DW takes us to the hottest area to tell us how local people are putting their hands together for a better future for everyone at a time when realising that energy cooperation is a necessary step; it is about Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs jointly tackling climate change.
The Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. It’s already being hit disproportionately by rising temperatures, water scarcity and desertification. And the outlook for the future is grim.
These are all compelling reasons for experts in the region to collaborate more, say the organizers of a conference on agriculture, water and food security. The conference, which was attended by experts from Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and several Arabic and Muslim countries, aimed to develop practical programs to address regional challenges.
“So much can be done in this region by cooperating across borders,” said William Wechsler, senior director of the N7 Initiative which organized the conference held last week in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. The initiative promotes collaboration between Israel and Arab and Muslim nations that have signed the Abraham Accords, a deal brokered in 2020 to normalize relations between Israel and several Arab countries, including Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
“For example, water can be made more available, food prices can be lowered, and people’s lives can be made more secure,” said Wechsler, listing the advantages of potential cooperations.
Wechsler believes agriculture is an ideal basis for climate change collaboration. Not only is it a field where progress can be made quickly, it could also have a big impact on people’s lives across the MENA region.
“If we miss the opportunity to address climate change now, the window of opportunity will eventually close,” Wechsler warned.
Although there are challenges to establishing governments and private sector cooperations, Wechsler believes those actively involved in tackling climate change and its effects are keen to work together.
“At the end of the day, scientists and engineers are practical people who are interested in solving problems, no matter where they are from,” Wechsler told DW.
Difficult to find funding for joint projects
For conference participant Faouzi Bekkaoui, the director of Morocco’s National Agricultural Research Institute, Israel has much to offer his country.
“Israeli expertise relates in particular to water usage efficiency, such as irrigation systems and developing more resilient crops and varieties,” he told DW.
Morocco is among the world’s most water-stressed countries, according to a World Bank 2022 report, and its agricultural sector is badly affected by the water shortage and climate change.
“Israel also made significant progress in biotechnology or genomics, and all these areas could be beneficial for Morocco, as well,” he said.
But funds for joint Moroccan-Israeli projects or academic exchanges are limited. Bekkaoui has now applied to the US-based Merck Foundation, which funds projects between Israel and the Arab countries that signed the Abraham Accords, for a grant.
The region lacks a tradition of cross-border academic cooperations.
“Most national research administrations … have limited pathways to grant research funding to foreign organizations,” said Youssef Wehbe, a researcher at the National Center of Meteorology in Abu Dhabi, in a recent podcast by the Middle East Institute.
Finding funding for cross-border projects to combat climate change is even more complex. During the World Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, richer nations agreed to provide adaptation funds worth $40 billion (€37.3 billion) annually for low- and middle-income countries from 2025 onwards.
But most of this finance is awarded in the form of loans for mitigation projects to reduce fossil fuel usage, such as installing solar panels or wind farms, which return a profit to lending nations, explained Wehbe.
In contrast, financing for adaptation schemes is low as they are “harder to fund and are less attractive to funding nations compared to the loan model, which returns a profit for these lending nations,” Wehbe said.
He calls for more globally oriented research programs targeting climate change “to solicit ideas from the international scientific community.”
Tackling climate change to reduce conflict
Agriculture and climate change expert Jamal Saghir, a professor at Canada’s McGill University and former World Bank director, also regards collaboration across borders as the best solution.
“Regional cooperation is always a win-win situation and much better than national or bilateral projects,” he told DW. “Most of the Mideast countries are not doing enough yet and climate change is much faster.”
The Middle East is warming at twice the global average. This is expected to fuel competition and conflict over dwindling resources – making it essential for the region to tackle climate change and its consequences such as more migration and unrest.
However, Saghir believes the region can leapfrog these issues through technology. Here he seesIsrael and the Gulf countries in a position to take a lead.
“Israeli technology is leading in desalination and irrigation and the region would benefit a lot from these methods,” he said. The United Arab Emirates, beyond their thriving oil business, have also made significant investments in renewable energies, he pointed out.
“Joint collaboration will lead to new ideas in research and development, which can then be implemented by several countries,” he said. “What are they waiting for? This could happen now.”
Building a basis of trust
Tareq Abu Hamad, executive director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel, believes tackling climate change together with other scientists across the region could turn into “a great opportunity to build trust.”
“We live in a small region that is considered as a hotspot when it comes to climate change, and we do not have any other option than cooperating with each other to deal with these challenges,” he said.
Alex Plitsas, who is involved in the N7 Initiative, was struck by one scene at the conference that filled him with hope.
“The most extraordinary thing I witnessed … in Abu Dhabi was when a male Arab diplomat from a Gulf state wearing traditional thobe & donning a kaffiyeh sat with a female Israeli entrepreneur and I late at night,” he wrote on Twitter, “as they worked to figure out how to make people’s lives better.”
(TAP) – On 16/03/2023, TUNIS/Tunisia. The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) launched a call for applications to finance projects aimed at promoting employment and entrepreneurship in the green economy sector. The aim is to support the environmental transition of the economies of 7 Mediterranean countries, including Tunisia.
According to information published Thursday by the UfM, this call for applications is intended for NGOs working to support vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change and by the evolution of the socio-economic context.
Eligible for this call for applications are non-profit NGOs active in the field of environmental transition of economies in an inclusive manner and with respect for social justice. These NGOs must be based in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritania, Palestine or Tunisia, with priority given to regional projects. The deadline for applications is May 29, 2023.
The selected candidates will benefit from financial support ranging from 150,000 to 300,000 euros (which represents a sum varying between 500,000 and 1 million dinars) per project, as well as from the UfM’s technical expertise, which will give them greater visibility.
Funded by the UfM with the support of the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), this initiative, in its first edition, launched in 2020, helped 18,000 people, mainly young people and women, from seven UfM member states (Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco and Tunisia).
These projects address employment challenges in the areas of entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, sustainable tourism, and education and research.
The green economy, as well as “green” jobs, are set to play a key role in the sustainable recovery of the Mediterranean region from the COVID-19 pandemic.
GCC cities should spend $220bln to build extra 1,100 km of metro rail
Global consultancy firm Strategy& says socio-economic benefits worth $700 billion can be realised by building extra metro tracks by 2030.
March 13, 2023
GCC cities will need an additional 1,100 km of metro systems by 2030, estimated to cost nearly $220 billion, global consultancy firm Strategy& said in a new report.
The cities currently have 400 km and will need the expansion of metro tracks to meet the growing population demand.
As of 2022, Dubai and Doha have 90 km and 76 km of operational metro system tracks, respectively.
Riyadh is planning to launch a 176 km metro system by 2024. Saudi Arabia will need an extra capital investment of $34 billion by 2030 in addition to the $40 billion already spent.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi began electric bus trials in 2019 and has outlined plans for a 131 km metro system by 2030.
Although the cost is significant, a properly implemented and funded metro system can generate three to four times in direct and indirect socioeconomic benefits.
“If cities were to build the additional roughly 1,100 km of metro rail required by 2030, they could realise direct and indirect socio-economic benefits worth around $700 billion over a 20-year period,” said Mark Haddad, Partner with Strategy& Middle East.
Ensuring that current and future metro systems achieve such returns requires a framework based on four pillars that rest upon four foundational elements. These will help cities realise the anticipated returns and implement a metro system in a cost-efficient and effective manner.
The four pillars are clear objectives, integrated planning, high-quality service & customer-centric experience and commercial mindset.
These four pillars of the implementation framework rest on four elements: effective governance; policies and incentives to support transit adoption; funding throughout system development, launch and early operations and local capabilities that enable effective long-term management.
Ruggero Moretto, Principal with Strategy& Middle East, stated that properly implemented and managed metro systems could create long-term socioeconomic returns, promote sustainability, and improve the quality of life for residents.
Washington: Climate change is already taking place, and as temperatures rise, oceans warm, sea levels rise, and already scarce freshwater resources in some areas decrease, its effects will only worsen. Conflict and migration will be exacerbated by this, especially in the Middle East and Africa’s poorest and most vulnerable countries.
This was one of the messages from attendees at a panel discussion on the topic of “Climate Injustice?,” which was held on Wednesday at the Middle East Institute in Washington. How less developed countries are bearing the brunt of climate change.
In comparison to wealthy, developed Western countries, many poorer nations contribute less to the carbon emissions that cause climate change, but they bear the brunt of its effects, according to Mohammed Mahmoud, director of the institute’s Climate and Water Program.
According to him, three main factors determine which nations are most likely to suffer from the effects of climate change both now and in the future.
First of all, as sea levels rise, countries with extensive coastlines and island nations run the risk of losing land mass and flooding. Additionally, the intrusion of saltwater could “compromise” their sources of fresh groundwater.
Second, even small increases in global temperatures can have a significant impact on countries with a high heat index, particularly those that are close to the equator and receive a lot of solar radiation.
The third and most crucial factor, according to Mahmoud, is the present scarcity of fresh water in some nations.
The distinction between these broad categories is made interesting by the fact that they are all found in the Middle East and North Africa region, the author continued. The likelihood of crises related to climate change increases as more of these problems are faced by nations in the region.
The panelists concurred that a country’s ability to effectively combat the impending threats of climate change is greatly influenced by its economic strength, or lack thereof.
Countries in East Africa, for instance, which are already dealing with the worst drought in decades and have fragile economies, will be less able to deal with the effects of climate change than, say, a Gulf country like Bahrain, which is water-stressed but much better equipped economically to deal with potential problems
Mahmoud stressed the importance of nations’ financial capacity to address climate change-related issues, including their ability to pay for the tools and technologies they require to address their particular issues. The right education and training must also be a part of the overall plan to lessen the effects of climate change, he continued.
Financial stability is crucial, but according to Ayat Soliman, the World Bank’s regional director for sustainable development for Eastern and Southern Africa, there is a certain amount of “injustice” in how various countries are impacted by the global issue of climate change.
She claimed that “we see climate charts are increasing in terms of its intensity” in Africa and the Middle East. She added that many parts of Africa, for instance, are going through their worst drought in years and that millions of people are going hungry.
Since some of the most vulnerable people in the world are being impacted by climate change in Africa, Soliman predicted that there will be a large-scale migration as a result. According to World Bank research, about 90 million people will be forced to leave their homes and find new residences over the course of the next 20 years as a result of the effects of climate change. The already pressing problem of food security in less developed countries will be exacerbated by this.
Soliman predicted that the majority of those packing up and moving will be the poor, the weak, and those who live in rural areas. Conflicts all over the world are and will continue to be caused by climate stress.
The president and co-founder of the Mediterranean Youth Climate Network, Hajar Khamlichi, stated that young people in the most severely affected areas have a crucial role to play in the successful implementation of international agreements that guide global action on climate change. As a result, it is crucial that they participate in the process and are heard, which is not always the case.
He added that this failure has an impact on national and international strategies to combat the effects of climate change. “The voice of young people is not heard in the Arab World,” he said.
The forthcoming World Economic Forum Annual Meeting will answer some questions: How can the Middle East and North Africa manage the region’s water crisis? In the meantime, let us also see what it is all about.
How can the Middle East and North Africa manage the region’s water crisis?
Nearly 90% of children in the region live in areas of high or extremely high water stress.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is one of the most water-scarce regions in the world.
For years, the water crisis has exacerbated conflict and political tensions. Moreover, the issue continues to significantly impact the health and wellbeing of people in the area, especially women and children. In fact, according to UNICEF, nearly 90% of children in the region live in areas of high or extremely high water stress.
As global temperatures rise and the climate crisis accelerates, the MENA water crisis is expected to worsen – and impact economic growth. The World Bank found that climate-related water scarcity could lead to economic losses equaling up to 14% of the region’s GDP over the next 30 years.
Yet technological innovations and advanced water-management systems are helping to mitigate the situation. This includes the development of major desalination plants, as well as the implementation of sustainable agriculture and water-recycling programmes.
Ahead of the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, four industry leaders share their thoughts on the MENA water crisis and detail ongoing efforts to help the region overcome water scarcity in the coming years.
Peter Terium, Chief Executive Officer, ENOWA; Managing Director, Energy, Water & Food, NEOM
“In NEOM, located in the north-west of Saudi, underground water has been more and more used for agriculture and irrigation due to the increase in population in the region. This has led to a drop in the ground water table and has dried up many of the springs in the area, changing the face of the environment. The aquifers no longer have the capability to regenerate themselves due to the water demand and open dumping of wastewater on the land has led to pollution of this scarce resource.
“By replacing the underground water used for irrigation with the desalinated water, and processing the wastewater and recycling all water that normally goes to waste, we will rebalance the ecosystem and bring back the natural oasis in the region. ENOWA, NEOM’s energy and water subsidiary, is creating a circular water system. To realize this, we bring together innovation across the water value chain, and beyond.
“Globally, average water loss is about 30%. By using innovative technologies, ENOWA aims to reduce loss to 3% which reduces the overall infrastructure and costing for water. With smart monitoring technologies, 100% recycling of wastewater, and the production of clean industrial resources, we are maximizing the potential of water use in industry, farming and to rebalance nature.”
“With our circular approach, we are positively impacting NEOM’s flora and fauna, and we hope to amplify the positive impact across the world.
— Peter Terium, Chief Executive Officer, ENOWA
A boat lies on the dried-out shore of the Euphrates river in Syria. Image: REUTERS/Orhan Qereman
Bahrain Economic Development Board
“Gulf Cooperation Council members are taking a multi-faceted approach to addressing water scarcity. Saudi Arabia’s Rabigh 3 Independent Water Plant produces 600,000 cubic metres of desalinated water a day using reverse osmosis. It can meet the needs of 1 million households and is recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination plant.
“Bahrain EDB focuses on attracting investments and building solutions that have a positive impact on issues like water scarcity, such as Pavilion Water – a water desalination specialist that produces fresh water with zero greenhouse gas emissions.
“Innovative farming is also helping produce more food with less water across the region. UAE-based start-up Smart Acres is a vertical indoor hydroponic farm that, compared to traditional methods, yields 20 times as much food while using a tenth of the land and 90% less water.
Paddy Padmanathan, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ACWA Power
“Billions of people around the world lack adequate access to water, a basic need to sustain healthy life. The Middle East and North Africa is the worst off in terms of physical water stress receiving less rainfall than other regions but, yet having fast-growing, densely populated urban centres that require more water.
“Immediately the awareness of the issue needs to be heightened and consumption needs to be contained at 150 litres per day. But to even supply that low level of consumption, we need to keep innovating.
“We at ACWA Power continue to stretch technology to reduce energy, chemical and sophisticated consumables consumption by challenging conventional practices, increasing the use of big data, the phenomenal power of computing, advanced analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to reduce the cost of taking salt out of seawater (desalination) and by increasing the utilization of renewable energy also simultaneously reduce the carbon footprint of this energy intensive process to increase the provision of potable water at a progressively lower cost reducing the impact on climate change.
“With the track record of being the leading desalinator in the world, today dispatching 6.4 million cubic metres per day of desalinated water we are proud to have led the cost reduction challenge by bringing the cost of desalinated water from $2+ per cubic metres just a few years ago to less than $0.50 per cubic metres today.”
Majid Al Futtaim Holding
“With some of the highest per-capita water-consumption rates, a hot and dry climate, wasteful water infrastructure and a heavy reliance on greenhouse gas-producing desalination, MENA countries are particularly affected by water scarcity. The region’s rapid population growth has also led many countries to rely heavily on ever-depleting ground and surface water.
“At Majid Al Futtaim, we understand the scale of the issue and began addressing it as part of our sustainability strategy. We developed a clean water investment strategy that focuses on investing in water generation technology, local offsetting and the development of renewable-powered reverse osmosis desalination plants.
“As a diverse business operating across industries, Majid Al Futtaim is present in several sectors that are typically characterised by high water use. Yet the company takes several steps to effectively minimise its water footprint.
— Majid Al Futtaim Holding
“In our food and beverage retail sector, 80% of products are sourced locally from the region. We’ve also introduced micro irrigation systems and hydroponic farms into our supply chains to minimise water loss and promote sustainable farming. Meanwhile, in the fashion industry, which as a whole uses 93 billion cubic metres of water annually, Majid Al Futtaim engages with suppliers to offer sustainably made products designed to last longer as well as be re-used or recycled.
“Majid Al Futtaim also institutes sustainable water management systems into its building and community development sector. This includes, for instance, the use of on-site water treatment technologies and sustainable gardening practices.”
Originally posted on Good Food on Bad Plates: We don’t typically make a lot of stews because Toddler Mash doesn’t typically eat them. A couple of weekends ago, though,we ended up making a lamb cobbler on the Saturday and kusksu (Libyan couscous with spicy beef and vegetables) on the Sunday. He surprised us on the…
Originally posted on Imen Bliwa Blog: Abib, Sierra Leone’s immigrant helping a friend’s child while camping in front of UN building in Tunisia Along with many of his friends and neighbors, Abib had to spend days and nights in front of the UN building (IOM). A calm fancy neighborhood next to Tunis Lake turns into…
Originally posted on Mackneen, The Algerian Goldfinch: It’s Spring, like the season then, twelve years ago. Time flies, like a bird. On this day, twelve years ago, I created this blog and I gave it a name: Mackneen,The Algerian Goldfinch. On that day I went to Algiers for a visit to my mother, and to my…
This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.
You must be logged in to post a comment.