Transboundary Water situation of the MENA region

Transboundary Water situation of the MENA region

The following outlines one particular area where to build low-carbon, resilient societies that share the same transboundary water situation of the MENA region.

The region is generally one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, enduring extremely high temperatures, desertification, water scarcity, degraded marine and coastal ecosystems and high levels of air pollution.  

Jordan has launched a US$600 million project in 2007 to pump water from its Disi aquifer in the south, signalling an end in sight to the kingdom’s chronic water shortage, experts and government officials say. But as it happens, it is not as simple as that.

It is argued that there are striking differences between the social, environmental, economic, and political perspectives of any groundwater essentiality between different countries.  Thus, international law has been focused on this source of water. This is especially acute if critically relying on the groundwater that could be up to 97% of the whole water resources.

Al Disi Aquifer is known as a non-rechargeable type, as it is separated from any surface water or any water source. Accordingly, this aquifer is difficult to be sustainably utilized; its water, labelled fossil has been accumulated over a long time.

It is in the Arabian Peninsula, mostly in Saudi Arabia, but part of it is in Jordan. Jordan is a country of mostly arid land, with limited sources of water that has been and still is experiencing the hydro-hegemony influence of its other neighbour, i.e., Israel.  In other words, the Jordan River, which is the only source of water in Jordan is being dominated and used by Israel, despite a certain agreement between the two countries.

Jordan has the scarcest water availability, suffering an extreme shortage of water, and its land is almost all arid, furthermore, it is considered affected by the hegemony of its neighbours’ concept, where most water resources are utilized without any restraints.  Therefore, Jordan has focused on other sources like the Disi aquifer to maintain its basic needs of water.

Saudi Arabia’s land is arid with no underground water resources.  Their economic development must have been oriented towards utilizing the fossil fuel that became the main source of the economy.  The government focused on developing the agriculture of wheat mainly, to maintain certain food security, which contribute only to 1.7 of their GDP.  It is assumed by the Draft Synthesis Report that agriculture had been supported by the government, but it is mainly dependent on the underground to the extent that some aquifers have dried up leading the government to recently stop its funding of the farming companies.

Al Disi aquifer is a very important source of freshwater for that area, located between Jordan and Saudi Arabia. This is due to its efficiency in the sustainable development of water with the environmental ecological balance.  This aquifer lies in the huge area of almost all of Jordan and extends to the area of Tabuk that is in Saudi Arabia, comprising a confined type of groundwater aquifers.  The City of Aqaba depends on the Disi aquifer as a main source of water.  It is assumed to be an area of free trade and depend on tourism and investments even in times of shortage in the supply of water.  The project of the Red Sea to Amman from the Jordan River will initiate an alternative water supply to Al Disi, and the water from the latter will be used in Aqaba city.

It is expected that Jordan will have less water in the future, and farming will suffer a shortage of water, according to the increasing pressure on water demand for domestic purposes. This is due to the significant increase in the refugees that came to Jordan from different neighbouring countries like Iraq and Syria.  To this end, many assume that Jordan has reached an extreme shortage of water, and the Jordanian authorities should rely on other resources like the Jordan River, and co-operational negotiation is significantly essential to initiate more projects like the Red Sea-Dead Sea project will be very helpful to fill the gap of water needs.

Yet the most disappointing results of the situation of the watershed in Jordan is that both the Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers, which are the main sources of surface water, are suffering from extreme drawbacks, either from over abstracting or building dams for hydroelectric by neighbours.  Thus, the most significant finding of this situation is that the aquifer water is important for Jordan natural resources, according to Musa Hantash, the Jordanian water secretary, saying that the “Al-Disi should be protected as national wealth for coming generations,” this is due to the aquifer vast spatial distances that are covered.

Both countries Saudi Arabia and Jordan had started to extract water from the aquifer in 1977 for different purposes, but in 1983 both have started to use this water excessively in agriculture.  

The excessive of extracting water is due to the Lack of international mechanisms like the international agreement that guide the countries towards a framework of the sustainable manner in water utilization. Yet different transboundary agreements have different mechanisms.

This aquifer agreement represents one of the contemporary approaches to transboundary underground water management that focuses on the domestic allocation of water abstraction from specific areas and avoiding vulnerable ones, which support water management.

The fossil aquifer Al Disi like many transboundary aquifers between many MENA countries, like North-Western Sahara Aquifer Sass, Tunisian and Nubian Sandstone between Egypt and Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System in Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan, the world’s greatest non-renewable aquifer. These aquifers are regarded as very essential to balancing the sustainable development of nature and keeping some control on sediments.

The era of Carbon offsets drawing to a close

The era of Carbon offsets drawing to a close

Buying carbon credits in exchange for a clean conscience while you carry on flying, buying diesel cars and powering your home with fossil fuels is no longer acceptable or widely accepted. The era of carbon offsets drawing to a close is a 10 Jun 2019 Story of Climate change, especially if we consider that Renewable Energy Now Accounts for 33% of Global Power and that it is on its way to a full 100% within the near future.

Picture above is by Wikimedia

Carbon offsets are not our get-out-of-jail free card

Carbon credits are increasingly coming under fire for essentially allowing some to continue on their polluting ways while the rest of us are left scrambling to contain the climate crisis. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is the first to call everyone to action. “We are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption,” he says.

Meanwhile, scientists, activists and concerned citizens have started to voice their concerns over how carbon offsets have been used by polluters as a free pass for inaction.

Carbon offsets schemes were set up to allow the largest polluters who exceed permitted emissions’ levels to fund projects, such as reforestation, that reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, essentially balancing out their emissions equation.

The types of carbon offset projects that are implemented are diverse. They range from forestry sequestration projects (which remove CO2 from the atmosphere when trees grow) to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects (which reduce future CO2 emissions in the atmosphere).

UN Environment’s operations have been carbon neutral since 2008 thanks, in part, to the purchase of carbon credits. Since then, the organization has also reduced its emissions by 35 per cent. Many organizations and individuals are buying carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gas emissions involved in travel, principally flying.

Carbon offsets are useful while infrastructure and industry make the transition to electric mobility, alternative energy and the new technology necessary for low- and zero-carbon lifestyles. Where there are no viable alternatives in the short term, an offset scheme promises to cancel out the emissions in one place with emission-reducing actions in another. 

However, the reality is far from this neat.

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Offsets are only part of the answer

The climate crisis is now considered our gravest existential threat. Fifty per cent of climate changing pollutants have been pumped into our atmosphere—from power stations, cars, agriculture—since just 1990, and this amount is growing every second.

If we are serious about averting catastrophic planetary changes, we need to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. Trees planted today can’t grow fast enough to achieve this goal and reduce by half our current emissions. And carbon offset projects will never be able to curb the emissions growth if coal power stations continue to be built and petrol cars continue to be bought, and our growing global population continues to consume as it does today.

This is not to say that carbon offset projects should stop, quite the opposite. We must continue to plant trees and protect forests and peatlands. Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects are critical and offset schemes play an important role in funding and upscaling them.

What we must look at, though, is how these actions sum up to reflect the true cost of emissions and the urgency of their reduction. The one-for-one model has been proved wrong. If one tonne of sequestered CO2 is the price of one carbon credit, that offset must include not simply the emissions today, but also factor in the missing 45 per cent emissions’ reduction, as well as the future projected increase. 

Shoa Ehsani, a UN Environment official who closely tracks UN Environment’s carbon footprint, says carbon offsetting uptake has been slow. “One of the reasons offsets haven’t been selling is because the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement are non-enforceable. The main procurers of offsets are supposed to be nations trying to meet the targets they promised to meet. But they have reneged on their promises and targets. If the nations of the G20, responsible for 81 per cent of total emissions, are to meet targets, offsets remain an important mechanism for them unless they manage a 45 per cent emissions reduction on their own (which would be fantastic).”

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Dry forest in Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, southwest Madagascar. Photo by GRID-Arendal

A tool for speeding up climate action

Offsets also risk giving the dangerous illusion of a “fix” that will allow our billowing emissions to just continue to grow.

“UN Environment supports carbon offsets as a temporary measure leading up to 2030, and a tool for speeding up climate action,” says UN Environment climate specialist Niklas Hagelberg. “However, it is not a silver bullet, and the danger is that it can lead to complacency. The October 2018 report by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change made it clear that if we are to have any hope of curbing global warming we need to transition away from carbon for good: by travelling electric, embracing renewable energy, eating less meat and wasting less food.

“To secure popular support for decarbonization, the public needs to be informed about the positive effects of emission reductions, their benefits for cleaner air, health and new energy jobs,” he adds. “We should tax carbon, not people. We know fossil fuel subsidies are unfair when non-polluting alternatives are here right now. Making such a huge transition will require all the tools at our disposal, though, and offsets, if examined and applied with clear eyes, can aid the transition where sudden and drastic change might instead set us further back.”

The UN Climate Action Summit will take place in New York City on 23 September 2019 to increase ambition and accelerate action on the global climate emergency and support the rapid implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement

The 2019 UN Climate Action Summit is hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

For further information please contact Niklas Hagelberg

Trash: A major Environmental Issue in Libya

Trash: A major Environmental Issue in Libya

Trash: A major Environmental Issue in Libya published by YaLa Press is meant to obviously shed some light on the disastrous situation of the Libyan environment all within the geopolitical context. Here is that article with our thanks to the author and courtesy to Yala Press.

World Environment Day

5th June is a platform for action environment day every year. This day reminds us of the urge to protect our environment. In order to encourage worldwide awareness to save our beautiful and green planet, on this day, hundreds of organizations and millions of civilians will urge governments, industries, communities, and individuals to come together and raise awareness to keep our planet safe place.

Planet Earth is a beautiful place. It’s also the only planet we have, and we want to make sure that we do what needs to be done to keep it safe, healthy, cared for, and respected.

Humans are the only creatures on Earth that will cut down a tree, turn it into paper, then write “save the trees “on it. Imagine if the trees would give off WiFi signals, we would be planting so many trees and we’d probably save the planet too. It’s not your personal toy, nor mine. It is ours! So, protect the mother who nourishes you. Plants can survive without humans, but humans can not survive without plants. Environment day means to protect all the natural sources, plants, water, forests etc…

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry, the water in your toilet is cleaner than what nearly a billion people have to drink elsewhere on the same Earth.

Try to keep this blessing safe from pollution. Think green, stay healthy, and save this wealth. To live in a beautiful and clean environment.

Happy Environment day!

Trash: A major Environmental Issue in Libya

    One of the most annoying and serious environmental issues in Libya is the crisis trash. The clean environment brings fresh air and saves nature.  Our nature needs to be protected for a healthy life, and for us and for the animals. The ignorance of such an issue will always increase the danger that we give to our country and with no doubts will enhance the cause of diseases. No one ever wants to walk down the streets and passes trashes. No one wants to kick cans and plastics bottles while walking on shores.   For years now, neither the government nor the people, or even the waste companies could find an ending solution for this trouble. The streets in the capital are almost full of trashes. The roads, pavements, in front of schools and near the blocks of flats all have piles of trash. The scenery cannot be bearable anymore and it does not show the area in an urban view.

     Despite the individual attempts to fix this issue in the capital; Tripoli, this trouble has no end. People do not have any ideas about where to put their garbage, as a result, the waste solids are thrown everywhere. I have noticed while I was walking in the streets that those who live in houses they put their garbage near their houses with hope the waste companies come and collect it. Others who live in flats they throw it down the building or near the streets. Some they are just satisfied with throwing the trash wherever they could put it- on the pavements, near the beaches or wherever they can put trashes.

     Consequently, the government does not try to recycle or export plastic or paper waste, so they are starting to pile up randomly. And for sure, this is not a pretension to put the trash anywhere but there is no another way.  This scene we see every day at our streets, in front of our schools, universities, near our gardens, in the highways, on beaches and almost at every single step we take. We see cans, papers and plastic rubbish are thrown with no care about nature, the heath, or even showing any ethical value for doing such a horrible thing. The serious solution should be taken before making this trouble more dangerous. This is a dangerous threat of many living species on our land. Not all of us know how this trash we throw ends up. Plastic needs a long time to be mouldered. Plastic can float on the surface of the sea for centuries! Plastic can be eaten by any animals accidentally and animals cannot digest plastic which it stays in their stomach and intestines for years until it causes for their death.

    Although we need to use these materials; paper, plastic, iron cans … etc. for our daily life, using such materials improperly will lead to damage the environmental balance. We create these materials, we need them and we are responsible for any harm we cause. Our nature and animals do not need the paper or plastic, so we must not throw them randomly everywhere and ask nature to just simply use them or let the animals eat them. In other words, humans need nature very much, without it we cannot succeed to keep our life on the planet. Ignorance or contributing of throwing the trash at inappropriate places is a crime against our nature, our lands and our health.

    To sum up, we are destroying our nature with no worries. In Libya, trash is estimated to kills our environment and we help to damage it. It is not an excuse that we cannot find a solution. We can have special places to collect the whole trash at. Or we can start to export it to other countries where we can recycle it and use it for other things. Recycling is one of the perfect solutions and the most protective one. On the other hand, we need to take a series of action towards this and help our environment.

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Iran undertaking measures to boost its green energy

Iran undertaking measures to boost its green energy

International Institute for Non – Aligned Studies came up with the following article that was published on May 27, 2019, by The New Delhi Times. It is all about Iran undertaking measures to boost its green energy programme with obviously the aim to maximise its chances in these days of maximum US administration pressure.

Non-Aligned Movement has called upon the Member States to develop renewable energy and thereby boost green energy. Green energy may be defined as any such energy which comes from natural sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, plants, algae and geothermal heat.

Iran undertakes measures to boost green energy

These energy resources are renewable, meaning they are naturally replenished and also have a much smaller impact on environment than those caused by fossil fuels.

NAM has thus stressed on the need to accelerate the development, dissemination and deployment of affordable and cleaner energy efficiency and energy conservation technologies, new and renewable energy technologies.

Iran has undertaken a number of measures to boost green energy. Policy makers in Iran have realised that long-term investment in the renewables sector would lead to greater self-sufficiency and address the challenges of climate change. According to the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, Iran has pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions by 4% in 2030. The Government has identified promoting a low-carbon economy as one of its priorities in its 6th Five-Year National Development Plan.

Data on the Iranian energy sector show that 42 percent of the country’s renewable energy comes from solar energy, 41 percent from wind power plants, 13 percent from HPPs, two percent from heat recovery and two percent from biomass.

Iran has produced more than 2.83 billion kWh of electricity from renewable sources since an attempt was made in mid-2009 to shift the focus from fossil fuels to more environmentally friendly types of energy.

This amount of clean energy was produced from July 2009 to the end of February 2019, which reduced the consumption of 804 million cubic meters of fossil fuels. It also saved 623 million litres of water. In addition, the use of clean energy has helped the country reduce emissions of 1.95 million tons of greenhouse gases over the past nine years.

According to a recent comparative study published by Iran’s Renewal Efficiency and Energy Efficiency Organisation (SATBA) and the University of Tehran, there are 19 wind power plants with the capacity of 282.6 MW installed in Iran and about 100 MW are being installed. The report also mentions that employment rate of wind power plants in Iran was higher than the global average. As per the report, employment during the value chain of a-50 MW wind power plant resulted in the creation of 668 direct jobs and 1670 indirect jobs at the installation stage and also 48 direct jobs and 120 indirect jobs were created at the time of operation, repairs and maintenance respectively.

Iran has also embarked upon an ambitious project of setting up solar power plants. In April 2019, Iran launched a 10 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Abadeh in the southern Fars province. Accord to SATBA, Abadeh solar power plant is one of the largest power plants in the south of Iran.

It is constructed with 100% Iranian design and localized technology for the first time. It should be noted that the construction of the power plant is done by the private sector with an investment volume of over 500 billion Rials and the employment of 64 people at the time of construction and operation. Large swathes of Iran’s Fars province are suitable for producing renewables, particularly for setting up solar farms. Last year, the first major photovoltaic power station in the province, with the capacity of 10 MW, came on stream.

Iran has also begun development of their first geothermal power plant in Meshkinshahr. This pilot project is expected to have an initial 50MW capacity with a further potential of 250MW. A further 14 sites of potential for geothermal power have been identified and agreements are reportedly being signed with international energy companies to accelerate their development.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

Twitter : @iinsNAM

Email : iins@iins.org

Holistic and long-term solutions for Peace and Sustainability

Holistic and long-term solutions for Peace and Sustainability

Rather than resisting the securitization of climate, advocates and policymakers should be promoting the climatization of security. This means highlighting the shortcomings of current security frameworks and promoting gender inclusiveness and local leadership as holistic and long-term solutions for peace and sustainability.

This May 23, 2019 article of Alaa MurabitLuca Bücken and delivered by Project Syndicate must take many by surprise, mostly because of its angle of vision of the world’s predominant issue of climate change.

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The Myth of Climate Wars?

NEW YORK – In the years leading up to Syria’s civil war, the country endured three consecutive record-breaking droughts. By forcing internal displacement, the droughts arguably contributed to the social tensions that erupted in popular protests in 2011. But that does not mean that the Syrian conflict is a “climate war.”

As extreme weather events proliferate, it’s becoming increasingly easy to find a link between climate change and violent confrontations. In Sudan, the ethnic cleansing carried out by former President Omar al-Bashir has been tied to the Sahara Desert’s southward expansion, which fueled social unrest by exacerbating food insecurity. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea have also been connected to food-security concerns, rooted in competition over access to fishing areas. Some now warn of a “brewing water war” between Egypt and Ethiopia, triggered by the latter’s construction of a dam on the Nile River.

But the “climate war” narrative is deeply flawed. From Syria to Sudan, today’s conflicts are the result of multiple complicated and interrelated factors, from ethno-religious tensions to protracted political repression. While the effects of climate change can exacerbate social and political instability, climate change did not cause these wars. This nuance is important, not least for the sake of accountability: climate change must not be used to duck responsibility for resolving or averting violent confrontations.

Still, military and climate experts argue, climate change is a “threat multiplier,” and thus remains an important national security issue. Climate advocates and academics, however, have long avoided or rejected discussions of “climate security” – not to diminish the risks that climate change poses, but because they fear that framing climate change as a security issue will undermine efforts to mitigate those risks, by enabling the incremental securitization of climate action.

Securitization is often a political tactic, in which leaders construct a security threat to justify deploying extraordinary, even illegal measures, that infringe on people’s rights. If the fight against climate change is securitized, it could, for example, be used to rationalize new restrictions on the movement of people, enabled by and reinforcing anti-migrant sentiment.

Framing climate as a security issue can also challenge already-strained international cooperation on climate governance while driving investment away from necessary interventions – such as the shift to a low-carbon economy – toward advancing military preparedness. The accompanying apocalyptic discourse, moreover, could well lead to public disengagement, further weakening democratic accountability.

Yet, even as some United Nations member states express concern about linking climate change more closely to security, most countries are moving in precisely that direction. In 2013, the American Security Project reported that 70% of countries view climate change as a threat to their security, and at least 70 national militaries already have clear plans in place to address this threat.

The UN Security Council is also becoming more active in the climate security field. After recognizing the role of climate change in the Lake Chad conflict (Resolution 2349), the Council held its first debates on the relationship between climate change and security, with the participation of a large and diverse group of member states.

Given the impact of climate change on issues like migration and health, decoupling discussions of climate action from national security considerations may never have been feasible. On the other hand, linking climate change to security can positively contribute to mobilizing climate action. The key to avoiding the pitfalls of securitization is to move beyond paradigms – which overemphasize military-focused “hard security” narratives – that continue to shape security policy and public discourse. One way to achieve that is to take a more gender-inclusive approach to conflict prevention and resolution.

Research shows that women are more likely to pursue a collaborative approach to peacemaking, with actors organizing across ethnic, cultural, and sectarian divides. Such an approach “increases the prospects of long-term stability and reduces the likelihood of state failure, conflict onset, and poverty.” When women participate in peace negotiations, the resulting agreements are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years.

Sustainable peace is possible only by recognizing the necessity of local women’s leadership, who have relevant expertise and yet are currently excluded from national and multilateral frameworks. After all, if policy decisions are to meet the needs of the affected communities, members of those communities must have a seat at the table.

For example, in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan has acquired unique insights from years of facilitating community-inclusive forest conversation that respects local stakeholders. In Somalia, Ilwad Elman has proved her ability to navigate intersectional peace-building efforts through her organization, Elman Peace.

Of course, there is also an imperative to give more women the tools they need to join in this process. The interconnections identified in the UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a functional roadmap for delivering the needed equity. In particular, improving reproductive health (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4) of girls and women is one of the most cost-effective ways both to mitigate climate change (SDG 13) and to empower them as community leaders (SDG 5).

Rather than resisting the securitization of climate, advocates and policymakers should be advancing what the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute calls “the climatization of security.” This is best done by using security to increase the salience of climate action, highlighting the shortcomings of current security frameworks, and promoting gender inclusiveness and local leadership as holistic and long-term solutions for fostering local, regional, and international peace.

Luca Bücken is a policy adviser and strategist who focuses on migration, security, climate, and justice.

Alaa Murabit, a medical doctor and Executive Director of Phase Minus 1, is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals Advocates appointed by the UN Secretary General. 

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