Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Egypt, Jordan and Palestine threatened by global warming

Al Bawaba: A recent report published by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia illustrated that the security risk of climate change to the Middle East is very real.

With the Middle East being the world’s most water-stressed region, climate change, which is projected to cause sea level rise that will flood Egypt’s 2nd largest city, Alexandria, and displace millions of people, will contribute to even greater water stress in the region. “The expected rise in sea level will make dysfunctional the coastal groundwater for 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza,” claimed Nader Khateeb, Palestinian director of Friends of the Earth Middle East.

“Being left unprepared will affect not only economic, physical, and environmental security, but national, regional, and global security, if actions are not taken now to mitigate, and adapt to, the projected impacts of climate change,” Khateeb stressed.

Munqeth Mehyar, Director of FoEME’s Amman office and FoEME chair stated “it will be essential for the most developed countries to provide developing countries with technical and financial assistance in adapting to climate change. Bali presents a major opportunity to enhance these efforts, and countries of the region will have to manage water resources and cooperate over transboundary water resources to a much greater extent in the future, as a result of climate change.”

“Under climate change there will be no fresh water resources available for agriculture”, Mehyar added.

The organization noted the climate change is expected to make water resources even more scarce in Jordan and Palestine, which already are among the most water-scarce countries in the world, and will thereby contribute to even greater water stress in the region. “FoEME calls on the Jordanian Government to assist rural communities in Jordan that currently are dependent on agriculture to diversify their income sources to rural tourism and small cottage industries. Government policies that continue to heavily subsidize water for agriculture are unsustainable and are preventing us from preparing for the inevitable,” he said.

US leadership is required to both prevent the worst impacts and to provide developing countries such as Jordan and Palestine with technical and financial assistance in adapting to climate change. The oil producing Gulf States must also step up to the plate and become part of the solution,” Mehyar continued.

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