The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is highly vulnerable to climate change, even though its greenhouse gas emissions are relatively small. The region has the world’s worst water scarcity, a reliance on climate-sensitive agriculture, people and economic activity concentrated in coastal zones, and conflict-ridden areas where pressure on resources could escalate violence and political turmoil.
The region’s emissions of greenhouse gases per capita are comparatively small, at 4.5 percent of the world’s total in 2000. The growth of carbon emissions from fuel combustion is, however, the world’s third largest, and emissions grew more than three times faster than the global average between 1990 and 2004. Most emissions originate in oil-producing countries, which account for 74 percent of the region’s total.
The region’s vulnerability to climate change is severe. Temperatures will rise up to 2 degrees in the next 15-20 years and over 4 degrees by the end of the century, while runoff will decrease by 20 to 30 percent in most of the region. The combination of higher temperatures and less precipitation has already increased the frequency of droughts, from one event every 10 years at the beginning of the 20th century to five or six events each decade now. Over three-quarters of the region’s water resources are being withdrawn for human use, and climate change will require more stringent adjustments of water resource management here than in any other region. Sea level rise will have severe impacts on ports and other coastal infrastructure.
The Bank’s strategic  approach addresses climate-induced challenges in the region by:
- promoting policies and investments for better water management and agricultural diversification
- increasing support for developing energy efficiency and renewable energy resources and for power sector reform
- developing new analytical services to better evaluate the magnitude and distribution of climate impact
- lending in support of technologies for both mitigation and adaptation
- promoting innovative mechanisms to spread climate risks through, for example, insurance
The Bank will be selective, concentrating on interventions expected to have large benefits and to achieve rapid institutional reform that increases the climate resilience of vulnerable sectors, as well as on pilot projects with the potential to be scaled up quickly or transferred broadly. Mitigation efforts will focus on the energy sector, which generates 85 percent of greenhouse gases.
The World Bank is supporting studies as well as projects to enhance the region’s resilience to the impacts of climate change in the key sectors. Examples include: development of localized climate scenarios for the MENA region ; climate vulnerability assessment in Djibouti ; integrated ecosystem management in Jordan ; evaluation of climate change impacts on water and agriculture in Morocco  and Yemen  and on oak forest ecosystem in Tunisia ; and adaptation to climate change using agro-biodiversity resources in the rainfed highlands of Yemen.
On mitigation, the Bank is promoting, with support from the Clean Technology Fund , a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of the energy and transport sectors in Egypt  and Tunisia. We are also helping develop the region’s huge potential in renewable energy resources.
The World Bank is actively helping the region’s countries explore Clean Development Mechanism opportunities. With 11 carbon offset projects, including four signed emission reductions purchase agreements, the Bank is facilitating emissions reduction efforts and contributing to low carbon development in the region. We are also helping seven countries enhance their capacity to engage in carbon finance . These technical assistance programs can help scale up carbon finance across sectors and increase its impact on economic development.