The Arab region is particularly susceptible to climate change, with temperatures rising faster than the global average. Moreover, it is also the most-water scarce and food-import dependent region in the world. These vulnerabilities have contributed to various forms of social unrest, exacerbated conflicts, and driven the displacement of large numbers of people.
The Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction have stressed that for development to be sustainable and resilient to shocks, it must integrate climate change and disaster into short-term responses, and long-term planning. Likewise, the Secretary General’s Strategy and Roadmap for financing Agenda 2030 calls on stakeholders to scale up climate finance, and enhance sustainable financing strategies and investments at all levels, and across the different, but interlinked spheres of work.
Against this background, the League of Arab States (LAS), the Arab Water Council (AWC) and multiple UN agencies (UNDP, UNEP-FI, WFP, UN-Habitat, UNDRR) have launched a regional project with the title “SDG- Climate Facility Project: Climate Action for Human Security” (2019-2022) that aims to enhance the capacity of regional and national institutions to address climate change in a way that brings benefits across multiple goals, while also reducing the impacts of conflict and crises.
With attention to addressing overall challenges of climate change, poverty and human insecurity in the Arab States, the project will have particular focus on generating results in crisis affected areas. The interconnectedness between climate and security has become an increasingly important agenda for policy makers in the Arab region and beyond. Understanding the interface between the two, and their impact on critical challenges such as increasing displacement and migration induced by resources scarcity are necessary for effective responses, and enabling resilient and sustainable development. Yet, there is limited knowledge attention by international and regional partners. Through both regional activities and local country level initiatives, the project will help identify pilot solutions that bring together climate actions with crisis prevention/recovery goals, with particular benefits for communities in areas affected by protracted crisis, which are often hotspots of both climate risks and conflicts. These activities will generate important tangible benefits for local communities, as well as models intended for possible replication and upscaling through the regional platforms and activities supporting the project, in particular the planned SDG-Climate Facility.
The Arab Water Council has taken the lead in a number of climate-security related activities, which requires a coordinated approach among the activities, as well as with other partners of the project, in particular LAS, UNDP, and WFP, necessitating some dedicated support to ensure coherence and synergies.