Sea-level rise could lead to the inundation of the region's lengthy coastal areas, where the majority of the population lives, and lead to significant
structural damage. In urban areas in North Africa, a temperature increase of 1-3 degrees could expose 6-25 million people to flooding. Rising tides and further erosion are also a particular threat to the region's small-island states, as well as the natural and man-made islands in the Gulf. In addition, salt water intrusion could contaminate ground water, leading to severe land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Water Scarcity and Desertification
Six of the ten most water stressed countries in the world are Arab countries and 90% of its surface area lies within arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas.
Higher temperatures and decreased rainfall due to climate change is already reducing the flow of rivers and streams, slowing the rate at which aquifers recharge, and rendering the entire region more arid. Many sectors rely heavily on the sustainability of water supplies, and the impact of water scarcity on livelihoods in the region has increased migration to urban areas, where the provision of adequate infrastructure and public services for a growing population will be a major challenge.
Food Security and Rural Livelihoods
Increasing dryness and desertification due to higher average temperatures will negatively affect agriculture productivity, food security, and could
threaten efforts to improve nutrition. Additionally, both rural areas will become more vulnerable to damage by forceful flash flooding. Overall, agriculture yields are expected to fluctuate and to fall to lower averages over the long-term.
Dangerous Extreme-Weather Events
Climate change is projected to lead to more severe events such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, cyclones and dust storms, and the Arab region, in particular, has recently experienced an increasing number of these. Although the damage associated with these events has rarely been quantified, primary estimates indicate huge economic, social and environmental losses that could constrain human development in many countries.
Economic Prosperity and Livelihoods
Climate change presents threats to economic prosperity in this region where over 14% of the workforce is already unemployed. It will impact all sectors of development in the Arab region, diminishing water supplies, depleting coastal and agricultural resources, dragging on tourism and public health. Tourism and agriculture are especially sensitive to changes in temperature and the frequency of extreme events and heat waves. In some Arab countries, over 50% of the work force is employed in the agricultural sector, so declines in agricultural productivity or viability will have a major impact on employment.
Algiers, Algeria, 11-13 October, 2011
UNDP and the Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria convened a preparatory, regional workshop for this year’s UN Climate Change COP17. Delegates to these negotiations took the opportunity to review and engage in dialogue over the key themes to be addressed at this year’s negotiations. Participants included high-level stakeholders and experts from a range of multilateral institutions, major research bodies, and the private sector
For more information, please see the event page
The Arab Climate Resilience Initiative (ACRI) is a UNDP programme that aims to address the challenges of climate change by connecting stakeholders in the Arab States to innovative knowledge, partnerships and solutions. More on the Initiative