The Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean is mandated to play a major role in the identification, promotion and searchfor funding water projects in the region. 60 experts, officially representing 22 countries, together with the European Commission and League of Arab States and representatives of 23 international, inter- and non-governmental organisations met over a period of two days todiscuss the way forward especially with regards to the identification and development of joint Mediterranean water projects. An exceptional and unanimous decision was made during the meeting to recommend to the UfM Senior Officials the labelization of a major project of constructing desalinationplant for Gaza, identified by the meeting as addressing one of the most urgent humanitarian matters in the Mediterranean.
The Division of Water at the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean hosted the 4th meeting of the Water Expert Group (WEG) at its premises at the Palau de Pedralbes. Over a period of 2 days experts from 22 countries officially represented at the meeting and23 high-level representatives of inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations had the chance to be more acquainted with the work program of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean, and seek means of collaboration in the field of Water in the Mediterranean basin. Water remains one of the main common challenges facing the Mediterranean countries, which affect most of its population, especially on the Southern part of the Mediterranean, where many countries are among the top 20 poorest in water resources.
During this meeting, the experts exchanged views on identifying and implementing future regional or sub-regional projects, in addition to finding means of technical collaboration among the member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean. The Deputy Secretary General for Water and Environment Dr. Rafiq Husseini, who chaired the meeting,made a presentation where he explained the role of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean, the Water Division 2011 work program, and the project guidelines for processing an UfM project. In addition, the participants were briefed on the EU funded regional projects in the field of Water and Horizon 2020. Also elaborated at the meeting were potential scenariosfor technical collaboration among the 43 country members.
At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed todraft work plan for the WEG for the rest of 2011 & 2012 in accordance withthe Jordan Ministerial Declaration on Water (December 2008), and follow up on the other tasks defined by the said Declaration. The participants also declared their readiness to support the UfM Secretariat in the attainment of its technical mandate, with technical expertise and advice, whenever needed and possible. One of the major outcomes was that the country members will follow the recently approved UfM project guidelines when submitting their respective country projects in the field of water. They have also decided to pursue organizing sub-regional WEG meetings to assist countries in developing projects proposals. In addition, they agreed to share and exchange best practices in the water resource management and maintain the close coordination through the Secretariat in order to ensure harmonization and complementarity of their efforts.
Moreover, apart from proposing to the SOM the labialisation of a Desalination plant project for Gaza, WEG agreed to indicate to SOM that a number of projects have been presented corresponding to the four thematic priorities of the Water Ministerial Declaration (Jordan,2008) and recalled the need to address how to strengthen the coordination and synergies between existing Mediterranean initiatives and networks on information and expertise.
The Water Expert Group (WEG) was formed to implement the declarations of the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Water, which was held at the Dead Sea, Jordan on 22ndDec. 2008
The First Meeting of the Water Expert Group (7-8 September 2009, Athens, Greece) decided, among others, on the establishment of a Technical Drafting Group (TDG) to work on the drafting of a Strategy for Water in the Mediterranean (SWM) aiming for a structured and inclusive process under the political and technical guidance of the WEG. MED EUWI provided administrative assistance to the process in coordination with the UfM Co-Chairs.
The TDG was chaired by Spain and composed of Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Croatia, the European Commission and the League of Arab States. The TDG met for the first time on 26 October 2009, and for the second time on 3-4 February 2010, in Madrid, Spain. The Second Water Expert Group met on 4 November 2009, in Cairo, Egypt and the Third Water Expert Group met on 25 February 2010, in Madrid, Spain.