Doha: The World Bank today warned that the Arab region is increasingly facing extreme weather events as a matter of norm and the speed of climate change is outstripping coping mechanisms threatening basic pillars of development.
A report released at a time when the Qatar is hosting the UN climate change conference where nations are wrangling to achieve greater emission reduction targets, the World Bank said the water scarce Arab region is and will experience rising temperatures and less rainfall as a direct consequence of global warming.
Contending that consequences of climate change may turn out to be especially acute for the Arab world, the report said climate change will not only challenge the status quo, "it will threaten the basic pillars of development".
"The climate of Arab countries will experience unprecedented extremes," warned the report.
"Temperatures will continue to reach record highs, and in many places there will be less rainfall. Water availability will be reduced, and with a growing population the already water-scarce region may not have sufficient supplies to irrigate crops, support industry, and provide drinking water," it said.
In many cases, it said the climate was changing at a pace that outstrips coping mechanisms, having far reaching impacts.
The year 2010 was globally the warmest since records began in the late 1800s, with 19 countries setting new national temperature highs.
Five of these, the report said were Arab countries, including Kuwait, which set a new record at 52.6 Celsius in 2010, only to be followed by 53.5 Celsius in 2011.
The report - Adaptation to a Changing Climate in the Arab Countries - says that extreme weather events are the new norm for the region.
It said while the region has been adapting to changes in rainfall and temperature for thousands of years, the speed with which the climate is now changing has, in many cases, will make it difficult to cope and adapt.
"Climate change is a reality for people in Arab countries," said Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa region.
"It affects everyone, especially the poor who are least able to adapt, and as the climate becomes ever more extreme, so will its impacts on people`s livelihoods and wellbeing.
"The time to take action at both the national and regional level in order to increase climate resilience is now".
"Reducing vulnerability to climate change will require concerted action on multiple levels," said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, who launched the report today at the UN Climate Conference in Doha, Qatar.