Cascading Climate Effects in the Middle East and North Africa

Cascading Climate Effects in the Middle East and North Africa

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the nowadays prevailing cascading Climate Effects in the Middle East and North Africa recommends amongst other measures, adapting through Inclusive Governance as a must.

Cascading Climate Effects in the Middle East and North Africa: Adapting Through Inclusive Governance

By FREDERIC WEHREY, and NINAR FAWAL

24 February 2022

Summary:  Climate change is affecting the Middle East in far-reaching ways. To better prepare their societies to withstand its shocks, policymakers need to depart from top-down paradigms and involve a broader swath of their citizenry in climate adaptation.

Long downplayed or ignored by elites and governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), climate change will affect the region in dire and far-reaching ways, amplifying long-standing problems of governance and sharpening socioeconomic inequalities while also creating new disruptions. For countries already grappling with the fallout from the pandemic, civil wars and conflict-induced displacement, population growth, and a long-term decline in global demand for the oil upon which many MENA economies rely, the cascading effects of climate change add to a daunting array of challenges.

Water scarcity has been the most headline-grabbing effect of climate change in the MENA area: the region has been consistently described by experts as “the world’s most water-stressed.” Rising temperatures and their pernicious effects on health and productivity, desertification, population movements (both within the region and from elsewhere), and food insecurity are other climate effects projected to impact MENA inhabitants, especially those in rural areas and urban peripheries, migrants and refugees, informal sector workers, and other vulnerable communities. 

The likelihood of new violent conflict directly triggered or aggravated by climate change in the MENA region is an oft-cited and oft-sensationalized effect. Yet the reality is more complex than the dark prognostications of some so-called climate determinists. In cases of previous wars and political unrest in the MENA region, most scholars find that climate change is at most one variable among a multitude of more directly contributing factors, including endemic corruption, authoritarianism, economic exclusion, demographic pressures, and other governance maladies.

Given the pressing risks of climate effects in the region, a number of MENA governments have made pledges to mitigate global warming through a transition to renewable energy and green technologies, and some have already taken steps in that direction. But there is much more that they can do at home. Most critically, policymakers in the MENA region need to bolster the ability of their societies to withstand and adapt to climatic stresses through greater political and economic inclusion and by prioritizing policies that protect the most vulnerable sectors of their citizenry.

DROUGHTS, WATER SCARCITY, AND RISING SEA LEVELS

Worryingly, the MENA region is projected to be among the first in the world to “effectively run out of water,” as water resources are being used faster than they’re being replenished by precipitation. Climate change adds to the existing pressures on water demand placed by an expanding population, and will likely continue to diminish water availability, both total and per capita, to critically low amounts in an already water-scarce region. This is especially true in countries like Iraq where the irrigated agricultural sector is significant. This, combined with poor governance, has led to countries overdrawing water from rivers and aquifers and thus degrading already scarce water resource bases.

The Mediterranean is an especially at-risk region. Dubbed a major “climate change hot spot” in several modeling predictions, the region has experienced consistent drying in the last twenty years, largely due to anthropogenic (human-made) greenhouse gases. The Levant in particular is projected to be one of the areas in the MENA region most affected by droughts and reduced precipitation; rainfall in Jordan, for example, is forecasted to decrease by 30 percent by the end of the current century.

Some models predict that climate change and decreased precipitation will reduce internal renewable water, which refers to rivers and aquifers replenished by precipitation, in the MENA region by around 4 percent by 2050. Between 80 and 90 million of the region’s inhabitants are set to suffer from some form of water stress by 2025; protests over water shortages have already occurred in Iran. The growing need for water resources is spurring governments to pursue expensive desalinization projects or to shift much-needed water resources away from agriculture, both of which could worsen existing economic inequalities and widen the urban-rural gap. For example, privileged citizens in Middle Eastern cities are already prioritized for water procurement and reallocation initiatives, with poorer and more marginalized citizens often paying for water from private providers at inflated rates.

Water scarcity has also been weaponized in times of war in the Middle East by armed actors. In Libya, for example, local militias have used water infrastructure, especially the Great Man-Made River, as a source of leverage against rivals or the central government. In the capital of Tripoli, residents were forced to dig through paved concrete for water after a militia turned off the flow to pressure a rival militia into releasing an imprisoned leader. Climate change effects could make these sub-state conflict dynamics more acute.

The MENA region is also one of the most vulnerable regions to rising sea levels caused by climate change; according to some studies, the mean global sea level is set to rise 30–122 centimeters (1 to 4 feet) by the end of the century. The consequences are manifold. When sea levels rise, seawater can intrude into coastal aquifers and wells, thus salinizing the water there and devastating littoral agricultural communities. The inundation of coastal areas could also make some waterfront cities and towns in the MENA region uninhabitable, adding to economic and migration-related stresses on already beleaguered governments. Here, the countries of North Africa are especially at risk, in terms of total population threatened by sea level rise; the cities of Algiers, Benghazi, and Alexandria in particular will be exposed to even modest increases in sea level by 2050.

RISING TEMPERATURES

Even if global warming is limited to a 2°C increase, the MENA region is set to experience temperatures well beyond this projection. Indeed, much of the region will experience global warming at a more severe rate because of the desert warming amplification phenomenon, in which drying soil prevents natural cooling effects and creates a feedback loop that further intensifies heat. Temperatures are set to rise in the region by at least 4°C by 2050—that is, if greenhouse gases continue to increase at the current rate—and heat waves are set to be experienced ten times more frequently by the same year. Future temperatures in the region are projected to exceed a threshold for human adaptability, leading to higher mortality rates for children and the elderly.

Similar to other climate change phenomena, moreover, global warming and its felt impact continue to increase socioeconomic inequalities and further endanger marginalized groups across the region. In Kuwait, for example, wealthy citizens and residents are often able to avoid the effects of rising temperatures through air-conditioning and summer vacations to Europe, while non-Kuwaiti laborers from developing countries work outdoors—making them up to three times more likely to die on extremely hot days.

DESERTIFICATION

Rising temperatures and decreasing water resources will accelerate the rate of desertification in the region, even though climate change by itself is not the sole driver for this and other forms of soil degradation and ecological depletion, which have been features of the MENA region since well before the industrial age. In addition to increased water scarcity, climate change will produce increased aridity in parts of the MENA region in the next century, thus shrinking arable lands and disrupting agricultural patterns. Moreover, already dry soil is set to become drier, and desert dust will increasingly accumulate in the atmosphere and create more sandstorms, especially in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. In Western Iraq, for example, there was a significant increase in sandstorms, and by extension desertification, in the last two decades.

Desertification poses a range of deleterious effects on air quality, human health, land productivity, and ecosystem dynamics. In response, governments, corporations, and multilateral organizations have undertaken a range of measures in the region, such as reforestation, afforestation, and new agriculture projects, to both curb desertification and reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere. But these actions have elicited skepticism from some scholars who consider them counterproductive and ecologically damaging.

FOOD INSECURITY 

Agriculture is the largest water-consuming sector in the Middle East, so desertification is expected to intensify food insecurity in the region. Half of the land around the Mediterranean, for example, is primarily used for agriculture, consuming 60 to 80 percent of water supply. Production of wheat, an important food staple in the Middle East, is already being negatively impacted by increasing heat waves and droughts—a trend that threatens to apply to other crops and food sources. 

Warmer and drier climates produced by climate change are set to significantly impact agricultural patterns, and by extension, food sources, as lower rainfall and higher temperatures are forecasted to shorten growing periods, decrease crop yields and crop productivity, and adversely influence livestock production through changes in the length of the grazing season and reduced drinking water. Herders in northeastern Syria, for example, lost 80 to 85 percent of their livestock because of recurring droughts between 2005 and 2010. Ultimately, climate change will decrease food production, increase food prices, and aggravate food insecurity, which in turn will lead to an increase in child malnutrition and a drastic reduction in calorie consumption.

MIGRATION AND URBANIZATION

Migration is another frequently mentioned effect of climate change and one that is often securitized. Here again it is important to take a nuanced view; migration has long been an adaptive mechanism for populations in the MENA region, both during times of drought and war and seasonally, for laborers, herders, and nomads. The direct impact of climate change on migration will vary depending on the severities and types of climatic events, as well as the resources available to affected populations.

As climate change causes droughts to become more common, severe, and sustained, in-migration within rural areas and especially to cities will likely increase and could become more permanent. Gender parity will be adversely affected by this mostly male outflow of labor in rural areas; women will be left to shoulder more burdens of local work and the household economy, depriving them of access to education and job training. Aside from this labor dynamic, women are further endangered by migration-inducing climate events and their knock-on effects—women and girls, for example, become more vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation in the immediate aftermath of a flood, drought, or famine as their local safety nets are uprooted and they are forced to live in insecure conditions. Rising sea levels and declining water availability will also affect the livelihoods of coastal dwellers who are involved in agriculture and the tourism industry; the coastal areas of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and the Nile Delta are particularly at risk. On top of this, migration into North Africa, as both a destination and a transit zone, is expected to increase as climate effects are felt in the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa, exacerbating already acute food insecurity

The towns and cities in the MENA region that have historically been zones of refuge for past waves of conflict or seasonal migration may themselves be overwhelmed already by climate stresses on service provision or, in the case of some urban areas along the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, no longer inhabitable. The resulting competition for resources could have grave consequences for migrants and refugees, aggravating their already poor access to sanitation, health, and housing. Their plight could be further worsened as regimes adopt securitized, scapegoating approaches to migration rather than focusing on governance improvements.

CLIMATE CHANGE AS A DRIVER OF CONFLICT: A MIXED PICTURE

The prospect of violent conflict in the MENA region triggered by climate change remains the subject of much alarmism and debate. Yet the preponderance of studies, drawing from recent wars in the region, shows that “the extent and strength of this relationship remains inconclusive.” Any causal line from climate change to open conflict, they find, can be offset by a number of intervening factors—specifically, a country’s social and governance structures.

The case study of Syria and its post-2011 civil war remains the most frequently contested regarding a climate-conflict nexus. While some studies argued that migration resulting from a climate change-induced drought contributed to civil unrest and the consequent civil war in Syria, they have been critiqued for ignoring already present sociopolitical factors in Syria and for overstating both the contribution of so-called climate migrants to the protests and the scale of the drought itself, as well as its anthropogenic nature. A more rigorous analysis of past conflicts, drawing from Syria but also Yemen and Sudan, frames security and climate change as an interrelationship where conflict increases social and political vulnerabilities, which then raises the likelihood that climate change will worsen a conflict.

Beyond conflicts within countries, some scholars have predicted that climate change could increase the likelihood that transboundary water competition between states in the MENA region could erupt into direct or proxy conflict. The most commonly cited case here is the tension between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Nile River Basin and specifically the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which the Egyptian government has often argued poses an existential threat to the Egyptian population. Though some analysts point to the dispute pushing both countries toward war, others see it as an opportunity for bilateral cooperation and diplomacy. Moreover, a comprehensive survey noted no recorded instances of recent wars resulting from river disputes. Resource competition can also spur changes in domestic water management: Egypt, for example, has undertaken projects to improve irrigation and wastewater reuse, as well as desalination initiatives, in light of the uncertainties brought about by the GERD. As is the case for other climate effects, then, conflict over water scarcity between states is far from predetermined even as risks are still present from political rivalries and the absence of resource sharing frameworks.

MENA CLIMATE ACTION: BEYOND GREEN PLEDGES

Given the reliance of many MENA countries on extractive fossil fuel wealth, whether they are directly producing and exporting it themselves or receiving it as financial aid or remittances from partners, the region’s long-standing economic model has contributed to climate change by expanding the global carbon footprintOver the decades, it has also been used by the region’s elites to entrench authoritarianism, sustain bloated public sectors, and perpetuate deep inequalities among citizens and between regions, all of which, when combined with geography and environmental fragility, have left the MENA region especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Home to the world’s leading petroleum exporters, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar, the Middle East represents about 31.3 percent of global oil production. Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company Aramco is responsible for the most greenhouse gas release of any company in the world. Additionally, many societies across the region are heavily dependent on fossil fuel consumption, particularly for transport and electricity, which in turn further increases the region’s contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the MENA region accounted for 9.4 percent of global oil consumption in 2021 while comprising little over 6 percent of the global population. This is partly due to extensive subsidization by governments in Gulf countries: the MENA region has the highest share of pre-tax energy subsidies globally. High consumption also stems from carbon-intensive, deteriorating, or deprioritized infrastructure, such as public transportation, in other MENA countries. Further, the region contains some of the world’s largest per capita carbon dioxide emitters, with Qatar leading.

A number of major oil producers in the Gulf have pledged to meet climate targets: Saudi Arabia, for example, said it would aim for net-zero emissions by 2060, although this excludes emissions from exports. In tandem, Riyadh has introduced reforms on energy subsidies—historically a pillar of autocratic rentier states—mostly driven by economic considerations but also linked to multilateral climate commitments. The UAE, for its part, is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050. Others have indicated tentative moves toward future emissions reduction: in January 2022, Kuwait’s cabinet directed a review of ways to lower the country’s production of greenhouse gases, following an earlier pledge to trim emissions by a modest 7.4 percent by 2035. Still other states beyond the Gulf have garnered praise for innovative climate actions—Morocco, for example, has become a leader on solar energy. Egypt, meanwhile, is slated to host the next United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, in November 2022, while the UAE will convene COP28 in 2023.

Despite these projects, pledges, and fora, it remains to be seen whether policymakers in the MENA region, as well as those across the globe, will mobilize on climate change in a manner substantial enough to forestall its most severe effects. Faced with these looming risks, elites in the region will need to prioritize policies that will help insulate vulnerable segments of their population from climate shocks, including migrants and refugees; lower-income citizens, especially women; workers in the informal and tourism sectors; and the inhabitants of both rural interior and coastal regions.

Ultimately, though, regimes in the MENA region must integrate progress toward renewable energy, green technologies, regulatory improvements, and other mitigation actions into a more inclusive process of political and socioeconomic reform that will better position their societies to withstand the interlinked and systemic impacts of climate change. For such a holistic approach to succeed, it must depart from current top-down paradigms to involve a broader swath of citizenry and local institutions—an unfettered civil society, including women-led initiatives; empowered municipal governments; and an open media, to name but a few—on climate adaptation and on governance more broadly.

Frederic Wehrey is a senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where his research focuses on governance, conflict, and security in Libya, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf.

Ninar Fawal is a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow in the Carnegie Middle East Program.

Malta can truly kick-start a green revolution

Malta can truly kick-start a green revolution

The start to a green revolution – Cyrus Engerer and Stephanie Fabri elaborate on how Malta can truly kick-start a green revolution.

Malta can truly kick-start a green revolution

By Cyrus Engerer and Stephanie Fabri

As the world struggles with COVID-19, the challenges of climate change and wider environmental problems loom large. It is clear that the economic response to the impact of COVID-19 must benefit the environment while plans to address climate change and environmental issues must benefit the economy and society. The only way these twin imperatives can be met is through a green revolution that transcends our economy and society.

This was our task when we both chaired the first Intelligent Planning Consultative Forum that was established by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia. The aim of the forum was to bring together all stakeholders involved in the planning and construction sectors to start coming up with ways in which we can transform and transition planning and construction which is smart, green and sustainable.

The result of this forum and the discussions we led is the green policy document on green walls and roofs together with the recently-launched scheme by the government to incentivise such improvements.

This incentive scheme should be seen as the first step towards having greener and more sustainable buildings. The benefits of such interventions are major given that they result in low energy consumption and decreased carbon emissions while mitigating the effects of roof flooding. This happens as the green infrastructure, walls or roofs, acts as a protective layer for buildings, absorbing heat and excess water.

Additionally, the utilisation of local fauna in such projects would create various pollination havens across the island, helping to restore natural biodiversity – a key aim of the EU’s 2030 biodiversity strategy. The utilisation of Maltese fauna could have the additional benefit of requiring minimal maintenance and reduce the consumption of water.

Such initiatives also have macro effects including the creation of additional value-adding activities and green jobs. Together with other initiatives and incentives, the demand for such products could even help kickstart a whole new industry focused on green construction.One of Malta’s biggest opportunities in the Green Deal is greening the construction sector

In fact, one of Malta’s biggest opportunities in the Green Deal is greening the construction sector which remains a significant contributor to economic growth. The EU recently launched the New European Bauhaus and, in a statement, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that “the New European Bauhaus is about how we live better together after the pandemic while respecting the planet and protecting our environment. It is about empowering those who have the solutions to the climate crisis, matching sustainability with style”.

This is something we believe can truly support the country in its next phase of design, planning and construction. Malta and Europe have a number of common challenges. Whereas the original Bauhaus was focused on new designs, the biggest challenge we face is of renovation, regeneration and retrofitting.

We are surrounded by buildings and infrastructures, home to both embodied carbon and embedded histories. A design and architecture for this problem requires a quite different sensibility. It implies a refining in place, understanding repair and retrofit cultures and developing new logics predicated on care and maintenance.

These approaches, in line with the EU Recovery Strategy, necessitate new ways of unleashing the societal value latent in people and place. Producing anew in this way is far more challenging than simply making new things –although new things will emerge.

Malta has a unique potential in this and, if leveraged properly, we can truly kick-start a green revolution in our planning and building industries. We are confident that the new phase of the Intelligent Planning Consultative Forum will look into this and, together with the environment minister, a new era of Malta’s planning and construction industry can commence, one that is smart, green and sustainable.

The green wall and roof initiative and support scheme is a step in the right direction.

Cyrus Engerer is a Labour MEP and Stephanie Fabri is an economist and a lecturer at the University of Malta.

Why the Mediterranean is a climate change hotspot

Why the Mediterranean is a climate change hotspot

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology asking Why the Mediterranean is a climate change hotspot came up with A new analysis uncovers the basis of the severe rainfall declines predicted by many models.

17 June 2020

Although global climate models vary in many ways, they agree on this: The Mediterranean region will be significantly drier in coming decades, potentially seeing 40 percent less precipitation during the winter rainy season.

An analysis by researchers at MIT has now found the underlying mechanisms that explain the anomalous effects in this region, especially in the Middle East and in northwest Africa. The analysis could help refine the models and add certainty to their projections, which have significant implications for the management of water resources and agriculture in the region.

The study, published last week in the Journal of Climate, was carried out by MIT graduate student Alexandre Tuel and professor of civil and environmental engineering Elfatih Eltahir.

The different global circulation models of the Earth’s changing climate agree that temperatures virtually everywhere will increase, and in most places so will rainfall, in part because warmer air can carry more water vapor. However, “There is one major exception, and that is the Mediterranean area,” Eltahir says, which shows the greatest decline of projected rainfall of any landmass on Earth.

“With all their differences, the models all seem to agree that this is going to happen,” he says, although they differ on the amount of the decline, ranging from 10 percent to 60 percent. But nobody had previously been able to explain why.

Tuel and Eltahir found that this projected drying of the Mediterranean region is a result of the confluence of two different effects of a warming climate: a change in the dynamics of upper atmosphere circulation and a reduction in the temperature difference between land and sea. Neither factor by itself would be sufficient to account for the anomalous reduction in rainfall, but in combination the two phenomena can fully account for the unique drying trend seen in the models.

The first effect is a large-scale phenomenon, related to powerful high-altitude winds called the midlatitude jet stream, which drive a strong, steady west-to-east weather pattern across Europe, Asia, and North America. Tuel says the models show that “one of the robust things that happens with climate change is that as you increase the global temperature, you’re going to increase the strength of these midlatitude jets.”

But in the Northern Hemisphere, those winds run into obstacles, with mountain ranges including the Rockies, Alps, and Himalayas, and these collectively impart a kind of wave pattern onto this steady circulation, resulting in alternating zones of higher and lower air pressure. High pressure is associated with clear, dry air, and low pressure with wetter air and storm systems. But as the air gets warmer, this wave pattern gets altered.

“It just happened that the geography of where the Mediterranean is, and where the mountains are, impacts the pattern of air flow high in the atmosphere in a way that creates a high pressure area over the Mediterranean,” Tuel explains. That high-pressure area creates a dry zone with little precipitation.

However, that effect alone can’t account for the projected Mediterranean drying. That requires the addition of a second mechanism, the reduction of the temperature difference between land and sea. That difference, which helps to drive winds, will also be greatly reduced by climate change, because the land is warming up much faster than the seas.

“What’s really different about the Mediterranean compared to other regions is the geography,” Tuel says. “Basically, you have a big sea enclosed by continents, which doesn’t really occur anywhere else in the world.” While models show the surrounding landmasses warming by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius over the coming century, the sea itself will only warm by about 2 degrees or so. “Basically, the difference between the water and the land becomes a smaller with time,” he says.

That, in turn, amplifies the pressure differential, adding to the high-pressure area that drives a clockwise circulation pattern of winds surrounding the Mediterranean basin. And because of the specifics of local topography, projections show the two areas hardest hit by the drying trend will be the northwest Africa, including Morocco, and the eastern Mediterranean region, including Turkey and the Levant.

That trend is not just a projection, but has already become apparent in recent climate trends across the Middle East and western North Africa, the researchers say. “These are areas where we already detect declines in precipitation,” Eltahir says. It’s possible that these rainfall declines in an already parched region may even have contributed to the political unrest in the region, he says.

“We document from the observed record of precipitation that this eastern part has already experienced a significant decline of precipitation,” Eltahir says. The fact that the underlying physical processes are now understood will help to ensure that these projections should be taken seriously by planners in the region, he says. It will provide much greater confidence, he says, by enabling them “to understand the exact mechanisms by which that change is going to happen.”

Eltahir has been working with government agencies in Morocco to help them translate this information into concrete planning. “We are trying to take these projections and see what would be the impacts on availability of water,” he says. “That potentially will have a lot of impact on how Morocco plans its water resources, and also how they could develop technologies that could help them alleviate those impacts through better management of water at the field scale, or maybe through precision agriculture using higher technology.”

The work was supported by the collaborative research program between Université Mohamed VI Polytechnique in Morocco and MIT.


Story Source: Materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Original written by David L. Chandler. 

Egypt to lose 1000 km of sandy coasts due to erosion

Egypt to lose 1000 km of sandy coasts due to erosion

Erosion of sandy beaches will endanger wildlife, cause massive losses in coastal cities in the world. Mohammed El-Said, in his Egypt related article titled Egypt to lose 1000 km of sandy coasts due to erosion: Study is by any means not exaggerating the potential impact of climate change on Egypt. The country’s habitable space is very limited to 5 per cent. The rest of the land is uninhabitable desert. The population, therefore, concentrated around the narrow Nile Valley and Nile Delta, with some smaller numbers along the Mediterranean and the Red Sea coasts would want to preserve as much as possible of the seafront.


The world’s beaches represent an interface between land and water, and provide protection for coasts from marine storms and hurricanes, but a new study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre indicates that without mitigating the effects of climate change and adapting to it, half of the world’s beaches will be vulnerable to erosion by the end of the century.

Erosion of sandy beaches will endanger wildlife and may cause heavy losses in coastal cities that no longer have buffer zones to protect them from rising sea levels and severe storms. In addition, coastal erosion increases the cost of governmental measures to mitigate the effects of climate change.

In the study published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers expect erosion to destroy 36,097 km, or 13.6% of sandy coasts around the world, including the Egyptian coast, within 30 years. The situation is expected to worsen in the second half of the century as 9,561 km, equivalent to 25.7% of the world’s beaches are estimated to be eroded.

Eroding scenarios

The study provides forecasts of the shoreline’s shape between the years 2050 and 2100. It links changes in the shoreline directly to climate change based on the concentration of greenhouse gases according to the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) approved by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Thus, the study aims to calculate shoreline changes globally based on the ratio of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

In the latest report of the IPCC in 2019, scientists studied the greenhouse gas concentration pathway and expect that, by 2100, if countries in the world do not comply with the terms of the Paris climate agreement, average global sea levels will rise between 61 centimeters to about one meter.

Researchers relied on climate data, models, 82 years’ worth of sea level monitoring, and 35 years of beach satellite imaging. They also simulated more than 100m storms and measured their global coastal erosion.

Based on the RCP of greenhouse gases, the study assumes two scenarios for melting ice surfaces. According to the first scenario, if the world continues to emit carbon at the current rate, sea levels will rise by about 80 cm, which means the coastline will decrease by 128.1 meters, and threatens to sink 131,745 km of beaches.

According to the most optimistic scenarios, sea levels will only rise by 50 cm by 2100, and the average coastline retreat will be 86.4 meters if governments adhere to international agreements to reduce emissions and reduce carbon dependence. According to the results of the study, up to 63% of the world’s low coastal areas will be threatened by flooding due to sea level rise and severe storms.

Facing waves 

“Climate change will exacerbate the effects of coastal erosion processes, which threatens densely populated areas,” said Michalis Vousdoukas, a researcher at the European Commission’s Research Centre and lead author of the study. 

He added that in the best scenarios, Egypt will lose between 35.1% to 50.5% of its sandy beaches due to erosion, which means the erosion of about 1,000 km of Egyptian sandy beaches. The percentage is likely to be even higher in countries like Saudi Arabia and Libya.

Hisham Elsafti, a coastal engineering consultant, and instructor in coastal engineering at Braunschweig Technical University in Germany, explained that according to the study’s expectations, the coasts of the Nile Delta will retreat by more than half a kilometer at the end of the century due to geological and hydromorphological factors. 

But Jeffrey S. Kargel, a senior research scientist at the University of Arizona, believes that although the methodology of the study is good and its conclusions are valid, it did not take into account some detailed changes. These changes include the sediment supply and the increase in the production and transport of sand and silt due to the increased melting glaciers, increased surface runoff of corrosion and more sediment supply from expanded agricultural areas, increased sediment supply from dam construction, and reduced sediment transport due to dams in many parts of the world.

Kargel explained that the melting glaciers do not directly affect Egypt, but affect places like Greenland and Alaska. “Construction of dams is the most important for Egypt due to the construction of the High Dam in Aswan, and then there will be a giant reservoir for the huge dam in Ethiopia,” he said. 

He added that “when the silt is blocked by reservoirs, this will be an obstacle to the construction of the delta areas, and thus the delta will drop and seawater will submerge its coast with its cities and villages, which will represent a major problem for Egypt.” But he believes that the Egyptian Delta, despite the problems it faces, is “lucky” because it is not subject to hurricanes.

A previous study by the American Geological Society, published in May 2017, indicated that Egypt is one of the countries most affected by climate change, and that between 20 to 40 km of the coast of the Nile River Delta will be flooded with seawater by the end of the century, due to Sea level rise.

Vousdoukas added that the UK expects to lose 27.7% of its sandy beaches, according to the best estimates, and 43.7% according to worst case scenarios. Australia is also expected to be the most affected, as about 15,000 km of its beaches are at risk, followed by Canada as one of the most affected countries, then Chile, Mexico, China, and the United States. It is also expected that more than 680 million Indian citizens living in the low-lying coastal region will be affected by the coastal erosion and climate change.

Glimmer of hope 

“The study provides first-of-its-kind forecasts regarding sand beach erosion, taking into account human interventions as well as the effects of climate change and natural factors,” said Vousdoukas. The researcher explained that there is still a glimmer of hope as it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent 40% of the coastline retreat, but this requires an international commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and related protocols, and requires some coastal protection measures to protect populated areas.

Elsafti, however, believes that Egypt should work on two main axes to avoid the negative effects of climate change and protect the beaches. The first is the effective contribution to calls to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and asking major industrial countries responsible for the problem to contribute more effectively to solving the problem by increasing contributions in initiatives such as the Green Climate Fund, which is already participating in funding studies and work to protect Egyptian beaches.

“The second axis is a scientific axis, as Egypt must increase the funding of scientific studies that cross the disciplines required to find engineering solutions suitable for the Egyptian environment and prepare to change the planning of cities and coastal areas and their uses to adapt to the effects of climate change,” Elsafti said.

20 June, World Refugee Day: A long way to safety

20 June, World Refugee Day: A long way to safety

Maria Diaz Crego wrote in commemoration of 20 June, World Refugee Day: A long way to safety that :

According to UNCHR, those fleeing their own countries for fear of persecution travel collectively around two billion kilometres per year to reach a safe haven. To honour their resilience and determination and to remind us of the long and tortuous journeys they are forced to make on their way to safety, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has launched the www.stepwithrefugees.org campaign to mark 2019 World Refugee Day.

Meanwhile, a New paper: Teachers need support to better help migrant and refugee students suffering from trauma Posted on 20 June 2019 by GEM Report reads as follows:

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Image: UNESCO/Seivan M.Salim

The number of migrant and refugee school-age children around the world has grown by 26% since 2000. Eight years on from the beginning of the Syrian conflict, a new paper released today and at an event in the Netherlands looks at the importance of making sure that education systems are set up to address the trauma that many of these children face before, and during their journeys to new countries. In particular, teachers need better training to provide psychosocial support to these children, including through social and emotional learning.

In Germany, about one-third of refugee children suffer from mental illness, and one-fifth suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Unaccompanied minors are particularly vulnerable. One third of 160 unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Norway from Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Somalia suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Among 166 unaccompanied refugee children and adolescents in Belgium, 37-47% had ‘severe or very severe’ symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Rates of trauma among the displaced in low and middle income countries are also high. For instance, 75% of 331 internally displaced children in camps in southern Darfur in Sudan met diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, and 38% had depression.

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Image: Anthony Upton/ARETE/GEM Report

In the absence of health centres, schools can play a key role in restoring a sense of stability. Teachers are not and should never be leant on as mental health specialists, but they can be a crucial source of support for children suffering from trauma if they’re given the right training. But they need basic knowledge about trauma symptoms and providing help to students, which many do not have. NGOs, including the International Rescue Committee, iACT, and Plan International, are training teachers to face this challenge through their programmes, but their reach is not enough.

In Germany, the majority of teachers and day-care workers said that they did not feel properly prepared to address the needs of refugee children. In the Netherlands, 20% of teachers with more than 18 years of experience working in mainstream schools reported that they experienced a high degree of difficulty dealing with students with trauma. The vast majority of these teachers (89%) encountered at least one student with trauma in their work. A review of early childhood care and education facilities for refugee children in Europe and North America found that, although many programmes recognized the importance of providing trauma-informed care, appropriate training and resources were ‘almost universally lacking’.

The paper shows the importance of social and emotional learning, as an approach to psychosocial support which targets skills, such as resilience, to manage stress, and is often rolled out through interactive, group-based discussions or role play. It shows the importance of this approach for less acute situations but emphasizes that for more challenging cases trained specialists are needed.

It is also important to involve parents in social and emotional learning so that activities can continue at home. One programme in Chicago looked at addressing symptoms of depression among Mexican immigrant women and primary school children with in- and after- school programmes and home visits, for instance, and improved school work, child mental health and family communication.

Key recommendations:

  1. Learning environments must be safe, nurturing and responsive.
  2. Teachers working with migrant and refugee students who have suffered trauma face particular hardships and need training to cope with challenges in the classroom.
  3. Psychosocial interventions require cooperation between education, health and social protection services.
  4. Social and emotional learning interventions need to be culturally sensitive and adapted to context. They should be delivered through extra-curricular activities as well.
  5. Community and parental involvement should not be neglected.