“Unless action on water is taken, the political and economic consequences will be significant. For example, the impacts of climate change on water scarcity, in the absence of strategies for mitigation and adaptation, could lead to a 14% drop in the region’s GDP by 2050.”
Abdessalam Ould Ahmed highlighted the challenges to the Arab region’s food security due to multiple risks arising from conflicts, water scarcity and climate change.
“Countries of the region need to implement long-term and comprehensive sustainable water management practices to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030. A peaceful and stable environment is an absolute pre-condition for farmers to respond to the challenges of water scarcity and climate change. The region is not only water scarce, but also dampened by instability and conflict that it is in need of immediate intervention as well as long-term strategies,” Ould Ahmed said.
In 2014, in response to these alarming challenges, the FAO launched a Regional Initiative on Water Scarcity to support member countries in identifying strategies, policies and practices that promote sustainable solutions to water shortage in the region.
The serious potential effect of water scarcity on GDP has caught the attention of ministers of finance, who recently attended the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings in Washington D.C. to discuss how to fill the financial gap for water and sanitation infrastructure, including using innovative solutions that include micro-finance.