Press Release – 21 November 2007

Global Humanitarian Forum Addresses Humanitarian Impact of Climate Change
on the “Drylands”

DUBAI, 21 November 2007 – On 21 November 2007 in Dubai, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, a Board Member of the Global Humanitarian Forum and UN Messenger for Peace and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at the Columbia University, convened the first strategic meeting of the Global Humanitarian Forum on an urgent topic of global significance: “The Drylands Challenges.”

Launched on 17 October 2007 by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Global Humanitarian Forum was formed to foster dialogue and broker partnerships that will strengthen the international community’s capacity to tackle humanitarian challenges. Hardly any challenge is more daunting than the potential effects of climate change on regions already suffering from severe shortages of water, notably the world’s dryland regions.

25 leading experts from academia, UN organizations, financial institutions, foundations and corporations gathered in Dubai to identify and discuss the key challenges of the drylands of the African Sahel, the Middle East, and Central Asia – regions beset by rising water stress, environmental degradation, demographic pressures, and in many places, clear signs of severe long-term climate change already underway.

Informing the discussion was the recently released Synthesis Report of the Fourth Assessment Round of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. The IPCC report notes that man-made climate change may cause the yield from rain-fed agriculture in Africa to be reduced by up to 50% by 2020. The consequences of such a collapse of food yields would be devastating for low-income populations.

Because there is a lack of systematic information and analysis of the complex problems facing the drylands of Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, the Forum participants concluded that there is an urgent need for creating an over-arching effort to address the gaps in climate change adaptation for the drylands. They called for the creation of an expert network that would mobilize needed scientific data and analysis on climate change in the dryland regions, and that would support demonstration projects and advocate for needed large-scale implementation projects.

The Global Humanitarian Forum will act as a catalyst, bridge-builder, and advocate for climate change adaptation in the drylands of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. The participants in the meeting together with other invited international experts will establish the Drylands Advisory Group to the Global Humanitarian Forum, with the focus on climate change adaptation and development.

The global community is only now recognizing the enormity of the poverty-and-climate crisis in much of the drylands and the grave risks to peace and stability posed by the extreme poverty and climate stress in the region. The work of the Global Humanitarian Forum, through the Drylands Advisory Group on Climate Change and Development, will promote deeper understanding of the problems and possible solutions.

For further information, please contact

Global Humanitarian Forum-Geneva
Meinrad Studer, Director
Tel: +41 22 919 75 00

Office of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein
Jumana Abu-Hannoud, Chief of Staff
Tel: +971 4 329 2333
Fax: +971 4 329 2555
GSM: +971 50 450 6629

The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Joanna Rubinstein, Chief of Staff
Tel: +1 646 724 5267

Media contact:

Cécile Coutau
+41 (0) 79 500 35 05
+41 (0) 22 919 75 06

Speeches and presentations

Climate Change and the African Green Revolution
(pdf, 1.3 Mb)
Glenn Denning, Director, The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Centre East and Southern Africa; Associate Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Drylands Challenges, Opportunities and UNDP Drylands Development Center areas of support
(pdf, 3.1 Mb)
Mounkaila Goumandakoye, UNDP Drylands Development Center

Options for Water Management in the Drylands
(pdf, 4.2 Mb)
Johan Rockström, Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre & Stockholm Environment Institute

The role of water harvesting in transforming livelihood of rural households in moisture stress area: The Sasakawa Global 2000 Experience
(pdf, 5.8 Mb)
Aberra Debelo, Sasakawa Global 2000 Country Director, and Marco Quinones, Africa Program Director

Climate Change and the Future of Pastoralism
(pdf, 3.5 Mb)
Ahmed M. Mohamed, Matt Bonds, and Darby Jack, The Millennium Villages Project

Climate change and the drylands
(pdf, 720 Kb)
Alessandra Giannini, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, The Earth Institute, Columbia University