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Climate Change Impacts on Forest and Rangeland Ecosystems in the Middle East and North Africa


Large parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are covered with drylands. This harsh environment may have limited water resources, but it still supports fragile ecosystems, which are vulnerable to the far reaching impacts climate change, including desertification and deforestation, and their associated impacts on food, security and extreme poverty. The 2014 Turn Down the Heat report describes the multifaceted role of climate change on desertification, but also notes the lack of regional studies on the dynamics of climate change, social influences, and desertification. This activity will help to fill this knowledge gap.


This activity aims to raise awareness among policy-makers about the impact of climate change on forest and rangeland ecosystems and users in the MENA Region. This objective will be achieved by developing policy notes to inform senior decision-makers, project coordinators, and media about the inter-linkages between climate change and deforestation, and the expected magnitude of the climate change impacts on these dry ecosystems. The notes will also provide policy advice on how to best manage forest cover in MENA’s arid environments.


A knowledge review assessed current understanding of the impacts of climate change on desert ecosystems, the vulnerability and resilience of resource users to climate change, and potential knowledge gaps. These findings were shared at through meetings and conferences with 400 representatives of participating countries in the lead up to UNFCCC COP-22 in Marrakech in 2016, and country and regional policy notes and briefs. The disseminated policy notes were intended not only to improve the awareness of policy makers about the impact of climate change (which is the main objective of the project), but also to better involve and sensitize different national stakeholders in the debates. 

A key findings from this work is that policy makers tend to favor investment in more developed regions because they are not adequately informed about the strengths and potentials of arid and semiarid ecosystems, thus perpetuating regional disparities. Awareness-raising and capacity-building initiatives should consistently target key policy and decision makers and provide them with concise and comprehensive analyses. In addition, innovative forms of partnership, networking, and cooperation should be supported between development practitioners and policy makers, both at national and subregional levels. For example, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and users/producers associations should systematically be invited to participate in consultations between ministerial departments and financial/technical partners.

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Last Updated : 04-11-2018