Cairo, Egypt -- 20 October 2021 – UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Arab States together with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (UN ESCWA) and UNICEF launched a regional project today aimed at increasing the capacity of displaced persons and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon to deal with water scarcity brought on by climate change.

The project, which is funded by the Adaptation Fund at a value of nearly USD 14 million, will run for four years and is implemented in partnership with the Governments of Jordan and Lebanon through their Ministries of Environment as well as other national ministries, local authorities, civil society and the private sector in target areas.

The project is unique in that it aims to solve a cross-border problem by using innovative techniques for water harvesting, reusing treated wastewater and permaculture and efficient irrigation while focusing on marginalised and vulnerable communities.

The Arab region is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world to the negative effects of climate change and is now considered the planet’s most water-scarce region. By 2030, the effects of climate change are expected to reduce renewable water resources by another 20 per cent due to declining precipitation, rising temperature, as well as over-extraction and pollution of groundwater.

At the same time, the region is home to the world’s largest population of refugees and displaced people, with Lebanon and Jordan ranked as the largest and second largest refugee-hosting countries in comparison to national population. Rapid urbanization and population growth are adding strain on dwindling natural resources, with over 75 per cent of the Arab population expected to live in urban areas by 2050.

Erfan Ali, Regional Representative of UN-Habitat in the Arab Region, recognising the dangerous conversion of urbanization and climate change, especially on vulnerable communities, said, “UN-Habitat works to support cities and urban areas to adapt by building resilience and reducing the impact of climate change, creating new economic opportunities and improving the ability to live in safe and just environments.”

Munir Tabet, Deputy Executive Secretary at ESCWA stressed the message of the UN Secretary General stating that “We need to take bolder steps to confront the challenge of climate change and focus on the importance of resilience and adaptation - what the Secretary-General called the forgotten half of the climate change equation without which we have no hope of achieving our common climate goals.”