The West Asia region, particularly the Arab Gulf States, holds an overwhelming majority of the world’s collective energy resources (whether oil, solar or natural gas resources). The responsibility of protecting human health and the environment and conserving precious, non-renewable resources while satisfying the global appetite for energy is a collective one, but one in which the region has an important role to play. ROWA is therefore working with key partners (CAMRE, OAPEC) in the region on a number of initiatives, providing technical and policy guidance as well as capacity building:
Within the West Asia region, ROWA is providing technical and policy guidance to the development of the Arab Framework of Action on Climate Change as requested by the League of Arab states and is also leading the Thematic Working Group on Climate Change in the Arab Region as part of the Regional Coordination Mechanism of the UN Agencies in the region. This will work towards the development at programmes and projects to address the identified priorities in the region in the terms of provision of basic capacity building support, climate proofing of infrastructures, the need for more investment flows to build resilience and to have meaningful economic opportunities in the mitigation side of climate change.
Climate change in mountains
The International Conference “Mountains as early indicators of climate change" took place in April 2008 in Padova, Italy and was organized by UNEP, the Ev-K2-CNR Committee of Italy, and the Padova University, with the collaboration of the European Academy (EURAC) and the support of local authorities. Its objective was to discuss the impact of climate change on mountain ecosystems and the role of mountains as indicators of climate change. The conference called for a systematic environmental monitoring of fragile mountain regions and the systematic consideration of mountain concerns in national adaptation strategies of involved countries. In order to meet this challenge, UNEP will provide sound science and policy advice through an improved network of high altitude monitoring stations on climate change and sustainable mountain development. Furthermore, in the European region, UNEP is supporting the Southeast European (SEE) Climate Change Framework Action Plan for Adaptation, launched by five ministers (from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) on 11 November 2008 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus making a concrete commitment to regional cooperation in combating climate change impact and supporting development and implementation of the regional adaptation strategy for the Balkans.
Asia and the Pacific
Strengthening Philippines’ Institutional Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change
UNEP is one of the main executing agencies of the MDG Achievement Fund’s Joint Programme, “Strengthening the Philippines’ Institutional Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change”, 2008 to 2011. The programme brings together UN agencies working on environmental sustainability and adaptation to climate change in the Philippines.
The programme aims to mainstream climate risk reduction into key national, and selected local development plans and processes; enhance national and local capacity to develop, manage and administer plans, programmes and projects addressing climate change risks; and improve coping mechanisms through pilot demonstration adaptation projects.
Participating UN agencies are working together on inter-agency planning and management systems with national and local partners. In 2008, the Joint Programme was approved in by the National Steering Committee. At the inception workshop in September 2008, the programme management arrangements, flow of funds, and reporting structure for both technical and financial matters were redefined, and the Annual Work Plan for the first year was consolidated.
In addition to the technical support, UNEP will be providing additional human resources to support UNEP initiatives in the Philippines. The recruitment of a UNEP National Officer who will function as representative of respective UNEP Divisions and projects and contribute to the operational functioning of UNEP initiatives in the Philippines is in process.
Atmospheric Brown Cloud
Between 1995 and 1999, an international group of more than 250 scientists collected data over the Indian Ocean as part of Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX). INDOEX discovered a layer of brownish haze of air pollution extending as high as three kilometers hovering over most of the Indian Ocean, South and Southeast Asia during the dry season.
Air pollution containing aerosol particles emitted from anthropogenic sources such as fossil fuel and bio-fuel combustion and natural sources like biomass burning and associated long-range transport, leads to widespread layers of brownish haze, referred to as Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABC).
The pollution haze occurs frequently in all other heavily inhabited regions and downwind. It is a trans-boundary, trans-continental and trans-oceanic phenomenon.
Tunisia - Programme Solaire (PROSOL)
The domestic solar water heater market in Tunisia has undergone a radical transformation. After introduction of the PROSOL initiative in 2005, sales soared from 8,000 m² in 2004 to the record level of 73,800 m² for the period January to October 2008.
Since the project began, a total of 57,000 households have been equipped (the equivalent of 176,000 m²), totaling investments of 35.5 million USD from local banks and avoiding 481,000 tons of CO².
PROSOL’s positive results helped convince the government to change its energy subsidy framework and enact legislation aimed at shifting the country towards solar water heaters and away from water heating with Liquid Petroleum Gas. The project is currently being replicated in the Balkans.
Latin America and the Carribena
UNEP implements programmes and projects focusing i. a. on adaptation and mitigation measures to climate change, reducing vulnerability to climate change and aiming at strategy development, strengthening local capacities and increasing access to financial support through payment for ecosystem services (Mexico, Panama). Furthermore, emphasis is put on the management of environmental resources to minimize vulnerabilities to climate change (Andean Microbasins, Peru) and on the administration and provision of environmental services which includes micro watershed management, sanitation and water access improvement (Nicaragua). Other areas of UNEP engagement include: sustainable forest management (ensuring biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management in the forest ecosystem of the transboundary Gran Chaco Americano); assessment (promoting conservation of tropical forests and integrated environmental assessment for MERCOSUR countries – GEO MERCOSUR); phasing-out of ozone depleting substances.
In addition, the GEF Medium Size Programme in Argentina comprises seven medium-sized projects with the objective to test the effectiveness of a pilot initiative to implement a Grant Programme at in-country level. One of these sub-projects - Glaciological Studies for the Planning of Water Uses in Climate Change Scenarios - has the objective of improving the knowledge on the dynamics of glaciers in response to climatic variables and their contributions to the current runoff, so as to shape their future with regard to potential climate change scenarios, in order to implement measures in the planning of water resources as a way of adapting to changes in the hydrologic regime. In order to achieve this objective with aims to better understand the response of glaciers to climate variability a new measurement instrument has been installed in two pilot glaciers in the province of Tierra del Fuego, and frequent glaciological campaigns have been taking place. The most vulnerable basins have been identified and climate change scenarios have been selected. Furthermore, simulations will be carried out based on the glacial response and information obtained in this phase of the project as well as on pre-existing data.