Hazim El-Naser October 31, 2021

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) began in Glasgow City of Scotland with the aim following up promises and achievements since the Paris Agreement, which are considered to be modest in terms of reduction of gas emissions or the allocation of the needed financial resources by the UN Green Fund, as it failed to reach the 100 billion dollars target by 2020.

The most important goals of the  Glasgow conference are the commitment of industrialised countries (mainly G-20) to reduce gas emissions with a very ambitious goal of zero gas emissions by the mid of the century, and  to keep global warming below the 1.5°C by the 2030s, in comparison to pre-industrial levels. The second goal is the commitment of mainly the G-20 to help developing countries provide at least $100 billion to the Green Fund for projects that reduce global warming and provide advanced technology to poor countries to adapt to climate change with active participation of all stakeholders.

With the exception of the Arab region and some Central African countries, the impact of climate change for the rest of the world means flash floods, melting of glacier, warming of oceans water temperature and the associated consequential impacts on the environment, population life, health, fisheries and agriculture, a matter of importance for industrialised countries in protecting their environment and economic interests. 

In the case of a country like Jordan, which is considered to be one of the scarcest water countries in the world, in terms of per capita availability of renewable water resources, climate change simply means more water shortages and suffering from lack of water supply-a life time challenge Jordanians will most probably have to live and struggle with it for many years to come.

Due to climate change impact, temporal and spatial rainfall will have a significant impact on the availability of water and the continuity of irrigated  and rainfed agriculture with all associated negative impacts on water and food security. The resulted  high temperature rates, increase intensity of heat waves and  the severity of drought, and will definitely lead  to high evaporation rates, increase water demand for the agriculture sector by about 18 per cent. Such additional needed water supplies as a result of climate change will not be compensated in anyway due to lack of affordable and easily accessible water supplies.

In addition to these external factors, there are many national elements and improper practices which accelerate the impact of climate change on our fragile environment i.e.  excessive groundwater overpumping, expansion of irrigated agriculture at the expense of groundwater precious reserves, logging, poor management of dams’ water storage, expansion of traditional energy (fossil fuel) production and use at the expense of renewable energy, improper land planning, weak programmes to enhance climate change resilience and adaptation, and  finally, the inability to benefit from Green Fund financing programmes in water, environment and agriculture sectors.

Jordan is at a crossroads in this regard and needs to draft as quick as possible a working strategy to address climate change impact across the various targeted sectors. Out of it, sectoral policies to be developed, programmemes and action plans to increase awareness, resilience and adaptation to climate change impacts. Linking such a strategy throughout  the region with regional cooperation projects, considering climate change regional impact dimension, will add important value to the implementation of the strategy under consideration. As conflict adds to environmental degradation, and considering the political and conflicts statues surrounding Jordan including the issue of influx of refugees, such a strategy with regional link becomes a must. 

Jordan needs  to establish a Jordan National Centre for Climate Change (JNCCC) that works in an integrated manner and to coordinate between different sectors, universities, NGOs and the private sector to come up with nationwide projects under the envisaged national strategy programmes to address  climate change impacts including  ways and means in how to tap into the Green Climate Change Fund. The JNCCC will coordinate the needed financing to implement projects arising from strategy’s programmes and plans. It will be more useful to have the JNCCC under the auspices of the Ministry of Planning for better coordination, prioritisation and integration among the target sectors.

Th writer is chairman of the Middle East Water Forum, former minister of Water and Irrigation/Jordan, former minister of Agriculture/Jordan, former member of the Jordanian Parliament