By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Jordan must take its climate change adaptation measures to the national level in order to enact needed programmes estimated to cost the Kingdom billions of dollars over the next decade, experts and officials say.

The fact that the Kingdom doesn’t contribute to greenhouse emissions but is already falling victim to climate change has led decision makers to place adaptation to climate change as a priority, officials and experts in the field said.

Despite the introduction of programmes designed to tackle climate change, authorities have fallen short of incorporating climate change adaptation issues into national policies, particularly at the ministries of agriculture, energy and mineral resources, industry and trade, education and health, according to experts.

With climate change adaptation measures expected to cost the county billions of dollars over the upcoming decades, officials say there is a growing need for comprehensive efforts in the Kingdom, one of the hardest hit by the phenomenon in the Arab world.

Costly, needed measures

In order to integrate climate change into national policies, an estimated $1.564 billion is needed for climate change adaptation and an additional $3.345 billion for mitigation by the year 2020, states the draft National Environmental and Economic Development Study for Climate Change (NEEDS) report.

According to projections in the draft report, carried out by the ministries of environment, water and irrigation, agriculture, energy and finance, the figure increases to $5 billion by the year 2050.

The agriculture sector alone requires $308.6 million to implement programmes to alleviate the impact of climate change on food security, while the water sector requires $3.53 billion to offset the impact on the country’s scarce water sources, the report said.

Such projects include the introduction of water harvesting techniques in rangelands, protected crop projects, water harvesting, enhancing irrigation efficiency thorough fertilised irrigation and the rehabilitation of desert lands.

The high price tag of adaptation highlights the need for the government to change its ways in dealing with the shortages of various resources as a result of climate change, according to Mohammad Alam, head of the environment status and environmental indicators directorate at the Ministry of Environment.

“Jordan is now more aware of the effect of climate change on its sectors than ever before; local studies indicate that climate change negatively impacts water, food security, gender equality as well as public health,” Alam told The Jordan Times.

Munjed Sharif, an expert in climate change adaptation, said recent climate change adaptation programmes are taking into account the adverse impact of global warming on various sectors as well as pressure on resources generated by demographic changes.

Sharif, who heads the UNDP-funded Climate Change Adaptation to Sustain Jordan’s Millennium Development Goals Achievements Programme, said that as climate change is resulting in shifting rainfall patterns that affect surface and underground water sources, it is “imperative” to protect water sources from pollution.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Water and Irrigation Secretary General Maysoon Zu’bi said that although the ministry incorporates climate change in its Water for Life strategy, climate change challenges are not considered at all government agencies.

“Policies tackling climate change challenges on a national level are not enough; every ministry must incorporate climate change into its agenda because the phenomenon affects all sectors,” Zu’bi told The Jordan Times.

She noted that the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Jordan Institution for Standards and Metrology should take climate change conscious measures, such as banning the import of appliances that use large amounts of water, while the Ministry of Agriculture should ban the cultivation of water-consuming crops.

In order to address pressing needs caused by climate change, the NEEDS draft report recommends forming a national strategy on climate change to gauge its impact on the country’s resources.

“To date Jordan does not have a separate ‘climate change policy’ document,” the draft report stated.

“Therefore there is a pressing need to develop such a policy,” it added. ”