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NATO Assesses Regional Water and Food Security, Warns of Costs of Climate Change

Ahead of the G7 meeting held in Taormina, Italy, from 26-27 May 2017, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee issued a special report titled ‘Food and Water Security in the Middle East and North Africa,’ calling for increased international development support on water and food security in the region, including measures to stabilize availability and prices of imported food. ( IISD)

About the report:

In a region that has the lowest per capita availability of water and arable land, food and water security are paramount factors for regional stability. Home to 5% of the global population, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has access to only 1% of the world’s water supply. Nevertheless, it has the highest percentage of total water resources withdrawal in the world.

As highlighted during the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw and through the work of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, transatlantic security is deeply affected by the security situation in the MENA region.

The draft report identifies ways in which food and water shortages are intertwined with international security – humanitarian crises, migratory pressures, intra- and inter-state conflicts as well as food and water disputes. Moreover, the dire situation of food and water security in the MENA region is likely to worsen, due to demographics, climate change, as well as armed conflicts. 

A major finding of this report, however, is that the water crisis and subsequent food insecurity is mainly a crisis of governance and a consequence of resource mismanagement, rather than a crisis of access to resources.

The report examines adaptation and mitigation strategies undertaken by regional governments to contain the consequences of decades of resource mismanagement. Amongst these solutions, both supply-oriented and market-oriented solutions are identified, as well as investment in the agricultural sector and regional cooperation. A snapshot of steps to be taken by MENA countries to tackle their long-term challenges closes the report, underlining a necessary, but politically costly, trade-off between short-term benefits and long-term gains. (NATO)

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The Economics and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly released a report titled ‘Assessing and Mitigating the Cost of Climate Change,’ which explores economic costs and trade-offs associated with climate change, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

About the report:

The draft report explores some of the economic costs and trade-offs linked to climate change and climate change mitigation. It accepts the scientific community’s consensus both that global climate change is underway and that it poses compelling environmental, economic, social and security challenges. The report then surveys a range of studies exploring the potential costs climate change might exact on the global economy if the international community writ large fails to carry out its obligations as expressed in the Paris Agreement.

The report addresses several of the key features of the Paris Agreement and then describe some of the links between climate change and the economy. These include possible impacts on agriculture, the global trading system, coastal regions, health care, and labour markets.  The potential gains to be had from climate change mitigation are also considered including the creation of new technologies and job creating industries, for example.

The report touches as well on the idea of how carbon taxes might facilitate the shift to cleaner energy sources which is an essential prerequisite to reversing current warming trends. Finally, the report covers the potential for a US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the possible consequences.(NATO)