April 17, 2007 – Climate Change May Further Erode Political Stability in the Middle East

Climate Change May Further Erode Political Stability in the Middle East

April 17, 2007

EcoPeace Middle East, a joint Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian organization, congratulates Britain for bringing climate change for discussion at the UN Security Council today.

“It is time that the international community recognizes and seriously addresses the security implications of changes that are already taking place” said Munqeth Mehyar, Jordanian Chair of EcoPeace.

Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a media briefing specific to the Middle East concerning global warming.

Climate change will make it difficult for countries in the Middle East to satisfy their water needs, due to decreased precipitation, rising temperatures, and increased agriculture water demand.

Decreased precipitation is expected in Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and even Lebanon, which was not hitherto considered a water poor country.

In Egypt, it is feared that 12-15% of the agricultural lands in the Nile Delta, along with enormous residential areas and economic centres, could be lost to flooding.

“Climate changes are of concern not only from an environmental viewpoint, or in regard to regional water supply” commented Mehyar. “The social ramifications of climate change in countries of the Middle East are likely to politically destabilize the region, by causing waves of environmental refugees from countries including Egypt, as happened in the tragic case of Darfur, Sudan. The expected damage to the economic base and to the residential areas of hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East could lead to grave political implications.”

It may have appeared that the era of desalinization brought about the end of predictions of wars over water. Nonetheless, it is forecast that the water sources in Lebanon will decrease by 15% as a result of a 1.2 °C temperature rise, which raises fears that conflict may be renewed between Israel and Lebanon over the Jordan River tributaries.

Water stress is also one of the conflict issues between Israelis and Palestinians. “Palestinians already experience severe water hardship, with per capita availability well below WHO recommendations” said Nader Khatib, EcoPeace’s Palestinian Director. “The Palestinian economy is heavily dependent on rain fed agriculture, and decreased precipitation will further impoverish the Palestinian people”.

EcoPeace Middle East is launching a public campaign on the subject of climate change and water security, in cooperation with the US based organization National Environment Trust. For details and updates contact Zach Tagar on 057 7492201 or 035605383, ext. 7.