Climate Security & Water Stress

Climate security is causing additional water stress in a region that is already extremely affected by water scarcity.  The arid to semi-arid climate, the lack of renewable water resources that lie within the boundaries of the Arab countries, as well as the increasing pressure on groundwater resources, some of which are non-renewable, are all contributing factors to water scarcity. Fast growing populations and economies increase the overall water demand, as agricultural systems need to be able to boost food production in order to ensure food security in the region. To do this, a massive enhancement of crop water use efficiency is required, as agricultural production is directly affected by water stress.  Several countries of the Arab world still lack the means and capacity to ensure access to sufficient potable water and safe drinking water for all their citizens. The pollution of water resources places a further limitation on water use, while rising sea levels are heightening salinity levels in coastal groundwater aquifers and soils. The destruction of ecosystem health and loss of biodiversity are affecting the ability of ecosystems to provide vital ecosystem services through a balanced water cycle that enables water purification services. Water stress can impact population groups differently, as especially the poor and marginalized, as well as vulnerable groups, such as women, children, or refugees face a lack of secure water access and the financial means to cope with water-related climate change effects such as floods, salinity, or droughts. As many of the Arab world’s water resources are transboundary, effective sharing agreements between countries is a key issue. Water stress also has an impact on energy, as hydro-electricity is a principal energy generation mechanism in the region. Many of the technical actions needed to address those challenges are well defined. We now need to develop the strategic institutional tools to be able to implement water stress-related actions through a regional policy framework that enables integrated, concerted, and targeted action across the region.