- Workers that rely on the natural environment for their living are most vulnerable (e.g., farmers and fishermen)
- Low-income urban dwellers living in areas susceptible to respiratory-related diseases
There are many groups in Saudi Arabia that are becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change as a direct result of the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events occurring within the country. However, workers that rely heavily on the natural environment for their livelihood are the most vulnerable to the effects of global warming. Smallholder farmers and fishermen lack the resources and guidance needed to adapt to extreme and sudden changes in climate. In a warmer Middle East, crops are expected to require 10-13% more water because of changes in temperature and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, which puts a strain on already scarce water resources for these farmers. Unpredictable and extreme droughts and flooding also stand to put these farmers in a vulnerable position. Increased temperatures and acidity in nearby fisheries are also expected to deplete fish stock, affecting the livelihood of those small fishermen as well. If climate change is not addressed in an urgent manner, these workers risk losing their sole source of income and independence.
Saudi Arabia has been slow in setting up new or updating existing policies or programs to address or mitigate the impact of climate change challenges to vulnerable groups such as smallholder farmers, fishermen, and low-income urban dwellers living in areas susceptible to respiratory health-related diseases due to scorching temperatures and high frequency of sand and dust storms.
Saudi Arabia has a network of dams to capture flash flood water, and a network of desalination plants to convert seawater into freshwater, and recycles as much as 40% of its used water. Despite these measures, there is still a lack of concrete policies, a lack of involvement from all stakeholders, poor knowledge and skills of emergency preparedness and a lack response personnel to mitigate the impact of the flash floods and extreme drought disasters on those workers and low-income urban dwellers.
The Saudi government needs to collect data on the numbers of people affected; their geographical distribution, and social, cultural, and economic makeup to establish a baseline and regularly update the information to understand the type and size of problems arising from the effects of global warming. Once collected, the information can be used to devise a climate change mitigation plan to address the needs and concerns of these workers and dwellers of high-risk areas.
There are a few organizations that are fighting for Climate Justice in Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East. The Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) works with international organizations such as Climate Action Network (CAN) to solve climate change issues across the Middle East. The Saudi Environmental Society (SENS) has been established by the government as well to “improve the residents’ conditions in regions and provinces that suffer environmental problems by working on creating sustainable development programs.”
Contact Relevant Organizations
Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM)
E-mail : email@example.com
Saudi Environmental Society (SENS)
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Saudi Arabia Country Managers Abeer Abdulkareem and Amgad Ellaboudy