Accelerating Climate Action for Libya

March 28, 2024

UNDP and partners at the launch of Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition initiatives

Abdallah Hussien / UNDP Libya

As the world continues to grapple with the escalating impacts of climate change, the urgency for joint action has never been greater. In Libya, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) remains at the forefront of addressing these challenges, building on our commitments and progress since our last editorial. Over the past year, our efforts have intensified, with innovative initiatives and strengthened partnerships paving the way for a more sustainable and resilient future. In this editorial, we reflect on our journey, celebrate our achievements, and reaffirm our dedication to combating climate change and promoting energy transition for the well-being of current and future generations in Libya.

The devastating impact of Storm Daniel in September 2023 reaffirmed Libya's susceptibility to climate-related disasters. The catastrophic floods hit the northeastern coast, particularly in Derna, the hardest, claiming over 5,600 lives and displacing 45,000 persons. The floods also highlighted the critical need for solid mitigation and adaptation measures. In response, UNDP has supported the World Bank-United Nations-European Union Rapid Damages and Needs Assessment, which estimates the value of damages and losses to the ton of US$ 1.8billion. UNDP is also undertaking a damage assessment of the critical water infrastructure and supporting the local authorities and the Benghazi Derna Reconstruction Fund (BDCF) in addressing the recovery needs of flood-affected areas. Our efforts focus on rebuilding infrastructure, restoring livelihoods, and boosting resilience, ensuring communities are better prepared for future disasters.

Amidst these challenges, UNDP has launched three key initiatives that underscore our commitment to environmental sustainability and climate resilience in Libya:

  • Improved Water Security in Libya initiative addresses the country's pressing water crisis. Libya is among the top 10 water-stressed countries in the world, where more than 80% of the freshwater comes from fossil water, and more than 80% of the water resources are used for irrigation, livestock, industry, and other household needs. The initiative aims to strengthen national water resource planning and governance, build the resilience of water communities to rising water scarcity, and enhance water infrastructure management, with an overall aim to ensure long-term water security for the Libyan people.
  • The Environment and Climate Change Mitigation initiative fosters a green growth transition and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the oil sector. By developing a national climate change strategy and policies, building institutional capacities, and raising awareness of climate change impacts, we are advocating for Libya's fulfilment of its main global environmental requirements. This includes, for instance, efforts to reduce the flaring and venting of methane during production and refinement by Libya's hydrocarbon industry. Libya is, in fact, among the highest polluters in the world in terms of its barrel-to-flare ratio – which increased from 2.3 to 5.9 million cubic meters per year between 2016 and 2019 (GGFR, 2020).
  • Support to Energy Transition in Libya initiative is focused on transforming the country's energy system to be more equitable, resilient, and low-carbon. The electricity sector was responsible for 25 million tonnes of GHG emissions and 75 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2021. UNDP aims to support Libya's journey towards a more sustainable energy landscape through policy reform, investment in renewable energy projects, and enhancing energy efficiency, laying the groundwork for a sustainable and low-carbon future.

As Libya faces the dual challenges of climate change and economic dependency on fossil fuels, these initiatives are more than just projects; they are a blueprint for a sustainable future. With Libya's significant oil revenue, the country has a unique opportunity to invest in these transformative initiatives. UNDP aims to leverage this financial advantage to accelerate the transition to a green economy, ensuring that the country not only mitigates the impacts of climate change but also harnesses the economic benefits of sustainable development.

The road ahead is challenging, but we can pave the way for a resilient and prosperous Libya with collaborative efforts and a steadfast commitment to climate action (SDG 13). UNDP is proud to be a part of this journey, working alongside the Libyan government, local communities, and international partners to build a future where no one is left behind.
Christopher Laker, UNDP Libya Resident Representative a.i.