The critical environmental and sustainability issues of the State of Palestine:
1. Lack of Essential Services and Poverty
As estimated at 2.8% in 2017, entails increasing demand on basic services. By 2030, there will be a need to construct 1650 new schools, 36 new hospitals and create one million new jobs. The State of Palestine continues to make active efforts in strengthening its partnership with the international community. 29.2% of Palestinians live under the national poverty line as of 2017, 13.9% in the West Bank and 53% in the Gaza Strip, while 16.8% of Palestinians live in deep poverty, 5.8% in the West Bank and 33.8% in the Gaza Strip. Poverty in Palestine is on the rise due to a variety of socio-economic and political circumstances where poverty increased by 13.2% from 25.8% in 2011 and 29.3% in 2017.
According to a national survey completed by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF in 2013, 10.3% of children aged 6-59 months suffer from stunting, and 4.5% are malnourished with vitamins and other mineral deficiencies. Simultaneously, the study found that 22.1% of males and 23.1% of females are overweight which signals a double burden of Malnutrition. A strong agricultural sector is crucial for bolstering food security in Palestine, yet it operates below its expected productivity levels and has been in serious decline over the past two decades. The contribution of agriculture to GDP has declined from 8.5% in 2000 to below 3% in 2016, while employment in the agricultural sector declined from 14.1% to 7.4% in the same period.
3. Child Health
Neonatal mortality (within 28 days from birth) still account for almost 2/3 of infant mortality and half of under-five child deaths, which could be prevented. In addition, 99% of births occurred under professional supervision and 95.5% of pregnant women received medical antenatal care (minimum of 4 medical visits throughout pregnancy). Contraception usage is still low however, at 57.2% while exclusive breastfeeding is at 38.6% for the first 6 months.
4. Women-centric issues
Although Palestinian women have achieved high education levels, surpassing their male counterparts, only 19% of Palestinian women participate in the labor market. The remaining 81% engage in unpaid domestic work. Unemployment amongst women remains very high with an unemployment rate of 47.5% as of 2017. Additionally, one of the highest unemployment rates is amongst young female graduates, of whom 72% are unemployed compared to 37.8% of young male graduates. Only 4% of young women completed the transition from education to the labor market.
5. Climate Change
The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecasts significant warming in the eastern Mediterranean region (larger than global annual mean warming by 2.2-5.1ºC), and a substantial decrease in annual rainfall (a drop of 10% by 2020 and 20% by 2050). Extreme weather conditions are also likely to accompany these changes, with an increase in the number of annual days of high temperature (over 30ºC). These changes will have serious impacts on life in Palestine, including creating challenging agricultural conditions that could affect productive capacity, as well as increasing the propensity for dangerous climate-driven events like forest fires, storms, flooding and desertification. The effects of global climate change have already become visible in Palestine, including evidence of rapidly rising temperatures and reduced rainfall.
Reducing carbon emissions is therefore a priority for the Palestinian government. Currently, Palestine is responsible for 0.96metric tons of CO2 emissions per capita per year (TPC/Y), far below its Arab neighbours: Jordan (3.44 TPC/Y), Egypt (2.62 TPC/Y) and Lebanon (4.7 TPC/Y), and less than a tenth of Israel’s (9.27 TPC/Y).