Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report summary - Chapter 10: Regional Perspectives


The tenth chapter of the UN 2020 Water and Climate Change discusses existing processes and challenges in the world from different regional perspectives. Despite the water-related impacts of climate change transcending borders, regional perspectives are often missing from climate change dialogue, agreements, funding mechanisms, and action. Instead, climate change policy is often framed at the national level.

The report breaks down water-related climate change activities by region, but this summary will only focus on North Africa and West Asia because of Dar Si Hmad’s work in Morocco. The region’s vulnerability to climate change is high across the region, but vulnerability increases in southern areas like the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

In North Africa and West Asia, the effects of climate change intersect with complicated socio-economic and political dynamics that affect water at subnational, national, and regional levels. These new dynamics can come from the politicization and weaponization of water resources and displacement, particularly for countries experiencing violent conflict. What further complicates climate change and water management in the region is how “almost all Arab states “are highly interdependent,” because of their shared reliance on transboundary water resources, making integrated regional water policy difficult to achieve. To add further complications, the World Bank estimates that water scarcity exacerbated by climate change will cost up to 6% of the region’s gross domestic product by 2050.

When considering appropriate policy responses in the region, the report focused on Jordan, Mauritania, and Tunisia. All three countries have included water-related measures in their national plan, NDCs, and Adaptation Plan – all at the national and transboundary level. Morocco’s neighbor Tunisia is part of a project called Regional Cooperation in the Water Sector in the Maghreb (CREM), which is funded by German development agencies BMZ and GIZ, along with the Sahara and Sahel Observatory. The goal of the CREM is to improve water resources in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia by improving regional cooperation and information-sharing platforms.

The report suggests regional communities around the world should assess the impacts, vulnerabilities, and potential adaptation measures for countries. This is done successfully with the Regional Initiative for the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources and Socio-Economic Vulnerability in the Arab Region (RICCAR), which prioritizes strengthening institutions to act on climate change in the national and regional scale.

Countries and regions should be adopting integrated approaches, which strengthen existing infrastructure across sectors and take action at all levels. Some examples of integrated approaches include investing in better and more accessible information or transporting and treating water, as well as harnessing both adaptation and mitigation benefits.

Instead of regional integrated approaches, many countries operate with nationally determined contributions (NDCs) from the Paris Agreement. Although water-related issues are the most often-cited priority for NDCs adaptation measures, there are variations in how water is mentioned. Countries within the Economic Commission for Europe, for example, place little emphasis on water and instead focus on mitigation measures with their NDCs and have transboundary climate-water initiatives. On the other hand, more than half the NDCs for countries like those in Economic and Social Commission for West Asia do mention water-related measures for institution-building and infrastructure.

Overall, however, there is room to improve the water-related measures of NDCs. The report stated that only half of countries had climate change strategists who were aware of the water sectors plans to adapt and mitigate climate change. Additionally, not all countries are committed to water conservation, especially the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific countries. All regions, however, have few concrete proposals that relate to water-related climate adaptation.

Written by: Gari DeRamos, Dar Si Hmad's former Intern

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