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Development Account Projects

Developing the capacities of the Arab countries for climate change adaptation by applying integrated water resource management tools

Background:

Nearly all countries in the Arab region suffer from freshwater scarcity. This condition is expected to worsen with climate change since climate change models generally predict a substantial reduction in the availability of freshwater resources. The ability to ensure freshwater quantity and quality in face of these challenges will have important implications for development in key socio-economic sectors. Unless properly and promptly addressed, these water-related challenges will hamper the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals related to poverty, health and environmental sustainability, as well as internationally agreed development goals aimed at achieving sustainable development.


In recognition of this urgent need, the Arab Ministerial Declaration on Climate Change, adopted by the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment in 2007, called for the preparation of an assessment of the impact of climate change on water resources. This invitation was formalized at the twenty-fifth ministerial session of ESCWA in 2008, which adopted a resolution mandating the Commission to prepare a vulnerability assessment of the impact of climate change on socio-economic development, with particular emphasis on freshwater resources. The Arab Summit for Economic and Social Development in 2009 subsequently endorsed the preparation of a project to assess the impacts of climate change on water resources in the Arab region. The project was approved by the Arab Ministerial Water Council and is currently under way through an inter-agency collaborative process.


The current project will build upon the findings of this climate change assessment by assisting Government decision makers and their advisers to better understand the linkages between climate change adaptation and the water sector, in particular how integrated water resource management tools can support climate change adaptation in key sectors, namely, agriculture, economic development, the environment, health and human settlements.


ESCWA and the UNEP Regional Office for West Asia are well positioned to execute this multidisciplinary regional project given their special role supporting the Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab Region, which provides advice to the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment on climate change and other regional issues. To this end, ESCWA and UNEP will collaborate with other partners serving the Arab region, including ECA, WHO, the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association and the Arab Centre for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands.

Objective:

To develop the capacity of Arab Governments to adapt to climate change by applying integrated water resource management tools in the key sectors that will be affected by climate change impacts on freshwater resources

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased understanding of Government officials and regional stakeholders of the impact of climate change on water resources as it relates to key sectors, including agriculture, economy, environment, health and human settlements
  • Increased capacity of Arab Governments to incorporate integrated water resource management tools into strategies, policies, plans and programmes related to key sectors that will be affected by climate change impacts on water resources

Implementation status:

In progress.