One year after Syria decided to join the Paris Climate Agreement, the country has established its climate commitments and is ready to join the Paris Agreement. Syria's First Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) was formally submitted on 30 November 2018 before the upcoming climate summit (COP24) in Katowice, Poland. At the Regional NDC Dialogue for Asia and the Arab States, we finally had the opportunity to talk with Maan Alabli from the Ministry of Local Administration and the Environment about Syria’s action on climate change.
Why did Syria decide to join the Paris Agreement on Climate Change? How does climate change impact your country and affect people’s lives and the economy?
As you have seen, in recent years, climate change has been affecting the whole world. In many parts of the world we see, for example, desertification, less precipitation and shrinking water resources. In Syria specifically, we have been experiencing quite severe effects from climate change in some areas, such as lack of water for irrigation and agriculture, and hotter seasons than before.
This is why many farmers consider migrating to the cities. This in turn affects the populations in the cities because they are rapidly growing and the resources in the cities will be not sufficient for all the people. Food security depends on agricultural output. There is lower food supply from agriculture and at the same time, in the cities, there is an increased demand for food with growing populations. In this way, climate change affects our society both in rural areas and the cities.
Syria is in the process of developing her climate commitment (NDC). Could you tell us a about the process?
We started preparing the INDC a few months ago as we started working with UNDP and other organizations that assist with the implementation of the climate commitments. We started by establishing a committee with stakeholders from all sectors and ministries in our country. This includes for example, the Ministry for Local Administration and Environment, Ministry for Electricity, Ministry of Agriculture, and Ministry of Industry. All these sectors and more have been cooperating on the development of the NDC. We have also been trying to build public awareness about the effects of climate change, why it is important to be involved in addressing the climate change, and how to prevent a worsening of climate change. Now, we are in the process of finalizing the draft of the NDC and we will submit it at the climate summit (COP24) in Poland this year.
What key sectors did Syria chose to select for its NDC?
The NDC covers three priority sectors - agriculture, infrastructure and energy. In each sector, the relevant ministries discuss the issues that are related to their sectors. We wanted to focus on resilient, low carbon infrastructure to rebuild the country, energy efficiency and renewable energy to reduce the greenhouse gasses, and agriculture because it is affected by climate change through desertification and lower water resources. We are in the process of finalizing the targets for each sector and we hope to complete the NDC for the COP.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Actually, you know, climate change is a global concern. So as for me and as for my government or my ministry, we wish to cooperate with all the countries and international bodies to help our country recover from the crisis that we have and address climate change. We are ready to gradually step up our cooperation to rebuild our country and to prevent climate change and, in the future, start implementing the climate commitments in our NDC.