Climate: Study, risk GDPs falling in North Africa and ME

Water resources could sink at dangerously low levels

10 August, 16:52

(ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, AUGUST 10 - North African and Middle Eastern countries are particularly vulnerable and their economies could be weakened by climate change, according to a report published by the EU-funded Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Institutes of Sciences (FEMISE). "The economies of North Africa and the Middle East will be affected by climate change. Our preliminary estimates indicate that a 1ºC increase in temperature causes a decrease in the per capita GDP of about 8% on average, with a range from -17% for Egypt to 0% for Turkey, Tunisia and some Mashreq countries. This decrease could even reach 14% if we do not introduce control measures to adapt to climate change," says the recently published FEMISE study on the economic cost of climate change in the Middle East and North Africa.

Declining water resources, land degradation and a rise in sea levels of a few centimetres are all direct consequences of rising temperatures. "In urban areas, temperature increases of 1 to 3º C could expose between 6 and 25 million people to the risk of coastal flooding," say Nicolas Peridy from the University of Toulon-Var and Ahmed Ghoneim from Cairo University, the authors of this study.

Ecosystems could also undergo changes. "These impacts are likely to affect economic activities with major effects on agriculture and tourism, following the significant drop in crop yields and increased salination of the land due to erosion and soil pollution by salt," according to the report. The study predicts an increase of 2°C within 15 to 20 years and between 4 and 6.5°C by the end of the 21st century. A sharp drop in rainfall, estimated at 20%, will also hit the Maghreb and the Middle East.

The water deficit could affect 80 to 100 million people in the coming years. This is considered a "worrying" situation, as the people of the Maghreb and the Middle East currently have the lowest water resources.Some countries have already evaluated these changes and are developing action plans with the support of the European Commission and the World Bank. "In terms of water management, many adaptation measures can be implemented through rational use of water, based on new pricing systems and recycling." Finally, the authors of the FEMISE report recommend that, "measures related to new supply sources, such as desalination, should be considered". These actions, which are considered insufficient, require large-scale implementation.

Countries must boost structural changes and coordinate their environmental policies. FEMISE is an EU-funded project, which aims to contribute to the reinforcement of dialogue on economic and financial issues in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Union for the Mediterranean.

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