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Regional Consultation in Syria – Water Scarcity, Drought and Population Mobility

The Arab region currently deals with strained water resources and faces further aridity due to the rising temperatures associated with climate change.  Rainfall is projected to decrease by as much as 30% in parts of the region and the flow of rivers and streams such as the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile are expected to slow, accompanied by an increase in desertification.  This will exert considerable pressure on livelihoods. Accordingly, the first of three consultative meetings for the Arab Climate Resilience Initiative, held in Damascus, Syria on the 15-16 of September, 2010 in partnership with Syrian Ministry of State of Environmental Affairs focused on "Climate Change Impacts in the Arab Region: Water Scarcity, Drought and Population Mobility". 

The consultation included expert presentations on the scientific, environmental, and socio-economic aspects of these climate change impacts, including country case studies and pilot projects, as well as presentations on best-practice policy guidelines. It was attended by over 100 participants from 15 countries across the region and others worldwide.  A variety of UN agencies, research institutes, and private sector representatives contributed to the discussions, in addition to the League of Arab States, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), NASA, the African Development Bank, members of the media, and many others. 

Over two days, six panels of interventions and subsequent discussion covered the following issues:

- The impacts of climate change on water resources, land use, and potential threats to arable land and food security.
- The exacerbation of drought and desertification by climate change processes.
- Climate change impacts on social development, particularly focusing on migration and public health.
- Case Studies of current national and regional adaptation measures.
- Opportunities for financing adaptation to climate change impacts.

The consultation closed with a synthesis of the climate change adaptation challenges and priorities, and methods of developing an integrated regional policy framework.  Overall, participants voiced a need for better, sustained, high-level coordination and communication across different institutions (i.e. ministries, institutes, regional bodies, etc) to address the impacts. Further investment in and a revitalization of science and research in the region, including advancing research on climate change impacts and building collaborative knowledge bases, through both national and international support and an enabled business environment will be necessary to support these responses. Well-supported, efficient technology transfer related to adaptation and resource management will also be a priority for improving agricultural techniques, and furthering efforts to conserve and protect water resources. Supporting all of these processes will, in turn, rely on regional collaboration to identify and tap into new sources of funding, especially for the middle-income and least developed countries in the region. 

For further details on the findings of this consultation, please see "The Arab Climate Resilience Initiative: Towards a Unified Response".



The Arab Climate Resilience Initiative (ACRI) is a UNDP programme that aims to address the challenges of climate change by connecting stakeholders in the Arab States to innovative knowledge, partnerships and solutions. More on the Initiative