While economic and social indicators in many Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries have improved over the last three decades, the region’s blue natural assets — clean air, healthy seas and coastlines — have degraded virtually everywhere. Air pollution levels in the region’s cities are among the highest in the world as is marine plastic pollution and coastlines are fast eroding. These combined challenges threaten local communities, livelihoods and economies.
The report, Blue Skies, Blue Seas: Air Pollution, Marine Plastics and Coastal Erosion in the Middle East and North Africa, focuses on the impact of this degradation, estimating that the economic cost of MENA’s deteriorating skies and seas is more than 3% of GDP per year in some countries. The report offers policy recommendations and solutions for governments to reverse the threat to this vital natural capital, including:
- Informing stakeholders about the sources of these challenges.
- Providing incentives that improve environmental outcomes for the public and the private sector.
- Strengthening institutions to lower air and plastic pollution and to mitigate uncontrolled development and erosion on coastlines.
- Investing in abatement options and promote sustainable solutions.
Restoring MENA’s blue skies and seas will benefit the health, livelihoods and incomes of residents. There will inevitably be trade-offs but choosing a path of green growth will create jobs, diversify economies — and make the region a better place for current and future generations.