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Environmental challenges in the MENA region

This paper summarizes the core environmental challenges in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. It is an adapted and extended version of the Environmental Outlook for the West Asia Region, published following the conference “Environmental challenges in the MENA region: The long road from conflict to cooperation”.There are multiple understandings concerning which countries constitute the MENA region, with no standardized definition. For this study, it is assumed to include 21countries located in four sub-groups: the Mashreq region (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria), the Maghreb region (Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia), the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (Bahrein, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates), and a fourth cluster including Arab Least Developed Countries (Sudan, Yemen). The countries of Israel, Turkey and Iran generally stand separately, although Israel and Turkey are sometimes included in the Mashreq region. The MENA region already faces a wide array of environmental stresses that include water scarcity, arable land depletion, air pollution, inadequate waste management, loss of biodiversity, declining marine resources and degradation of coastal ecosystems. Future development scenarios are expected to exacerbate these challenges, especially given that MENA is one of the regions that is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change(IPCC, 2013).Rising temperatures, heightened rainfall variability and rising sea levels (Hungate and Koch 2015),in addition to increasing population and urban growth rates, will amplify environmental stresses.