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Impact of climate change on shared water resources in the Euphrates basin

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The Arab region is highly dependent on shared water resources, with most Arab countries relying on water supply shared with neighbouring Arab States or with countries from outside the region. Over a third of freshwater resources originate from outside the region’s borders and, in terms of shared surface water, 14 of 22 Arab countries share a surface-water body. The region is also one of the most water scarce in the world. This scarcity manifests in the agricultural sector – a crucial source of food security and livelihoods in the region and the largest water consumer, with an average of 80 per cent of freshwater resources throughout the region directed towards agricultural use. Projected climate change impacts on water availability will exacerbate existing pressures on water resources. These factors significantly effect the quantity and quality of freshwater supply to all water-dependent sectors, especially agriculture, threatening food security in the region. The Euphrates River Basin is a typical example of this situation.

The present technical report provides a detailed case study on the assessment of climate change impacts on shared water resource use and availability in the Euphrates Basin in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic. It includes an analysis of localized impacts of climate change on wheat yields, and a discussion of climate change impacts on GDP in the Basin. The regional climate projections for the Mashreq Domain used to inform the present report were produced by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. The study was carried out as part of a project focused on water and food security under a changing climate context, led by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.