Agroforestry and Food Chain

In view of the outmost significance of agricultural production on national economies, numerous research projects have been carried-out on estimates of climate change impacts on agriculture since 1990s. Most of the results of global and regional surveys indicate that the Mediterranean basin will be mostly affected by climate change.

Climate change is already threatening food security in the EMME region, and future models and scenarios predict even more unfavourable climatic conditions for food production for the rest of the century. Irrespective of the cropping system, crops, livestock and aquaculture are expected to be affected by the more intense heat waves, the higher average temperatures, the more intense and frequent droughts. The increase of temperature and the increased variability in annual rainfall is expected to increase the region’s aridity, exacerbating the already low productivity of agricultural ecosystems and the above and below-ground biodiversity. Loss of biodiversity from managed and unmanaged ecosystems will negatively affect the ecosystem services with immeasurable repercussions for the region.

Food production systems including agriculture, livestock as well as fisheries are important components of the economic activity of the EMME countries. The contribution of the primary production sector to GDP decreased dramatically in all countries since 1990, and today this corresponds to 3.06% with huge disparities between countries. Agricultural production has been identified as the economic activity most sensitive to climate change impacts in some countries of the eastern Mediterranean; despite this alarming forecast detailed studies are absent for many countries of the region, creating uncertainty and obstacles concerning the adaptation and mitigation measures needed.

The report of the TF estimates in quantitative terms the impacts of climate change on food production systems among the participating countries under different GHG – emission scenarios (based on the projections of regional climatic models), identifies the existing gaps in knowledge concerning our understanding of the climate change impacts on crop, animal, and fish production systems with special emphasis on the most vulnerable system components and the relevant natural resources, and prepare a common plan to ameliorate climate change impacts by adaptation or mitigation measures in the food chain sector in the region. In parallel, we will evaluate the implementation of existing National Plans, identify possible gaps or failures and propose policy actions to amend these.

Although ensuring food production in the EMME region necessitates the adaptation of policies and measures mainly at the national level, efforts and fundamental reforms and synergies should be regionally coordinated. Of particular importance is the exchange of know-how and successful good practices from one country to another. In fact, key policy guidance should involve institutional interactions, technical upgrades and science-based solutions. Resources as well as knowledge transfer and investments in agricultural ecosystems is essential to enhance adaptation to climate change and the development of specific tools and instruments to ensure food security and quality. The coordinated identification and employment of modern tools (digitalization, remote sensing etc.) at a regional level would offer a greater efficacy.

Abstract from the Report of the Task Force on the Agriculture and the Food Chain

The goal of this report is to encourage and facilitate regional coordination so that food production becomes more adaptable and resilient to climate change. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the impact of climate change on livestock production, food security, land degradation, and fisheries and aquaculture in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) region, which comprises Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen. Primary food production is one of the region’s most important economic activities, representing 6.03% of the region’s mean GDP — ranging from 0.19% in Qatar to 22.5% in Syria. The sector is concomitantly an essential source of employment, accounting for as much as 28.3% of employment in Yemen in 2020 and as little as 0.89% in Israel, with the mean in the region estimated at 9.38%. Modelling predicts worsening climatic conditions for food production at the middle and the end of the century. Crops, livestock, and aquaculture are expected to be affected by more intense heat waves, higher average temperatures, and deeper and more frequent droughts. Higher temperatures and more variable rainfall are expected to increase the region’s aridity, exacerbating the already-low productivity of agricultural ecosystems and shrinking biodiversity. Loss of biodiversity in managed and unmanaged ecosystems will negatively affect ecosystem services, with immense repercussions for the region. Mobilisation of resources for knowledge transfer and investments in agricultural ecosystems is essential to enhance the sector’s adaptation to climate change. Resources for research and development related to crops, livestock, and aquaculture sectors are urgently needed to develop tools and instruments to face the challenges of climate change in the
food sector. Access to new knowledge, information, funding, infrastructure, and institutions strengthens the adaptive capacity of people in the food industry. Low-income communities and overexploited natural resources are likely to adapt less well to climate change than farmers and communities in well-connected areas of richer countries.

Task Force

Task Force Management Board
Prof. Andreas Kanamanos, Agricultural University of Athens (Coordinator)
Dr. Reem Nejdawi, Sustainable Development Policies Division, UN House, Lebanon
Dr. Michalis Omirou, Agricultural Research Institute, Cyprus

Cyprus Institute Liaison Scientist
Dr. Michalis Omirou

Task Force Members
Prof. Tayel El-Hasan, Mutah University, Jordan
Dr. Pauline Y. Aad, Notre-Dame University Louaize, Lebanon
Prof. Konstantinos Kormas, University of Thessaly, Greece
Prof. Ioannis Ipsilantis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Prof. Athanasios Tsikliras, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Dr. Dionysia Fasoula, Agricultural Research Institute, Cyprus
Dr. Georgia Hadjipavlou, Agricultural Research Institute, Cyprus
Prof. Mark Tester, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia
Prof. Constantinos Kosmas, Agricultural University of Athens
Prof. Mohtar Rabi, American University of Beirut, Lebanon