New UN Development Programme report highlights the challenges and opportunities of building climate resilience as the region works toward peaceful low-carbon climate-resilient development

26 July 2018,

Amman

“The Arab region is full of potential. Over the past decades, the region has seen significant economic and social progress. Climate risks threaten to derail these development gains. This could disrupt efforts to build peace, cause a spike in ‘eco-migrants,’ and undermine efforts to end hunger, poverty and inequality by 2030,” said Adriana Dinu, Director, Global Environmental Finance, UNDP. 

The region is home to rising levels of conflict and the world’s largest population of refugees and displaced people, according to the report. Simultaneously, it is now the planet’s most water-scarce and food-import-dependent region, and the only region where malnutrition rates have been rising. “The Arab region was the birthplace of agricultural civilization and for thousands of years has been able to cope with risks from climatic hazards. But climate change is now happening at a pace unlike anything before, stretching the ability of societies to cope,” said Mourad Wahba, Assistant Administrator and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for the Arab States. “Over the past decade, the region has witnessed cycles of drought, the frequency and severity of which are beyond anything seen for hundreds of years in the region. This has contributed to situations of famine and food insecurity, loss of livelihoods and life, and the displacement of millions.” The impacts of climate change are exacerbating the existing challenges of sustainably managing limited natural resources across the Arab Region. Climate change-related desertification has expanded, greatly increasing the vulnerability of the local population. The region’s environment is highly vulnerable to rising temperatures, sea-level rise, and increased risks of floods and droughts, according to the report. Current climate change projections show that by the year 2025, the water supply in the Arab region will be only 15percent of levels in 1960. With population growth around 3 per cent annually and deforestation spiking to 4 per cent annually to produce charcoal and fuel the Gum Arabic trade, the region now includes 14 of the world’s 20 most water-stressed countries. In fragile countries such as Somalia, illegal armed groups such as Al-Shabaab have increasingly attracted young people who are affected by drought-induced food insecurity and who have limited job prospects, according to the report findings. UNDP supports countries in the four sub-regions of the Arab region (Mashreq, Maghreb, Arab Gulf and the Horn of Africa) to adapt to climate change impacts and to prepare for disaster risks. Climate change adaptation projects in the region support improved natural resource management practices, diversified incomes, policy support, and ecosystem-based adaptation approaches designed to improve productivity for farmers and pastoralists. “UNDP works closely with our national partners to build the resilience of institutions and communities to anticipate, absorb and adapt to increasingly complex risks from climate change. UNDP has rapidly expanded its support in recent years in this regard, through a strong partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and key bilateral donors. As we empower countries and communities, UNDP promotes integrated solutions to achieve SDG 13 on climate action and the Paris Agreement, while bringing co-benefits for SDGs on food and water security, health, gender equality, combating land degradation and reducing the loss of biodiversity,” said Mahba. “To address the myriad challenges that climate change is bringing to the Arab States, we need to be innovative, we need to be bold, and we need to support the people in building the enabling environments they need to thrive in our fast-changing world,” Dinu said.

Links

Report: Climate Change Adaptation in the Arab States

Executive Summary

UNDP in the Arab States

UNDP Climate Change Adaptation

 UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer a global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations