20-21 February 2023, Dubai –The Union for the Mediterranean, together with the Spanish Agency for Cooperation, AECID, have organised a key session in the framework of the Arab Water Convention, the Interactive Session 4 on Design Thinking Challenge (Future Lab). In the event, spokespersons have pitched new and innovative, out-of-the box ideas that could help make non-conventional water resources in the region more financially attractive.
The Arab Water Council supported by the League of Arab States and the Union for the Mediterranean have organized its Arab Water Convention, dedicated this year to address the use of Non-Conventional Water Resources (NCWR) as a strategic solution and explore wealth of emerging opportunities and boosting investment.
There is consensus about the fact that water management should be based on an integrated approach (Integrated Water Resources Management, IWRM). Water policy and management need to reflect the inherently interrelated nature of hydrological resources, and IWRM is the accepted alternative to the sector-by-sector, top-down management style that has dominated the past. The basis of IWRM is that the many different uses of water resources are interdependent.
At the same time, current pressure on the availability of water resources has led us to resort to non-conventional water resources (NCWR) as an efficient and sustainable solution. However, some of these NCWR come at a very high cost. That is the case of desalination, as a matter of fact, which process is highly costly. Using renewable energy is key to reduce the costs.
The UfM Deputy Secretary General, Almotaz Abadi, emphasized that the time has come to create a financial platform for NCWR projects and link investment in the wastewater sector to blue and green economies. Furthermore, to select projects that are able to foster NCWR integration into the water governance system and related business opportunities in the context of circular economy.
Providing the required boost to finance and projects is crucial for the Mediterranean region. More finance is needed for water projects in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. The UfM is committed to enhancing the sustainability of national water systems through facilitating peer-learning in water finance (as done in the past in Albania and Jordan), holding the regional and flagship event the UfM Annual Conference on Water Investment and Financing, and the training of experts on writing bankable project proposals as a future activity the UfM is exploring to carry out.
Moreover, the UfM will continue to seek for projects to label that promote new NCWR and business opportunities, as well as initiatives and programmes that help access finance for recovery and resilience projects. UfM member states have confirmed in the latest regional platform meetings held that the UfM Water Agenda 2030 and its Financial Strategy are meaningful and necessary in assisting countries to tackle and manage current and future water issues in the Mediterranean, adding that the Water Agenda and the four thematic areas are diverse and well-placed to serve the countries of the Mediterranean. In addition to it, the UfM presented last October 2022 a High-Level Action Agenda on Water Finance and Investment for Climate Resilience (the Cairo Action Agenda).