The World Bank in its “Adaptation to Climate Change in the MENA Region” predicted that this region being particularly vulnerable to climate change, it should do more to adapt to water scarcity and heat and adjust all institutional mechanisms to deal with these environmental constraints. Environmental awareness in the Arab world posted on The Arab Weekly of 17 Novembre 2019 is a good illustration of this latest trend.
Lebanon was the country with the strongest concerns about climate change in general, followed by Tunisia and Egypt.
Climate change is a global emergency that respects no borders but results from a recent survey revealed that, when it comes to convincing MENA populations to come to grips with the crisis, substantial barriers remain.
Recent data gathered by Arab Barometer, a nonpartisan research network that has conducted opinion surveys across the region since 2006, indicated that a strong majority of respondents said they were “very concerned” about water and trash pollution (70% and 66%, respectively). Both issues are immediate problems that MENA residents must often deal with directly and can see with their own eyes daily.
However, when it came to more abstract or long-term environmental issues, such as climate change and air quality, fewer survey respondents said they were very worried (35% and 44%, respectively).
Opinions showed no significant variations across age and gender groups. However, more educated and affluent respondents expressed slightly stronger concerns about climate change in general.
The survey uncovered dividing lines geographically: Residents in rural areas were more likely to view climate change as a “very serious” problem than those living in urban environments.
Lebanon was the country with the strongest concerns about climate change in general, followed by Tunisia and Egypt, but national differences on specific issues were the starkest. Air quality was considered a “very serious” problem for 57% of respondents in Libya but only for 25% of those surveyed in Kuwait.
The survey adds credence to the argument that a region-wide effort must be made to build awareness about climate change.
This article by Achref Chibani dated May 21, 2018 was published by ecoMENA on the increasingly overbearing effects of climate change on the whole of the Arab World. We republish this article with our compliments to the author and thanks to the publisher and above all for a further spread of the wise words held there in. More reading on the subject would be found in the World Bank‘s that has touched on the same subject reiterating the alarm message of Climate Change impact on the MENA region.
In the meantime, here is, for a closer at the ground, Ashref’s essay.
Climate Change Impacts on Public Health: Perspectives for Arab World
Climate change is not only affecting the economies of Arab world but also having detrimental impacts on the very fabric of society, through threats to public health and livelihoods. Climate change in the Arab world is also exacerbating social inequalities, hitting the rural poor the hardest.
This is not a reason for complacency amongst the wealthy urban classes. Basic humanitarianism aside, history suggests that physical hardships can breed wider unrest: a body of evidence suggests that poor harvests caused by a major Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 1783 triggered no less an event that the French Revolution.
Extreme weather events and spread of diseases
With the Arab world already plagued by endemic unemployment and high inequality, it would be easy to see how global warming could play a significant role in socio-economic development and future political and geo-political events.
There is no doubt that, globally, we are seeing a much higher incidence of extreme weather events than seen since record-keeping began. Aside from a few nay-sayers, the scientific consensus is that climate change is causing extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, floods and cyclones. It is putting increasing pressure on crops and crop yields, both through more extreme temperatures and increase in insect attacks; it is creating a fertile environment for the spread of epidemics.
Impacts on public health
Climate change is adversely affecting our health which is becoming more severe with each passing year. The human catastrophe caused by violent sandstorms is not limited to the recent tragic events in India. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledges that sandstorm dust is a major source of respiratory diseases in several countries, particularly in the Middle East & North Africa.
MENA region has been regularly witnessing extreme weather events in recent years
Climate change is impacting on wind patterns, which in turn is contributing to the transfer of dust, pollen, bacteria, mold and other allergens, in the air, especially in extreme heat. Morocco and Algeria have experienced unprecedented pandemics and outbreaks of diseases such as tuberculosis and scabies that were, until recently, considered things of the past.
Well-established infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue are again on the prowl, and various new diseases, such as Rift Valley Fever and Horse Plague, are emerging.
Time for action
Research has shown that the average temperature in the MENA region will increase by around 2 degrees Celsius by 2050 in parallel with a depletion of the ozone layer protecting us from cancer-inducing higher levels of ultraviolet. These sobering facts should goad us into action.
While it may be too late to prevent much of climate change occurring, we are not yet too late to mitigate its worst impacts. Individuals, corporations and governments all need to accelerate programmes to minimize further worsening climate change, alongside introducing adaptation measures to reduce the health consequences associated with known climate change impacts. MENA governments need to do much more to incentivize the reduction in greenhouse gas and particulates emissions. We are well-placed to benefit from the advances in solar power and battery storage technologies – in our cars, our businesses and in our homes.
Crop biodiversity needs to be fostered; alongside programmes to ensure heat and drought-resistant crops are being planted in high-risk areas. Sustainability needs to be embraced at every level in society – from building design and manufacturing processes to end-of-life recycling. Medical sector also needs to be prepared to deal with changing patterns because of climate change, to avoid significant negative impacts on vulnerable communities.
Climate change is a world problem, but Arab countries will be amongst the worst affected if we don’t act now. It should therefore be a top priority on our governments’ agendas to protect their citizens before it is too lat
Doha – Many coastal cities in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region would be flooded if sea levels rise, the Al-Attiyah Foundation has said in its recent Sustainability Digest.
The literature on climate change risks in the MENA region has focused mainly on the issues of temperature increase and water scarcity, as both phenomena have been directly affecting the populations, it said.
“However, there are lesser known issues, such as sea-level rise. This is a risk to the population and national security challenge for Qatar since 96% of the population is living on coastal areas – with most in the capital city of Doha. Many coastal cities in the region would also be flooded if sea levels rise,” the Al-Attiyah Foundation said.
In the digest, the Al-Attiyah Foundation also explored the implications and challenges of the climatic impacts already evident in many regions of the world, with countless nations focusing on adaptation.
Adaptation is the process in which nations adjust to the current effects of climate change while preparing for future challenges. It refers to the practical actions, strategies, and processes that seek to lower the risks posed by these changes, as well as make the most beneficial opportunities, such as longer planting seasons or increased crop production in certain areas.
Climate change mitigation denotes actions that limit the magnitude and/or rate of long-term climate change and generally involves a reduction in human (anthropogenic) emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The ever-growing threat of climate change requires strategic intervention on both fronts: Adaptation and mitigation.
“An abundance of evidence demonstrates that there is a need to urgently assess vulnerabilities and identify adaptation options. Early planning can help to reduce further the adverse impacts of climate change. Governments, society and individuals must work together to create a sustainable future which will inevitably require changes in behaviour, innovative technologies and practices,” the Al-Attiyah Foundation noted.
It said, “The two words that are hitting global headlines daily; causing huge concern for some and potentially ignored by many. The World Economic Forum (WEF) suggests we are sleep-walking into a catastrophe, whilst others believe innovation, collaboration and swift action now, could reverse the trend.”
In January this year, the WEF released its Global Risks Report 2019 on the major threats to the world economy. For the third year in a row, the report stated that environmental-related risks account for three of the top five global risks by likelihood, and four of the top five risks by economic impact, namely, failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation; extreme weather events; water crises and natural disasters.
The report bleakly concluded that of all the risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly not doing enough.
New research by AESG outlines key Urban Resilience design principles and best-practices and provides insight to enable cities to better mitigate the impact of climate change.
68% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050
There is a proven correlation between increases in urbanization and climate change
Therefore, it is imperative for governments, city planners and developers to future-proof their cities by investing in urban resilience programs
With 68% of the world’s population expected to live in urban areas by 2050 and a proven correlation between increases in urbanization and climate change, it is imperative for governments, city planners and developers to future-proof their cities by investing in urban resilience programs. AESG, an international Specialist Consulting, Engineering and Advisory firm, has released a new research article which presents clear guidance on urban resilience concepts and best practices. The company intends for this report, titled ‘Urban resilience: A look into global climate change impacts and possible design mitigation’, to aid governments, city planners, engineers, architects and developers in building resilient cities that can better tackle the urban challenges resulting from climate change.
Saeed Al Abbar, Managing Director at AESG advocates the need for a concerted effort by these stakeholders to mitigate the climate change impact on cities through better urban planning. “While the effects of climate change can be detrimental, a large majority of these can be alleviated by strengthening interdependent infrastructure systems and ensuring resilience on infrastructure, policy and economic basis,” he said.
“Building resilience in cities is essential to not only make populations and infrastructure less susceptible to damage and loss but to also make them more agile to the unpredictable nature of climate change impacts. We are at a pivotal moment in human history, and the actions we take today will bear a profound impact on the security and quality of life, of us, and our future generations,” he added.
The report, developed by AESG’s qualified team of sustainability, environmental and planning experts, stresses that achieving urban resilience necessitates planning a city at a macro-level, understanding interdependencies of its systems and implementing solutions to mitigate the anticipated risks. In addition to reporting the key climate-related threats that cities today face, the article expertly analyses the innovative locational, structural and regulatory approaches being implemented globally to address a myriad of urban challenges.
Briefly summarizing the insight and guidance detailed in these best practices, Al Abbar said. “For city and municipal governments, resilience implies planning development, providing safe and affordable infrastructure and services, regulating building design and construction, regulating hazardous activities, influencing land availability and construction requirements, encouraging and supporting household and community actions to reduce risk, and finally, putting in place effective disaster early warning, preparedness, and response systems.”
Climate Action in the Middle East North Africa (CAMENA) invests EUR 4 million in the GGF to attract private capital for helping the region fight climate change; together with EUR 5 million EIB investment, the contribution further strengthens GGF’s capacity for financing and promoting green energy measures.
The Green for Growth Fund (GGF), an impact investment fund advised by Finance in Motion, has attracted EUR 4 million in dedicated funding from the initiative Climate Action in the Middle East North Africa (CAMENA). Combined with EUR 5 million in support from the European Investment Bank (EIB) through the Luxembourg-EIB Climate Finance Platform in 2018, the GGF has increased its capacity to leverage further private investments for green lending in the region.
Created with the support of the U.K. Department for International Development, CAMENA is managed by the EIB as an initiative to help countries in the Southern Mediterranean fight climate change by funding targeted climate initiatives and vehicles, like the GGF. The EIB is also supporting the GGF’s efforts to drive climate action by providing additional funding through the Luxembourg-EIB Climate Finance Platform. The investments will be used to strengthen the GGF’s “C-shares”, a special risk-absorbing layer that enables the fund to attract private capital – which is crucial for channelling higher volumes of investment to achieve maximum impact.
The GGF has seen remarkable growth in its MENA investment portfolio, which increased by over 50% in volume in 2018 to cross the EUR 133 million mark. The GGF leverages public and private capital to fund pioneering green energy initiatives such as the Phoenix 50MW sub-project of the Benban Solar Park in Egypt, the largest solar farm in the world.
“Mobilising private finance for climate action projects in the MENA region is a key priority for the EU Bank. That is why I am very pleased that we have finalised this investment in the Green for Growth Fund. We believe this support is an important signal of confidence in the fund’s potential. We expect that our commitment, which is strengthening the special risk absorbing a layer of the fund, will attract additional finance from the private sector to support transformative green energy projects in the region” said Barbara Boos, head of the Infrastructure Funds and Climate Action division of the EIB.
“As a co-initiator of the GGF, EIB has been instrumental in supporting green energy initiatives in the MENA region through their trust funds. We value partners like the EIB, whose contributions absorb market risks so as to attract additional private investments, thus helping to make green finance mainstream,” said GGF Chairman Olaf Zymelka. “These kinds of initiatives enable funds like the GGF to become a testament to the power public capital can wield in engaging private capital,” he added.
Lloyd Stevens, Director at GGF advisor Finance in Motion, added: “The MENA region is highly susceptible to climate change on account of its water scarcity, high dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture, and concentration of population and economic activity in urban coastal zones. Therefore, we consider it crucial for the GGF to have a positive environmental impact in the region by promoting energy and resource efficiency, and the development of renewable energy sources.” Distributed by APO Group on behalf of European Investment Bank (EIB). Media files
The alliance is the brainchild of Moaz Fine, an Israeli professor at Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University, who invited marine experts from the countries that border the Red Sea to collaborate at a new research centre. The team will comprise representatives from Israel, Eritrea, Jordan and Egypt, with scientists from Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Djibouti, which do not recognise Israel.
The countries have put aside political differences in the interests of protecting the natural world they share.
Coping with stress
Scientists, ecologists and oceanographers will come together at the new research centre, based in Bern, Switzerland, to study the impact of bleaching on the Red Sea reefs.
Bleaching occurs when coral reacts to changes in sea temperature, light conditions or nutrients. As global warming increases water temperatures, the delicate balance of reef ecosystems is disrupted, forcing coral to eject the algae that live and feed on them.
What is coral bleaching?
The stressed coral turns white and although it isn’t dead at this point, if the algae loss is prolonged it becomes vulnerable to disease and can eventually die.
But it’s not just coral that is affected when bleaching occurs, as algae forms the foundation of multiple food chains. When algae disappears, creatures higher up the food chain disappear too, turning bleached reefs into underwater deserts.
As well as hosting millions of plant and marine species, reefs often support employment and tourism in coastal communities. The Red Sea reefs attract diving enthusiasts from all over the world, attracted by colourful marine life and indigenous red and black corals. Their loss could have devastating environmental and economic consequences for current and future generations.
It is hoped that the new research centre will help develop more resilient corals, which will protect reefs and the livelihoods of people who depend on them.