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UNDP, ESCWA and League of Arab States Launch Arab MDG Report 2010

December 2010: The UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the League of Arab States have launched the "Third Arab Report on the Millennium Development Goals 2010 and the Impact of the Economic Crisis." 

The report details where the Arab region stands in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, and highlights six priorities for policies and actions that should be undertaken to enable the region to move forward. These priorities include: food security; poverty reduction; adaptation to climate change; youth employment and decent work; and gender equality. With regards to environmental issues, the report indicates that while the Arab region as a whole only contributes about 5% of the global carbon dioxide emissions, the impacts of climate change on the region are of major concern to policy makers due to its dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture, as well as the concentration of population and economic activity in flood-prone urban coastal zones. The report notes that environmental degradation and climate change accompanied by the rapid population growth and imbalanced geographical distribution influenced by rural-urban migration in most countries of the region negatively impacted the social and economic conditions. It further underscores that climate-induced resource scarcity in conflict-prone areas could escalate violence and political instability.

On water scarcity, the report highlights that climate change will further aggravate this current challenge in the Arab region. It provides that the decline in groundwater supplies in many Arab countries is leading to the depletion of water springs, dryness of wetlands, and the loss of associated organisms reducing biodiversity. It is estimated that at least 15 countries are facing the threat of depletion of their renewable and non-renewable water resources. Overgrazing, unsustainable use of water resources and land, as well as the commercial use of biodiversity resources are common factors.  The report estimates that these environmental changes will affect food production systems, contributing to increased hunger and migration, as well as to the incidence of diseases such as malaria. [Third Arab MDG Report]