Climate change also threatens to ‘derail development results’

By Hana Namrouqa – Nov 15,2017

BONN — Experts on environment and sustainable development on Wednesday warned that climate change is increasingly becoming a root cause for displacement in the Arab region, urging more attention to the impact of climate change on vulnerable groups.

The Arab region is one of the world’s most vulnerable areas to the effects of climate change, according to the experts and representatives of international development agencies, who noted that recent waves of climate-induced droughts are increasing the fragility of the region.

At a discussion session on the impact of climate change on the Arab region with a special focus on vulnerable groups, they underlined that climate change has had profound implications on food, water security and peace in the Arab region.

The session was held by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the sidelines of the ongoing 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties.

Climate change is not only worsening fragility among the least developed countries of the region, it is also threatening to derail hard earned development results, they said, noting that chronic water scarcity and limited arable land place the region as one of the world’s most water insecure areas globally and one of the world’s largest food importer.

Kishan Khoday, regional team leader for climate change, disaster risk reduction and resilience in the Arab region at the UNDP, said that there is a lot of attention paid to the climate-vulnerable communities such as small island states and coastal and mountain communities globally, but less attention given to vulnerable groups.

“More attention is needed on communities facing conflict impacts and reduction of social cohesion as well as social vulnerability with climate risk and climate impacts,” Khoday said at the session.

He highlighted climate change as a root cause for displacement of many people in the Arab region.

“Climate change is an exacerbating factor to displacement as droughts are becoming more frequent and more severe. Increased water insecurity in many areas causes domestic displacement from rural to urban areas and loss of livelihoods in the process,” Khoday noted.

Meanwhile, Roula Majdalani, director of the Sustainable Development Policies Division at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, said that the Arab region is fragile to the impact of climate change, changing weather, increasing incidents of extreme weather events, rising temperature and changing seasonal patterns.

She noted that climate change scenarios for the Arab region predict increased sea level at coastal areas, more desertification, increased water-borne diseases and more scarce water resources.

“The key vulnerable sectors are agriculture, water and health. In terms of vulnerable groups, the region has recently witnessed an unprecedented number of migrants and displaced people who have very low adaptation capacity,” Majdalani noted.

The conflicts in the region are adding to the vulnerability of refugees, she said, noting that, in the context of climate change, many are leaving their land because of the changing climate and its impact on their livelihoods through floods and droughts.

Touching on the gender dimension of climate change, Majdalani noted that its impact on women is particular strong because they not only represent a large group of the Arab population, but they also mostly work in fields, making them disproportionally impacted by climate change.