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Imagining the Future: Engaging young people on environmental challenges to create new and sustainable livelihoods in Algeria

Imagining the Future: Engaging young people on environmental challenges to create new and sustainable livelihoods in Algeria


British Academy




March 2020 - January 2022

Project Team

Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey (Principal Investigator)
Prof. Gordon Crawford (Co-Investigator)


Dr. Adel Chiheb, Mohamed Seddik Ben Yahia University, Jijel, Algeria (Co-Investigator)
Prof. Said Chaouki Chakour, University of Jijel, Algeria (Co-Investigator)
Dr. Latefa Guemar (Project Partner, University of East London)
Dr. Patrick Crowley, (Project Partner, University College Cork, Ireland)
Prof. Zahia Salhi (Project Partner, University of Manchester)
Dr. Hamied Mahwies (Project Partner, International Colleges of Islamic Science, London)
Meryem Abdelhafid (Research Assistant, Coventry University)


Steered by a network of youth researchers, this project will investigate and facilitate debate around how to innovate to expand and diversify livelihoods in environmental projects in a pivotal moment in Algerian history.

Creative solutions to tackling environmental challenges have potential to create meaningful employment. These new jobs are often in the informal sector, in associations, or small businesses, which can be valued and supported in different ways. The proposal seeks to capture creative ideas and energy of young people to reconceptualise how they imagine their own futures, as citizens and decision makers in the environmental sector and beyond. What kinds of livelihoods could be created in the 21st century to tackle the challenges facing cities in North Africa? What forms of governance do they conceive as fair and sustainable? How can young people be better involved in policymaking to ensure such imagined futures, livelihoods and work could be possible?


The research investigates root causes of environmental degradation and connections to lack of youth livelihoods, youth disengagement or exclusion from public life, using political ecology, humanities and social sciences methodologies. It aims to draw out the interconnected nature of these socio-ecological challenges. Understanding existing creative responses of young people can enhance capacity to support them to imagine new livelihoods, work or engagement to tackle future environmental problems. The research will have important findings for policy makers and young people across North African and Mediterranean contexts, characterised by high youth unemployment and similar environmental challenges. It focuses on Algeria due to important political changes started in 2019. Heightened youth engagement in politics and the environment renders Algeria an ideal case study to disentangle the complexity of multiple sustainability challenges facing young people.

This proposal aims to explore how young people across different cities in Algeria now view themselves, and what they think is necessary to become citizens capable of influencing policy and politics in the country, creating meaningful livelihoods, protecting their own environments. Building on an established network of youth researchers in Algeria, this proposal has been co-designed by twenty young Algerians from 12 universities across Algeria. It aims to:

  1. Use creative, participatory methodologies, to understand how young Algerians perceive the categories which define them such as citizenship and identity, including how the recent peaceful political mobilisation has affected this, and how symbolic acts such as cleaning up the streets and public spaces have affected their relationships to their local environments.
  2. Understand young people’s creative solutions to the problems regarding the lack of meaningful livelihoods. Might these include new forms of work, activism or civic engagement in the green economy? Are they already tackling other environmental problems such as local pollution, desertification, energy transitions, abandoning of traditional sustainable practices or resource depletion? If so, how could these be expanded?
  3. Value, exchange and disseminate young people’s creativity and solutions, imagining and planning new livelihoods, and strengthen their capacities to engage effectively in political life and policy. It aims to amplify the voice and creativity of young Algerians locally (with regional policy makers), nationally (with relevant ministries) and internationally (through international engagement with UK and global partners) to influence policies around the environment and climate change which will affect their long-term futures.
 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
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