Arab region among those most vulnerable to climate change, forum hears

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Cultural Heritage Princess Dana Firas said at the opening of the digital symposium “Climate Change and Cultural Heritage: Priorities for the Arab Region” on Monday that “climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our world, and we in the Arab region are more vulnerable to these risks”. اضافة اعلان

The climate repercussions are visible on daily basis in the Arab world and the rest of the world, where unprecedented temperature rises and droughts are being experienced, she added.

Abdullah Dreiat, climate change specialist and a member of the Green Generation Foundation, told Jordan News that the Arab world is one of the regions most sensitive to climate change due to a number of factors, including the deteriorating economic situation, challenges in managing natural resources, water scarcity, desertification in some Arab countries, and conflicts and wars.

Such changes, according to Dreiat, are extremely worrisome since they jeopardize food and water security, as well as biodiversity and vegetation cover.

The Arab world, in general, and Jordan, in particular, although aware of the dangers, lack the ability to cope with them, in terms of resources and infrastructure, he stated.

As such, the greatest way to avoid threats is to “treat the environment with care”, he said, adding that the only way the Jordanian government may achieve environmental security is by ensuring that policies and plans it sets are carried out.

He noted that the government is currently updating its climate change policy for the year 2050, which focuses on a low-carbon economy, as well as the national adaptation plan, which facilitates the measures that the government and relevant authorities must implement in order to adapt to climate change, and which focuses on vital development sectors like agriculture.

Dreiat also mentioned the need for financial resources, stating that Jordan should have access to climate-related money, such as the Green Climate Fund.

As a result of population pressure and economic decline, Jordan needs financial resources earmarked for climate change projects, and to create local capacities to deal with the existing and future environmental situation, whether at the level of relevant national authorities or ta that of civil society organizations, he stressed.

Dureid Mahasneh, an environmental expert, told Jordan News that Jordan is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, as evidenced by the fact that it is halting solar energy projects, and its polluting industry “as a result of preventing the use of alternative energy”.

According to Mahasneh, the government is not dealing with climate change wisely. It recently increased taxes on hybrid cars, which are considered environmentally friendly, increased costs for individuals who use alternative energy, and made clearance procedures for solar panel installations on rooftops more complicated.

He went on to say that pumping water in Jordan costs roughly JD300 million per year for electricity, and that the National Water Carrier project is responsible for more than 46 percent of Jordan’s environmental damage.

The Jordanian government’s priority, according to Mahasneh, is to collect taxes and levies, or so-called short-term gains, rather than consider the long-term, as residents saving power reduces energy imports from overseas, reduces pollution, and expands economic prospects.

Head of the Dibeen Association for Environmental Development and environmental rights activist Hala Murad told Jordan News that Princess Firas’ statement is consistent with the World Health Organization’s report released on April 4, which stated that 90 percent of the world’s population does not breathe clean air, and that the eastern Mediterranean region is the most polluted.

According to Murad, while the Arab world is not one of the worst pollutants, it is one of the most susceptible to pollution due to the region’s arid character, the paucity of rain and vegetation cover, the effect of dust, and high level of particles in the air, among other factors. As a result, the region is also prone to frequent flash floods that most Arab countries are unable to manage due to inadequate infrastructure.

The Jordanian government, in her opinion, should improve environmental awareness among residents, various governmental groups, municipalities, and the Parliament, “which is the greatest body of decision-makers, lawmakers, and implementers”.

She said that the Ministry of Environment issued a plan to address climate change for the first time in 2019, but its activities have yet to materialize.

Murad also stressed the importance of intersectionality in the work of ministries and government organizations, noting that work should not be limited to the Ministry of Environment as “cooperation results in greater value”.

Murad criticized the Ministry of Agriculture’s failure to attend any of the local and global climate forums, “despite the fact that agriculture is one of the sectors directly affected by climate change risks”, stressing that attending such event would expand the ministry’s knowledge, tools, and ways of working with farmers to address environmental threats.

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