Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Middle East and MENA region particularly vulnerable to climate change

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the forefront of assessing and monitoring global water resources, has developed in collaboration with GRID-Arendal, a Norvegian Research Institute, a map presenting information on water resources use and management for 30 years. This study is particularly useful for policy-makers to implement effective environmental decision-making.

According to Population Action International, more than 2.8 billion people in 48 countries will face water scarcity conditions by 2025
The impacts of human-induced climate change are often considered a future prospect, yet in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), indications of a changing climate are already evident.
Most of the predicted outcomes associated with international climate models are already occurring in the region, compounding existing problems of water scarcity, water pollution,desertification, salinization, and sea-level rise. Since most of the MENA region is arid and hyperarid, small changes in water availability and arable land have significant consequences for human security. Human-induced climate change, through effects on the variability and quality of scarce and degraded water resources,  exacerbates already existing problems affecting urban and rural development, human health, and economic productivity in MENA.
The Belfer Center for Science and international Affairs, at Harvard University, published in September an interesting working paper written by Jeannie Sowers and Erika Weinthal entitled "Climate Change Adaptation in the Middle East and North Africa: Challenges and Opportunities". 
The document provides information on a number of proactive measures to adapt to climate change that could be encompassed within existing policies for the water and agriculture sectors. These include upgrading and extending water harvesting and storage infrastructures; improving demand management of water and agricultural efficiencies; extending sanitation systems, particularly to rural areas and informal urban areas, to safeguard water supplies and human health; and fostering local and provincial capacities to deal with existing water/agricultural problems.


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