this intersects with the public policy-making systems in the region; International Affairs, which looks at Arab interaction with the world, with an initial focus on the UN in the Middle East Research Initiative that explores the roles, activities and impact of the UN in the region; Food Security and Policy in the Middle East, which investigates trends in food sectors and seeks to provide policy options that could alleviate food crises.

  IFI hosts the Bill and Sally Hambrecht Distinguished Peacemakers Lecture Series that brings a dozen respected international mediators to AUB to share their experiences with the university and the conflict-resolution community, and houses the Nadim Makdisi Memorial Fund which sponsors an annual lecture and offers research grants to AUB graduate students.

  The Institute is funded primarily by the Issam Fares family, and also by AUB and Arab and international donors.

Climate Change / Environment
IFI Presents Report to COP15 World Summit

  The Lebanese Ministry of Environment approached IFI to conduct a study on Climate Change mitigation and adaptation in the energy and agriculture sectors, The National Economic, Environment and Development Study (NEEDS). This inter-faculty AUB study led to the Lebanon NEEDS Country Brief publication, which was distributed, and presented by IFI's Climate Change Forum Faculty Research Director, Dr. Nadim Farajalla (FAFS) at the COP15 World Summit in Copenhagen. IFI's delegation to the Copenhagen summit comprised of IFI's recently appointed Associate Director, Dr. Karim Makdisi (PSPA), Dr. Nadim Farajalla and IFI's Climate Change program coordinator, Ms Sarine Karajerjian (pictured L-R).

  After the COP15 summit in Copenhagen, IFI held its second coordination workshop of regional bodies and experts to discuss post-Copenhagen Climate Change research and policy priorities in the Arab World. At the meeting, IFI presented its findings from its sounding of some 30 climate change experts in the Levant, who listed their top research priorities in climate change for the region.

Research: Arab Youth
IFI and UNICEF Spearhead MENA-wide Situation Analysis
  IFI and UNICEF's MENA regional office have launched an 18-month project to assess the current state of the youth sector across the Arab countries and Iran. The project's several new research studies build on UNICEF's desk review of available data and studies on young people in the region.

  This situation analysis is managed by UNICEF and AUB-IFI but is an interagency initiative, bringing together UN agencies and other relevant partners and stakeholders, including young people, as key participants in the process.

  This joint venture will create a collaborative mechanism involving key decision makers, which will impact future youth-related policies and work towards enhancing the lives and opportunities of young people in the region.

Research Project in Focus
Media Habits of Middle Eastern Youth

  A new pilot study, sponsored by the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, conducted by Dr. Jad Melki of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (FAS), initially focuses research on three countries (Lebanon, Jordan, UAE), as part of a larger project, to examine media consumption and production habits among youth in the Middle East and North Africa.

  The project aims to generate a status report on how Middle Eastern youth demographics access and generate news and information - particularly print, broadcast, satellite, mobile, online, and Web 2.0 media.

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Nadim Makdisi Memorial Fund
Nora Boustany: "Finding Our Niche in the Narratives of Nations"

Nora Boustany, IFI's second Writer-in-Residence, inaugurated the annual Nadim Makdisi Memorial Fund lecture, 18 January 2010.

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Bill and Sally Hambrecht Peacemakers Lectures
Lakhdar Brahimi: "Making and Keeping the Peace"

Former Algerian Foreign Minister and UN Mediator and Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi gave a public lecture as part of the Bill and Sally Hambrecht Distinguished Peacemakers Lecture Series at AUB, 21 January 2010.

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International Affairs
Alastair Crooke: "Islamists: Re-conceptualizing 'Moderates' and 'Extremists'"

IFI recently hosted Alastair Crooke, Director of Conflicts Forum and author of the newly published "Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution". The lecture was followed by a book signing at the AUB bookstore.

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UN in the Middle East Research Initiative
Salman Abu Sitta: "Palestine: Reversing Ethnic Cleansing"

In collaboration with the Political Studies and Public Administration department, AUB-IFI hosted Salman Abu Sitta, Founder and President of Palestine Land Society and General Coordinator of the Right of Return Congress (al-Awda). Abu Sitta addressed a packed auditorium, 14 January 2010.

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Climate Change / Environment
Mark Zeitoun: "The Roots and Future of Water Conflicts in the Middle East"

IFI with the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture hosted Mark Zeitoun, senior lecturer at the School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK. Zeitoun's primary research interests relate to trans-boundary water interaction, water policy and water negotiations.

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