6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where are we?

Progress has been made towards achieving the four MDG 7 targets that seek to reverse the loss of environmental resources, reduce biodiversity loss, improve access to water supply and sanitation services, and improve the lives of slum dwellers. Forests are not among the major natural assets of the Arab region but Arab countries with significant forested areas have sought to protect the limited area covered by forests in the region. Forest cover remained static or moderately increased in the region since 1990.

The contribution of the Arab region to total global GHG emissions is limited to about 4.7%, but there are considerable disparities in terms of total emissions and emissions per capita among Arab countries and the four sub-regions (GCC, Mashreq, Maghreb, LDCs) reflecting variation in energy access and use. The consumption of ozone depleting substances varies widely between the countries of the Arab region with a high of 1800 metric tons in Iraq but only 20 per cent or less than that figure in all except five of the other Arab region countries.

At least 15 countries are facing the threat of depletion of their renewable and non-renewable water resources. Some countries are well below the water poverty threshold of 1000 m3 per capita per year including Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, there is a serious shortage of fresh water in other countries including Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

Another major challenge facing the Arab region is the management of shared water resources among countries within and outside of the region. As more than 66 per cent of surface water resources originate from outside the Arab region, this issue remains a major concern threatening the region’s stability, food security, and water resources plans. The critical nature of the current water situation in the Arab region is expected to be further aggravated by the impacts of climate change.

The depletion of groundwater supplies in many Arab countries has resulted in the depletion of water springs and the dryness of wetlands and the loss of associated organisms reducing biodiversity. This loss has been accelerated due to habitat degradation and loss during the past three decades as a result of the high and unprecedented economic development activities in addition to the increase of population in most countries of the Arab region.

Across all countries, eight out of ten people now have access to improved water sources, but deficits remain in many places. Furthermore, there is a gap between access to potable water in urban and rural populations.

UNDP's work in Arab States


CO2 emissions (metric tons) for selected Arab countries (2006)

Sources: http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/.


Potential consumption of ozone depleting substances in metric tons (2007)

Source: http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/

Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums