UNDP Highlights Arab Region’s Development Challenges

19 January 2011: Speaking at the Second Arab Economic, Social and Developmental Summit, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Helen Clark, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, noted that the Third Arab Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Impact of the Global Economic Crisis highlights the most pressing development challenges of the region, including high unemployment rates and climate change.

The report, a joint publication by UNDP with the League of Arab States, and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), is a background document for the Summit. Clark emphasized that climate change poses a significant challenge to development for the Arab region, it being the most water-scarce region in the world. She stressed that climate variability exacerbates droughts, reduces agricultural production, and increases food insecurity. In order to address poverty and food insecurity, she called on countries to invest in employment-intensive and inclusive growth strategies, and to increase regional cooperation and integration. She also noted that many development challenges, such as migration and water resource management, require cross-boundary solutions. Clark indicated that UNDP's collaboration with the League of Arab States covers a broad range of issues, including water governance and climate change efforts, HIV/AIDS, anti-corruption and boosting trade measures. [UNDP Press Release]