The first report of the Ecological Threat Register describes Morocco as a medium-exposure country located near a troubled Sahel region.
Rabat – A new report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) predicts issues with water shortages and regional instability for Morocco.
The inaugural Ecological Threat Register published on Wednesday paints a bleak future for the world as a whole. The report estimates that over 1 billion people are under threat of displacement and 1.5 billion could face food insecurity by 2050.
The report uses data on ecological factors like population growth, water and food insecurity, natural disasters, and temperature increases. It combines this data with an analysis of the societal resilience, peacefulness, and regional impacts that nations may face in the coming decades.
The report shows that Morocco faces three major ecological threats amid a possible migration crisis in its south.
Threats to Morocco
The report predicts that Morocco will face significant climate-change related issues. Water stress tops the list.
One third of the world’s countries, including Morocco, will face high to extreme levels of water stress by 2040, meaning that half of all available water is used up each year. Morocco and the Maghreb face the highest levels of water insecurity in northwestern Africa.
Moroccans are among the 2.6 billion people around the world under threat of water scarcity. Rising temperatures and less predictable rainfall could become a significant threat if no action is taken to mitigate current trends. Within two decades, many Moroccans could be forced to move within the country to areas with better water availability as regions around the Sahara become even drier.
Rising temperatures and population growth are relatively moderate for Morocco, but they could lead to more severe natural disasters. Droughts are likely to become more frequent as agriculture and national water consumption grow.
Mauritania, Benin, and Senegal face some of the gravest threats from drought in the world which could result in millions of displaced people to Morocco’s south.
While Morocco is considered to be under low stress of food security, several countries in the Sahel are among the report’s highest impacted by food shortages. Combined with instability and low levels of development, this could mean that many sub-Saharan and West African people will become climate refugees driven by hunger.
The global picture
While the report’s predictions for Morocco sound bleak, the country is actually part of the largest group of “medium-exposure” countries that also includes Australia, China, the Netherlands, the United States, and most West African countries. The worst-hit countries are those already facing desperation.
The report estimates that one-quarter of the world’s population lives in a group of 19 countries that are estimated to face high threat levels in the coming decades.
Mozambique and Namibia face five significant threats and Afghanistan faces six. India is the largest country facing four concurrent threats, making it a potential climate-change powderkeg.
Higher-income countries in Europe and North America face less of a threat from climate change. Yet as temperatures rise and the number of climate refugees grows, these countries will face increased pressure from international migration. Even in high-income countries, 2.7% of the population could face structural hunger as food prices rise due to global scarcity.
“Ecological threats and climate change pose serious challenges to global peacefulness,” says IEP founder and Chairman Steve Killelea.
Killelea stressed that urgent action is needed, saying “over the next 30 years lack of access to food and water will only increase without urgent global cooperation.”
The Sahel region, located south of Morocco, is a cluster of ecological hotspots, according to the report. Continued political and social instability in the Sahel means the region could struggle to cope with the effects of climate change.
What can be done?
The report’s outlook for Morocco and the world sounds apocalyptic in its scale. Yet there are many things the international community and Morocco itself can do to avert or mitigate disaster.
Morocco’s role as a regional player will become ever more vital for the region. West African countries are not among the worst affected, but regional instability poses a major threat. Morocco is growing its influence in the region, which could become a crucial factor in the near future as regional collaboration could mitigate most of the threats presented by climate change.
Morocco needs to continue developing its technological capabilities.
The country could invest in desalination, the technology that can transform seawater into drinking water. Through significant investment, the country could develop enough desalination plants before its groundwater reserves are depleted. This could prevent forced migration within the country and give Morocco plentiful access to the most valuable resource of the future.
Moroccan diplomacy and international collaboration with Sahel countries must be a priority in Rabat’s foreign policy decisions.
Ensuring stability and promoting development in the region could be one of the most important ways to prevent a northward migrant crisis. Morocco is not alone in wanting to prevent such migration flows and could get significant support from the EU.
Morocco is currently the sixth-largest recipient of climate-related aid. The report shows that Morocco received $993 million in foreign support in 2018 and this number could rise in the face of regional trends. This aid aims to reduce emissions from waste, industry, agriculture, and energy production and could strengthen Morocco’s position as a global leader in climate change mitigation.
In the end, the future hinges on the priorities of the global community.
If countries continue to ignore climate change or get drawn into conflict over resources, global prospects are dire.
“In the absence of action, civil unrest, riots and conflict will most likely increase” according to the IEP chairman. If anything is certain about our future, it is that the time for action is now.