Sustainable Mountain Development in the Middle East and North Africa. From Rio 1992 to Rio 2012 and beyond
This report is presented in three parts: the first sets up the stage for the discourse on MENA Mountains, the second provides an evaluation of sustainable mountain development discussing progress, changes and lessons learnt, and the third addresses challenges to green economy and issues relevant to Rio +20 in the MENA region.
The MENA region is defined and this report covers 19 countries that are commonly accepted as MENA members. Of these, three do not have significant mountain systems and of the remaining 16, only seven have enough data warranting detailed discussion. Highlights only have been compiled for the rest as an annex. Major mountain ranges in the MENA region have been identified and the major themes relevant to the MENA Mountains are recognized. The institutions and governance supporting sustainable mountain development have been noted and the absence of a central hub to foster partnerships within the MENA region has been indicated.
Key issues in the MENA Mountain region are climate, water resources, wildlife and biodiversity, agriculture, livestock and land use, and tourism. Others include specific issues like the establishment of biosphere reserves, special programs like that of Global Diversity Foundation (GDF), terrorism, cannabis cultivation, disasters, natural hazards and disaster risk reduction (DRR) and socio-economic and political issues. The discussion of each issue includes information known from specific MENA countries. For example, the issue of water resources includes management of water resources in Morocco, water stress in Lebanon, overexploitation of groundwater in Oman, revitalisation of traditional water harvesting in Iran, water scarcity in Yemen and the famous water conflict of Palestine and Israel.
Evaluation of sustainable mountain development in the whole MENA region is an extremely difficult task. However, it is possible to attempt a discussion on the basis of what had happened in the MENA countries over the past over 20 years assuming that mountains are firmly embedded in the systems and are subject to impacts both positive and negative, affecting the countries as a whole. The ten themes considered are (1) the effects of oil boom economy; (2) technological development; (3) improvement in road networks; (4) political changes; (5) climate change and natural disasters; (6) epidemics; (7) impacts and threats on biodiversity; (8) expanding tourism; (9) mining activities, and (10) monitoring and research.
MENA mountain issues relevant to Rio +20 are qualitatively analysed. Eight issues identified in this report as priority are: (1) climate, (2) water resources (3) wildlife and biodiversity (4) agriculture and land use, (5) land degradation, (6) mining, (7) energy and (8) tourism. MENA countries do not have a forum or mountain partnership network to share experiences and lessons learned from tackling various issues in their respective countries. The need for the establishment of a MENA Mountain Partnership Network is called for.Download file