Kuwait Declaration calls for Actions to Minimize Short- and Long-term Vulnerability of the West Asia and North Africa region to Climate Change
An International Conference on Adaptation to Climate Change and Food Security in West Asia and North Africa today adopted the “Kuwait Declaration” which called for urgent actions to minimize the region’s short and long-term vulnerability to climate change.
The declaration was adopted by more than 80 participants from 18 countries and nine international and regional organizations who attended the four day conference in Kuwait City.
Agriculture is the primary source of livelihoods and revenue for the majority of the population in many countries in West Asia and North Africa and over 70% of the region’s poor live in rural areas. Cereal yields are currently only half the world average and all countries in the region are net importers of food. Over 70% of the land area is rangelands and traditional livestock provide the major support for livelihoods. Population growth is straining natural resources. Expansion of cultivated land and livestock numbers and a decrease in forests is leading to land degradation and desertification.
West Asia and North Africa is one of the most water scarce regions in the world with 1100 m3/capita water availability - just 12% of the global average. Water overuse or misuse is exacerbating environmental degradation.
Climate change has multi-dimensional impacts on the region’s agro-ecosystems because of increases in temperature, declines in renewable fresh water availability, sea level rise, salinity, increased frequency and intensity of extreme events (droughts and floods), and shifting of cropping zones and biomes. Vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by widespread poverty. Climate change projections show a 2-3°C rise in much of region by 2050 and a reduction of precipitation by 10-20%, although with variable local changes.
Climate change will affect the four dimensions of food security: availability, accessibility, food utilization, food system stability in West Asia and North Africa. Crop productivity is projected to decrease due to reduced rainfall and increased frequency and intensity of droughts. Climate change directly affects the quality and quantity of the forage that can be produced in a given ecoregion. An overall productivity decline in livestock nomadic system is expected due to erratic rainfall and decline in the moisture regime. Climate change is projected to have adverse impacts on ecosystem functions and services due to disruptions in life-support processes.
Principal recommendations of the “Kuwait Declaration” are to:
- Integrate science, practices and policy by mainstreaming adaptation into existing projects and programs; initiate and strengthen cooperation among academic and research institutions, international organizations, and NGOs; and enhance coordination among relevant ministries and institutions at the local, national and regional levels to better understand how farmers, fishermen, foresters and herders, are coping with climate change for improving transfer of best practices;
- Enhance capacity building activities in the region and strengthen the climate, crop, livestock and fishery data collection capability, analysis and modeling through increased public and private investment in climate change adaptation; enhance capacity to access other available financial resources and develop social safety nets so that poor people could be given access to development programmes and insurance;
- Stimulate multi-disciplinary research on climate change and food security and develop innovative strategies that contribute to socio-economic sustainability of the production systems in fragile environments through promotion of effective risk management and risk reduction strategies;
- Strengthen regional cooperation and exchange of successful experiences among countries through the creation of a Network for Climate Change and Food Security in West Asia and North Africa;
- Develop innovative financial mechanisms to scale up technical and financial support for the adaptation efforts of the WANA countries;
- Examine alternative scenarios for the future food security in the region, implications of climate change impacts and the positive and negative implications of potential policy choices in this area.
The International Conference in Kuwait City was organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the Ohio State University, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and the Meteorological Department of the State of Kuwait.