Spotlight Activity: Climate Change’s Effect On Saudi Arabia’s Economically-disadvantaged Population
There is no data on the exact numbers and/or detailed description of the demographic composition of groups affected by climate change in Saudi Arabia. There is only a description of the geographical areas that will be affected by climate change and the types of effects of climate change on these areas in the Kingdom. A report by the Arab Forum for Environment & Development identifies that agriculture is expected to suffer in the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia in particular, because of climate change. By 2100, field and vegetable crops are expected to require 10-13% more water because of changes in temperature and carbon dioxide levels across the region. This additional stress on water resources in a region that is already parched for water will decrease the productivity of smallholder farmers, pushing them further into poverty or forcing them to find other livelihoods. The occurrence of extreme weather events, such as the 2009 Jeddah flood, are also predicted to increase in a warmer world. The IPCC report states that populations with already poor sanitation infrastructure and high burdens of infectious disease often experience increased rates of diarrheal diseases after flood events. Therefore, it is evident that public health is also a major concern for Saudi Arabia’s poor populations. A study conducted by The University of British Columbia in Canada also notes that the Arabian Gulf is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with a high rate of local extinction of marine species (up to 35%) expected by 2090 relative to 2010. This puts a high stress on economically-disadvantaged fishermen on Saudi Arabia’s Eastern coast.
Status: Right Direction
The reports on the scale and magnitude of the impact of climate change on the population of the coastal and central areas of Saudi Arabia are alarming. Saudi Arabia has taken some steps to address the challenge of rising sea level and stress on water resources by initiating studies to assess infrastructure vulnerability, reducing the cultivation of high-water consuming crops, and investing in farm lands in Africa, and North and Latin America to ensure food security. However, there is still a need to collect data on the numbers of people affected; their demographic, social, cultural, and economic makeup to devise mitigation and adaptation plans that address the specific needs of these people.
We encourage the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture, to conduct a national survey and collect data on the number of people affected by climate change, according to their demographic, social, cultural, and economic composition, and the specific ways in which they are affected or will be affected so that the government can better understand their specific needs and concerns and devise plans to address these issues.
Send Action Alert Message to:
Abdurrahman Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadli
Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture
Toll Free 800 247 2220