Improving the efficiency of water use can offset the effects of natural change, for example in Iraq, with potential losses in GDP shrinking with every 10 to 20 percent increase in this efficiency. Agriculture continues to represent the cornerstone of economic activity in the Middle East and North Africa region, where a large proportion of the workforce works, and it also represents a vital source of job opportunities and income, especially in rural areas. While it is essential to reduce freshwater consumption, climate action across the water-energy-agriculture nexus can have a profound positive social and economic impact. In the West Bank, access to land and water resources, especially in the fertile Jordan Valley, is key to driving economic growth through agriculture. Likewise, agriculture in Iraq plays a pivotal role in diversifying economic activity away from heavy dependence on oil exports. Protecting farmers requires changing cropping patterns, adopting drought-tolerant crops, encouraging high-value crops, improving irrigation techniques, and adopting nature-based solutions.
Regarding one year of transforming the recommendations of the country development reports into actual actions, the World Bank has so far mobilized about $800 million to provide direct support for the implementation of the recommendations of the country reports on climate and development that address water scarcity. Our interventions guided by these reports in Morocco ($350 million), Jordan ($250 million) and Lebanon ($200 million) respond directly to known and emerging climate-related challenges examined in these reports.
The three projects referred to above address critical needs for adaptation and resilience, with interventions specifically aimed at strengthening water governance and associated institutions, improving the financial sustainability of the water sector, and supporting agriculture that is sensitive to natural and environmental conditions, particularly in enhancing irrigation efficiency and productivity, and expanding the use of Renewable energy to support the expansion of wastewater treatment and reuse.
The Middle East and North Africa region is going through a pivotal moment in its climate journey, and country reports on climate and development in the region confirm two basic messages: the necessity of building resilience in vital sectors, such as water, agriculture, and urban development, while protecting vulnerable local communities, and the necessity of implementing Pathways to reduce carbon emissions that are consistent with the requirements of economic growth and take into account the constraints facing public finances.
These reports have been effective in identifying challenges and opportunities in the region, and providing evidence-based solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. Addressing the problem of water scarcity, embracing the interrelationship between water, energy and food, and protecting agriculture represent pivotal steps towards achieving a sustainable and resilient future. By turning the recommendations contained in country reports on climate and development into action, countries in the region are taking the decisive steps needed to pave the way towards achieving resilience in the face of environmental and natural change, and achieving economic growth in the face of increasing challenges.
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