Perspectives from Middle East and North African Countries
Edited by Carlo Altomonte and Massimiliano Ferrara
Chapter 5: Climate change challenges and policies for the MENA countries
The potential impact of global climate change poses serious challenges for the MENA region, its economies, societies and its people. Hotter and drier conditions would extend the area prone to desertification. The impacts of climate change will be also felt in the region's water resource system, especially with regard to reductions in water availability. Consequently, food security would also be threatened by falls in production and world price rises. The consequences on human health are hence obvious: reductions in food security can increase the risks of malnutrition and hunger, and the combination of heat and pollution would lead to an upsurge in illness, especially among urban populations. Finally, the region's economies would be adversely affected not only by the direct impacts of climate change, but also through the cost of adaptive measures. Table 5.1 provides, for some of the Mediterranean countries, an order of magnitude of the cost of environmental degradation as a percentage of GDP induced by the health impacts of urban air pollution and waterborne illnesses, the economic cost of water resources and soil/land degradation, impacts related to waste management, and the cost of coastal zone degradation. A common trend in the Mediterranean countries shown in Table 5.1 is that the most significant impact and losses are induced by health impacts of severe air pollution associated with lack of safe water and sanitation. Productivity losses associated with soil degradation amount to a significant percentage of GDP in countries where agricultural share of GDP is substantial.
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