The countries of West Asia and North Africa (WANA) have long had the challenge of providing sustainable livelihoods for their populations in the fragile ecosystems of semi-arid and arid areas facing the challenging issues of absolute water scarcity, drought, land degradation and desertification. In addition to these, the region also has to deal with other issues including a significant increase in population, poverty, a geo-politically fragile environment, gender imbalance, weak investment in agricultural research and constraints in human resources and institutional capacities.
Climate change is already a reality in WANA and it places additional constraints on the already fragile ecosystems of dry areas and limited natural resources in WANA. There is evidence of the global decline in food production; and the developing countries in WANA will be hit the hardest. FAO’s report on State of Food Insecurity in the World (2010) estimates that a total of 37 million people are undernourished in the Near East and North Africa; and climate change may further aggravate the food insecurity situation in the region. Hence there is an urgency to develop, and strengthen further, research and technology transfer on adaptation, mitigation and production system resilience.
The Fourth Assessment Report of the WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (lPCC) released in 2007, suggested several adaptation strategies to deal with projected climatic changes which include, changing crop varieties; enhancing more efficient water use; appropriate scheduling of cropping activities; adoption of more effective pest, disease and weed management practices and insurance; and making better use of seasonal climate forecasts to reduce production risks. A comprehensive and integrated approach to planning and implementing the climate change adaptation strategies across the wide range of agroecosystems in different countries in WANA could help both the planners and the local communities to deal effectively with the projected impacts and also contribute to mitigation of climate change.
It is with this background that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa (AARINENA), the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), ICARDA, Ohio State University, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) and the Meteorological Department of the State of Kuwait are organizing the International Workshop on Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture in West Asia and North Africa in Kuwait City, Kuwait, from 13 to 16 November 2011. AARINENA acknowledges the contribution and support of the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the European Union (EU) to the Conference.