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Document Abstract
Published: 2009

Arab environment: climate change and the impact of climate change on Arab countries

Urgent need for climate change adaptation measures in Arab countries
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Although greenhouse gas emissions from the Arab world amount to 4.2% of global emissions, the impact of climate change on the fragile environment of the region and its people is expected to be immense. This report aims to provide information to governments, business, academia and the public about the impact of climate change on the Arab countries, and encourage concrete action to face the challenge.

The report analyses the Arab response to the urgent need for adaptation measures, and uses the latest research findings to describe the vulnerabilities of natural and human systems in the Arab world to climate change and the impacts on different sectors. In an attempt to help shape adequate policies, the report discusses options for a post-Kyoto regime and outlines the state of international negotiations in this regard.

Specifically, the report looks at: 

  • public opinion and climate change 
  • GHC emissions – mitigation efforts in Arab countries 
  • the results of remote sensing study of some impacts of global warming on the Arab region 
  • impact of climate change on coastal areas, food production, fresh water, human health, ecosystems and biodiversity, infrastructure, tourism 
  • international negotiations for a post-Kyoto regime 
  • interrelation between climate change and trade negotiations

The report finds that little work is being carried out to make Arab countries prepared for climate change challenges. No concerted data gathering and research could be traced regarding the impacts of climate change on a variety of areas such as health, infrastructure and tourism while the economic impact appears to be totally ignored. Reliable records on climate patterns in the region barely exist. Policymakers need to be aware of the impact of climate change in multiple areas social and economic life, taking urgent measures to address this.

Recommendations on specific areas affected by impact include: 

  • On fresh water: changing cropping patterns, adopting water saving techniques, introducing integrated water resources management, developing new varieties of crop resistant to higher temperatures and soil salinity and initiating desalination techniques 
  • On food production: crop varieties, fertilisers, irrigation techniques and other water management practices need to altered in light of climate variability 
  • On tourism: future tourism development must take anticipated changes into account through integrated and inclusive planning such as clearer guidelines on the allowed distance between permanent structures and the shoreline. Options for sustainable alternatives such as cultural tourism and inland and desert tourist destinations should be explored 
  • On infrastructure: current infrastructure should be enhanced to withstand climate change, design criteria and operations should be upgraded, new technologies need to be utilised and the public needs to be brought into decision-making processes 
  • On biodiversity: an interlinked geographical entity should be developed and implement regional mechanisms for coordinating conservation activities

[adapted from the authors]

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