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Climate finance regional briefing: Middle East and North Africa

Briefing/policy paper

Written by Charlene Watson, Sejal Patel

Briefing/policy paper

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are highly vulnerable to climate change, which is likely to compound persisting development challenges. The MENA region is already the most water scarce region in the world and has to import more than half of its food. The IPCC predicts that climate change will rapidly reduce precipitation in the region, and resulting hydrological changes could reduce water availability per person by 30-70% by 2025, diminish agricultural productivity, and also heighten the risk of flooding in highly populated urban coastal areas. 57% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 41% of proven natural gas resources are in the MENA region (although not distributed evenly among the region’s countries), and the exploitation of these fossil fuel resources is central to most of their economies.

The prospect of reducing the consumption of fossil fuels in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions therefore strikes the region’s oil-producing countries as a costly proposition that will rob them of economic opportunity. Lifestyles and consumption patterns within these countries are also highly carbon intensive, and per capita emissions in many MENA countries are 60% higher than the average among developing countries. At the same time, poverty rates remain high in many resource-poor MENA countries, such as Yemen and Djibouti, the region’s two Least Developed Countries (LDCs). 

This briefing explores what climate finance has been made available to countries within the MENA region, and to what extent this provision will meet countries' needs. 

Sejal Patel, Charlene Watson and Liane Schalatek