Sharm El-Sheikh, 12 May 2015 – The UfM-labelled project ‘Water Integrity Capacity Building Programme for the Middle East and North Africa’ has been officially launched today in Sharm El-Sheikh (Egypt) during the IUCN-ROWA regional conference “Water and Nature Knowledge Sharing Forum”, with the participation of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean.
The project, promoted by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), targets a broad range of beneficiaries, including water officials involved in regulation, controlling and planning; mid-level water managers; farmers’ organisations, water user associations, the media, students, women’s groups and other civil society actors in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Morocco and Tunisia, with the potential to expand it to more countries in the future. Direct beneficiaries will also include the national partners, universities, and research centres, which will be equipped with state-of-the-art knowledge on water integrity and the skills to include modules of water integrity in their curricula.
Through stakeholder engagement, assessment of water integrity risks and the implementation of the capacity building programme, the project aims to strengthen dialogue and advocacy at regional level on how integrity, transparency, accountability and corruption can be addressed in water resource management, drawing on experiences at basin-level, country-level and local level for new and suitable approaches.
More specifically, it aims to raise awareness and foster high-level political dialogue at inter-governmental level on water integrity, increase knowledge at national level about tools to improve the flow of information and communication channels between decision-makers, enhance skills among mid-level water managers and professionals and increase the capacity of civil society to demand transparency and accountability in the management of water resources and services.
In line with UfM’s priorities, the overall objective of the project is to contribute to ensuring that people in the MENA region enjoy a better quality of life through the implementation of integrated, equitable and sustainable water resources management.
Financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the project’s partners include Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med), Arab Integrated Water Resources Management Network (AWARENET), International Union for Conservation of Nature – Regional Office of West Asia (IUCN-ROWA), as well as several universities, institutes and research centres in the participating countries. Throughout the inception period, the UfM Secretariat worked with the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) to broaden project activities, introduced a new implementation partner, secured additional support from line ministries, and ensured this project was labelled in time for the announcement of the first regional training event in Tunis, in December 2014.
The UfM Secretariat has been actively engaged in a series of events and activities in the fields of Water, the Environment and Climate Change. In this respect, the UfM Ministerial Meeting on Environment and Climate Change (Athens, May 2014) marked a strong political expression of the UfM countries’ commitment in the field of environmental protection, resource efficiency and climate change, which is being addressed at the UfM in close connection with other major regional challenges, such as water scarcity, energy, food security, overpopulation and resilience to extreme weather events.
In line with the priorities set by the Ministerial Meeting, and within the framework of the Mediterranean Climate Week organised by Morocco, a UfM Informal High-Level Conference on Climate Change took place in Morocco (8 May) with the aim of contributing to regional and national efforts to prepare climate change goals in the Mediterranean, while the “Private Sector Forum on Food Security in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Region” hosted by the UfM Secretariat (5-6 May) aimed at boosting sustainable agricultural production and trade as one of the main priorities for the southern and eastern rim of the Mediterranean, where most countries produce insufficient quantities of staple foods.