Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World

Environmentalism and the Muslim World

A special series of webinars exploring climate change and climate action across the Muslim world to mark the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference 2021.


The COP26 UN Climate Change Conference took place in Glasgow in November 2021, bringing together heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

The effects of environmental degradation, including climate change and water scarcity, are felt most severely by the world's poor, a disproportionate number of whom are Muslims. Unfortunately, governments of Muslim societies have been slow to respond to environmental problems. Nonetheless, environmental awareness and activism are growing throughout the Muslim world.

With this in mind, and to mark  the COP26, the Alwaleed Centre at the University of Edinburgh hosted a special webinar series featuring leading academics, experts, practitioners, and activists in the fields of religion, politics, and social science to highlight diverse climate change issues and climate action across the Muslim world.

All webinars in the series were recorded and the videos can be view below.

Webinar 1: Opening Keynote: Wednesday 6th October 2021, 5pm BST WATCH VIDEO

Anna M. Gade (University of Wisconsin-Madison): 'Climate Change Ethics in Islamic Perspective'

In this presentation, Anna M. Gade builds on material in her book, Muslim Environmentalisms (Columbia University Press, 2019), which explains how the idea of "the environment" is an ethical idea.  Climate change considered as a matter of environmental justice (EJ) means developing new scales and connections of theory and practice as environmental ethics.  These are reflected by the distinguished presentations in this series on topics such as sustainability and development programs, community activism and engagement, and case studies from the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia. In the context of discussions at the upcoming COP26 summit in Scotland, Islam's consequential relations relate not only theory to practice, law to ethics, but also this world to the next in the context of climate justice.

Anna M. Gade holds a doctorate in the History of Religions (Islamic Studies specialization) from the University of Chicago. She has taught at many institutions in the US and abroad, including New Zealand and Indonesia. She is currently Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Education in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, USA.  She has been conducting fieldwork-based research in the region of Southeast Asia since the 1990s.  Author of two books on the Qur'an, among others, her most recent single-authored book is Muslim Environmentalisms: Religious and Social Foundations (Columbia University Press, 2019).

Introductions: Frédéric Volpi 

Frédéric is the director of Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World and chair of Politics of the Muslim World, Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. 

Respondent: Hanane Benadi (London School of Economics)

Hanane is a former IASH-Alwaleed Postdoctoral Fellow and anthropologist of the Middle East, working at the intersection of ethics, politics, and religion.

Chair: Kholoud Al-Ajarma (University of Edinburgh)

Kholoud is Alwaleed Lecturer in the Globalised Muslim World. Her current research focuses on water scarcity and environmental issues in the Mediterreanian region.

Webinar 2: Wednesday 20th October, 5pm BST WATCH VIDEO

The Climate Crisis and Muslim Responses

Our second webinar focuses on some of the current debates related to Muslim environmentalism in the face of climate change. Expert speakers will discuss Islamic approaches to climate change and climate action and their relationship to global response to climate change.


Dina Abdelzaher (University of Houston-Clear Lake): 'Eco Islam: the what, the how and the next?'

Dina is Associate Professor of Management in the College of Business at University of Houston-Clear Lake. Her research examines corporates' social and environmental responsibility and the global challenges they face in their sustainability pursuit, including the impact of cultural/religious norms on climate change adaptation.

Ibrahim Ozdemir (Uskudar University): 'Al-Mizan (Balance) as a framework for Islamic Environmental Ethics and Sustainability'

Ibrahim is a renowned environmentalist and professor of philosophy at Uskudar University, Turkey. He is the former Director General of Turkey’s Ministry of Education and the Founding Vice-Chancellor of Hasan Kalyoncu University.

Najma Mohamed (Green Economy Coalition): 'Reviving Islam’s liberation eco-theology in the era of climate justice'

Najma has a background in climate, environment and sustainable development and has been involved in transformative and inclusive approaches to policy and practice. She has written extensively on the ecological message of Islam and has been active in faith-based ecological action. She is the policy director at the Green Economy Coalition, the world’s largest movement for a just transition to green and fair economies.

Chair: Jacob Doherty (University of Edinburgh)

Jacob is a Lecturer in Anthropology of Development researching the environmental politics of waste and mobility infrastructures in urban Africa. His book Waste Worlds: Inhabiting Kampala’s Infrastructures of Disposability will be published later this year by University of California Press.

Webinar 3: Wenesday 3rd November, 5pm GMT WATCH VIDEO

Responding to Climate Change: Muslim national and international approaches

Our third webinar focus on governmental (state-level) and international responses to climate change. Expert speakers will discuss how Muslim governments are responding to climate change and what steps are being taken to insure the availability of renewable energy, healthy food, and clean water to local communities as well as the role played by national and international organizations in climate change mitigation.


Anna Grieser (AKU-ISMC): 'Climate change in Gilgit-Baltistan and responses from AKAH and the government'

Anna is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC). She works on a project that investigates the sustainability of rural and urban community-based water supplies in Gilgit-Baltistan/ Pakistan. She has published on water management, insecurity and uncertainty in Gilgit.

Kamran Shezad (Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences) and Alessandra Palange (UCL Institute of Education): 'Muslim Environmental Activism in the UK'

Kamran is the Director for the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences and the Climate Change & Sustainability Lead for the Bahu Trust. He also serves on the Civil Society and Youth Council Advisory Board for the Presidency of COP26.

Alessandra is a PhD researcher at the UCL Institute of Education. She’s also an outreach coordinator for Zero Hour, the alliance that is campaigning for the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill. Her academic interests include the anthropology of Islam, Muslim education, contemporary social movements and democratic citizenship.

Nana Firman (GreenFaith): 'Making Hijrah toward Climate Justice'

Nana is Outreach Director for GreenFaith, a global multi-faith and spiritual environment and climate action network. She has experience in advocacy and awareness-raising on environmental degradation and the climate crisis.

Chair: David Farrier (University of Edinburgh)

David is Professor of Literature and the Environment. He is the author of Anthropocene Poetics: Deep Time, Sacrifice Zones, and Extinction (Minnesota Press, 2019), a study of contemporary environmental poetry, and Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils (4th Estate/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020) exploring what traces of present societies will persist in the deep future.

 Webinar 4: Wednesday 17th November, 12pm GMT WATCH VIDEO

Varieties of Religion and Ecology: Religious and cultural responses to environmental concern

This webinar brings together contributors to the book Varieties of Religion and Ecology: Dispatches from Indonesia to share their ethnographic field studies and discuss critical environmental problems  and their relationship with culture and religion, such as water resource management, conservation, and political ecology. Click here for further information about the book.


Zainal Abidin Bagir (Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia): 'The Varities of Religion and Ecology – An Introduction'

Zainal is Director of the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies and Lecturer at the Center of Religious and Cross Cultural Studies, Graduate School, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. His main interests are religion and ecology, and religion and human rights, especially with regard to contemporary developments in Indonesia.

Haryani Saptaningtyas (PhD Radbound University): 'Purification in Islamic Thought and Pollution of the Citarum river in West Java'

Haryani holds a PhD in Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies from the Radboud University. Her research focuses on the relation between people’s perceptions of pollution (of Upper Citarum river) and purification (in Islamic teaching and local narratives) and their practices of water use. She is a lecturer at the post graduate program in the department of community development/CSR, Sebelas Maret University, Surakarta, Central Java.

Ali Ilham Almujaddidy (Gadjah Mada University): 'Progressive Muslim Environmentalism in Indonesia'

Ali is based at the Institute of International Studies, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. His research focuses on religion, ecology, and environmental politics.

* Frans Wijsen will also be present for the Q&A session. Frans is Professor of Practical Religious Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and Visiting Professor at the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Chair: Michael Northcott (University of Edinburgh/Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies)

Michael is Professor Emeritus of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh. He is best known for his contributions to environmental theology and ethics.