The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is considered the world’s driest region, it is the home to %6 of the world’s population yet it contains 12 countries that face extreme water scarcity like Tunisia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Algeria. According to The World Bank, MENA region has less than %2 of the world’s renewable water supply. For many people, Climate change means cold winters, heavy rains and lots of environmental hazards, but for MENA region climate change means inhabitable weather, forced migration and loss of traditional income. It is a real threat that might make the region unlivable.
Climate change is already affecting MENA region in dire ways, but it is expected that climate change will cause extreme heat to spread across more of the land for longer periods of time, making some countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia uninhabitable because it will create humid heat conditions at a level incompatible with human existence, it will also play a major role in reducing growing areas for agriculture which is one of the most important sectors in the region. The rising temperature will put intense pressure on crops and water resources which will eventually lead to increasing the level or migration and risk of conflict.
MENA region has experienced a tremendous amount of environmental hazards due to climate change effects. Between 2006 and 2010 Syria experienced extreme droughts that turned %60 of the country into the dry desert which made them become economically impoverished. In 2013 heavy and continuous rains in most of Sudan has led to floods that destroyed 25,000 homes and left hundreds of thousands of people with no work, home, or even family. UAE has also suffered a lot from climate change effects, in 2008 at least three people were killed and 350 injured in a horrific 60 vehicle pile-up due to heavy fog. In 2016 Tunisia’s rainfall dropped by %30 causing agricultural losses of nearly two billion dinars.
It is clear now that MENA region has no option but to go “green”. Adaptation along with mitigation measures will be essential to build up the resilience needed to cope with the changes. There is an urgent need for governments to invest in new clean-energy innovations that will effectively reduce greenhouse gases emission and halt rising temperature, Morocco has been a good example on this by making climate change adaptation and setting the country on a path to green growth a national priority. The country made a strategy called Green Morocco Plan which is focused on agricultural adaptation, sustainable water and land management. Tunisia has also set a good example by including the protection of the environment in its new constitution. Bahrain opened its first solar plant factory this year which shows the government interest in renewable energy investments.
MENA’s climate is ideal for renewable energy technologies, the abundant sunshine and open spaces could be a perfect source for sustainable power such as solar and wind power. Some countries in the region are setting good examples and moving forward with their plans for a better environment but other countries are still depending on fossil fuel industries as their main source of energy like Saudi Arabia and that is what holds the region from tackling the issue in a proper way.
The people who have little to no contribution in the issue of climate change are the one suffering the most from its effects and therefore tackling climate change should be every countries’ first priority because by standing up against climate change, we are laying foundations for a more stable future and less poverty, it is also a way to make sure the next generation will have a chance to live in a good environment.