Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Strengthening Capacity to Manage Ecosystems Sustainably for Human Well-Being

Arab Region Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Supporting Decision Making for the Sustainable Use of Ecosystems


Three sites have been selected from across the region to be the focal sites for this study:

  • Assir national Park, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; located in the Assir Mountains which contain one of the most important ecological hotspots in the Arab region. Encompasses three main habitat types: sandy desert, high altitude habitats, and Marine habitat of the red Sea.
  • Sinai Peninsula, Egypt; one of the main heritage sites of Mankind, embracing a unique collection of sacred shrines and ecologically valuable landmarks. The ecosystems include desert, mountains, wetlands, coastal, agricultural and marine ecosystems.
  • Tafilalt Oasis, Morocco; located in the Sahara SE Morocco, with an area of about 1,370 km2. It contains date groves, palm trees and small trading settlements.

Lead institutions

UNEP Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA) is the lead organization to coordinate the regional assessment, in partnership with the following lead national institutions,- Presidency of Meteorology and Protection of the Environment, Saudi Arabia; the Suez Canal University, Egypt; and the Moroccan National Observatory for the Environment.

Overall project management:

  • Mahmood Abdulraheem
    Director and Regional Representative
    Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA)
    United Nations Environment Programme
    P.O. Box 10880, Manama, Bahrain
    Phone: 973-826600
    Fax: 973-825110/825111

Technical and regional coordination:

  • Adel Farid Abdel-Kader
    Programme Officer
    Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA)
    United Nations Environment Programme
    P.O. Box 10880, Manama, Bahrain
    Phone: 973-826600
    Fax: 973-825110/825111

Focal issues

The main goal of the project is to promote the adoption of integrated assessment approaches in the Arab region at the local, national and regional levels. This will be accomplished by conducting a pilot study that will serve to develop the framework for a coordinated and integrated regional collaborative multi-scale assessment effort. An integrated assessment approach will provide the information to decision-makers for designing a comprehensive and sustainable management plan for the environment.

Ecosystem services being assessed

The ecosystems to be addressed in this study are diverse, including desert ecosystem, mountain ecosystem, coastal ecosystem, agro-ecosystems, freshwater ecosystem and rangeland ecosystems. These systems provide a wide range of goods and services, including food, drinking water, water for agriculture and industry, medicinal services, aesthetic and recreational services, and other socio-economically important products and services.

Project outputs

The outputs will include regional and site-specific assessment reports, Web portals and national and regional information systems, capacity building strategies, regional conceptual framework and harmonized methodology, specialized in-depth modules of the training package, a series of workshops for both the producers and users and institutional network of partner institutions and expertise.

Key features of the assessment

The unique and highly vulnerable ecosystems of the Arab Region are at serious risk from increasing human populations and their associated activities. The concept of this study is to select strategic sites of importance in the region that represent regional ecosystems and can be linked hierarchically with national and global ecosystems. The study will provide the scientific information base to support decision-making and policy formulation in order to protect and promote sustainable management of the ecosystems in the selected sites and related areas. There is a movement to concentrate on increasingly decentralized governance in order to sustain ecosystem services at a local level. The study would provide the scientific information and knowledge for sound management of these resources.

Timeframe, budget

The estimated funding for this project is $1,040,000 US. Some of the funding has already been secured while the various partners will raise the rest. Saudi Arabia has pledged US$ 400,000 for the study. It is expected that this study will start at the last quarter of 2003 and extend to the end of 2005.