West Asia also faces increasing pressures on its biodiversity. Infrastructure
expands in all scenarios (see chart below), destroying and fragmenting
the region's ecosystems. These pressures lead to steady decline in populations
of wild species, a growing list of threatened species and an overall and
continual loss of biodiversity. These trends are counteracted to some
degree in Policy First and Sustainability First circumstances
by implementing land use management plans to reduce human pressures on
natural ecosystems. Other counter measures include legislation protecting
biodiversity and endangered species as well as regulating the introduction
of foreign and genetically modified organisms. Only slower economic growth
in Security First keeps the expansion of infrastructure and its
impacts below that of Markets First.
Other problems, particularly climate change, join with these pressures
to diminish natural capital in the region in all scenarios. In Policy
First, present efforts to enlarge protected areas continue and may
reach international targets. In addition, regional cooperation and transboundary
reserves are established between neighbouring countries. Public awareness
is stimulated through botanical gardens and museums. These efforts go
further in Sustainability First where there is greater local control
of resources. The extent of protected areas reaches target levels, halting
depletion of biological resources. Furthermore, the region witnesses an
increase in cooperative regional research, investment and sustainable
use of genetic and biological resources through the use of advanced technology.
However, even here the efforts are not enough to fully counteract the
effects of changing climate (see chart).
|Land area impacted by infrastructure
expansion: West Asia (% of total land area)
Source: GLOBIO (see technical
|Natural Capital Index: West Asia
An index of 100 is the situation when
total land area is undomesticated and all pressures are below
the minimum threshold (see technical annex).
Reduction in the Natural Capital Index indicates habitat loss
and increasing pressure on terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity.
Biodiversity is severely impacted between 2002 and 2032 in
all scenarios, but especially under Security First.
Source: IMAGE 2.2 (see technical
The somewhat slower onset of climate change in Markets First means
that the losses to natural capital are somewhat less than in Policy
First and Security First. In Security First, the introduction
of foreign and genetically modified species carries on unregulated, posing
a major additional threat to indigenous species in the region. Moreover,
efforts already under way become increasingly ineffective under declining
economic and environmental conditions and food insecurity. Significantly,
many indigenous biological resources in the region could be completely
|Key to charts
|Energy-related nitrogen oxide emissions:
West Asia (million tonnes nitrogen)
|Source: IMAGE 2.2 (see technical
Differences in population growth, urban planning
and zoning, rural area development and the situation of refugees all influence
the level, type and impact of urbanization across the region. Rapid unplanned
urbanization and high population concentrations caused by rapid population
growth, rural to urban migration and the increase in refugee numbers are
factors in both Markets First and Security First. All have
negative environmental and health consequences in terms of local air pollution
(see chart), add to waste production and encourage encroachment on limited
agricultural and recreational areas. Basic healthcare, sanitation and
infrastructure facilities fail to cope.
More effective urban planning and zoning prevail in Policy First and
Sustainability First scenarios. Rural to urban migration is reduced
conspicuously by well-planned integrated development of rural areas. In
Sustainability First, rural area development includes environmental
considerations to minimize encroachment and loss of agricultural and recreational
lands, stimulating some reverse migration. Finally, in the Mashriq, the
environmental and health problems associated with refugee centres are
solved as part of the resolution of conflicts in the region.
Associated with the differences in land use and freshwater management,
as well as other developments, the scenarios also differ in their implications
for coastal and marine areas. Under the Policy First and Sustainability
First scenarios, member states in the Arabian Gulf ratify the Convention
for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) 73/78 and other
established protocols, establish waste oil reception facilities and declare
the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment
(ROPME) Sea Area a Special Area, which reduces oil pollution significantly.
The Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment
from Land-Based Activities is strictly implemented, controlling and significantly
reducing sewage releases into the sea.
|Population living with hunger: West
Asia (million persons)
All the pie charts show total region
impacts. The top left pie shows the current situation, the
relative size of the others reflects the magnitude of impacts
by 2032 under the four scenarios. Average incomes rise in
all regions, contributing to a drop in the percentage of the
population that is hungry, but in Markets First and
Security First, the benefits of growth are not enough
to offset the growth in population and the total number of
people affected by food shortages.
Source: PoleStar (see technical
|Population living with hunger: West
|Source: PoleStar (see technical
|Key to charts
These environmental trends, along with more broadly distributed economic
growth and effective social policies, are reflected in the incidence of
hunger in the region (see charts above). In both Markets First and
Security First, the levels of hunger are still near 10 per cent
in 2032. In the Markets First scenario, relatively high inequality
persists, limiting the improvements that can be achieved from economic
growth. In the Security First scenario, divergent income distributions
worsen the situation even more. Combined with the population growth, the
numbers of persons experiencing hunger increase by half in Markets
First and approximately double in Security First. In Policy
First and Sustainability First, a combination of relatively
high economic growth and comparatively equitable income distributions
leads to a sharp drop in the percentage hungry, as well as in the total.
|Imagine ... a major seven-year drought in
An extended drought occurs, starting late in the first decade of
the century. A significant drop in groundwater resources has affected
major aquifers in the region since the mid-1990s. Growing scarcity
of irrigation and clean drinking water in the Mashriq sub-region
leads to more dependency on food imports in the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) countries and proliferation of hunger and poverty
in Mashriq countries and Yemen. As approximately 60 per cent of
surface water resources in the region originate from outside, the
potential exists for disagreements to escalate between countries
over shared and depleted water resources.
In the case of ...
- Water resources policies focusing almost exclusively on 'supply
augmentation' prove unwise in this drought-prone region. There
is some movement towards demand management but this is not implemented
quickly enough to avert major water shortages.
- There is mass dependency on desalination facilities in GCC countries.
- Cash crops in irrigated areas are halved, resulting in major
deficits in locally grown food.
- New, genetically engineered, more drought-tolerant crops are
- Water-related health problems proliferate.
- Sweeping institutional reforms strengthen authorities in charge
of water resources management.
- An existing policy focus on demand management, conservation
and protection makes it relatively easy to introduce prompt additional
measures that help eke out water supplies while drought conditions
- Remedial instruments and programmes are introduced, including
water pricing mechanisms, awareness and education campaigns, legislation
to strengthen powers of enforcement, measures to boost the management
of marginal waters, and codes to enable efficient water resources
allocation among competing economic sectors.
- Economic integration and regional cooperation help modify agricultural
policies in the Arabian Peninsula and reduce water consumption
in the agricultural sector.
- Temporary agreements deal with the problems of shared water
resources and help enhance regional stability.
- Competition and conflicts between sectors and users increase,
leading to social unrest.
- There are widespread signs of increase in the rate of desertification
and deterioration of biological resources combined with extinction
of some species due to over-hunting and habitat destruction.
- Water-related health problems proliferate.
- Political instability and conflicts in the region mount, leading
to open war over water resources, threatening regional and international
- Strategic regional water resource and river basin management
planning reduce impacts of drought, in turn enhancing the efficiency
of water use, resource protection and water resources augmentation.
- Major institutional reforms further consolidate the authority
of water resources management bodies. Previous policy shifts in
favour of 'demand management and conservation' ease the way for
additional measures to eke out water supplies.
- More freshwater is made available by desalination technology
in the GCC countries, increasingly using alternative and renewable
energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to run desalination
- There is widespread application of biotechnology to crop production,
to boost drought resistance and yields.
- More equitable sharing of surface and groundwater resources
is achieved as riparian countries sign and ratify treaties to
that effect. This process is helped by the resolution of the Arab-Israeli
Developments not directly related to the environment, such as improvements
in regional cooperation, can have a major impact on environmental
issues. Similarly, the ways in which one environmental issue is
tackled can have significant impacts on others, for instance the
choice of renewable energy sources to power desalinization works
reduces fossil-fuel burning. Experience and adoption of a mixed
set of policy instruments allows greater flexibility to react swiftly
in times of unexpected and increased environmental stress.