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HTML Document Blue Plan Zaragoza Workshop

Agenda point 7

Released 07/12/2007

4th Conference of the Water Directors of the Euro-Mediterranean and Southeastern European Countries 10 and 11 December 2007, Bled, Slovenia.

Presentation of the Zaragoza regional workshop (March 2007)

In the Mediterranean rim countries, water resources are limited and unevenly distributed in both space and time - Southern rim countries are endowed with only 13% of total resources. Twenty million Mediterranean people, particularly in the South and East, are deprived of access to drinking water.

Within a context of worsening shortage in parts of the region and in view of the uncertainties brought about by climate change, there is an absolute need to adapt water management policies, to better manage the different water uses and to ensure more optimal and effective use of resources, if present and future needs of populations and development are to be satisfied. It is also likely that, in certain countries, an increase in supply is needed to be secured through better water resources management (increase in exploitable potential and anti-pollution measures) or through unconventional production of water (desalination, reuse.).

Following the adoption of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development in November 2005, the Blue Plan was tasked by the rim countries and the European Union with organising a 3rd regional workshop on Water Demand Management in the Mediterranean. Organised jointly by the Blue Plan and its regional partners in the field of water, with the support of Expo Zaragoza 2008 and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza, this workshop took place in Zaragoza from the 19th to the 21st of March 2007. It brought together over a hundred participants from fifteen Mediterranean countries, representatives of national institutions, of academia, of the private sector and of associations. Moreover, it benefited from active contributions by international organisations and financial institutions.

The regional workshop was based on the presentation of national reports carried out in volunteer countries, regional studies and papers. The local and national studies aimed to document concrete examples of good practices and to measure the progress actually made over the last years in terms of water demand management in the main sectors of use, factoring natural water needs for the ecosystems into policies and factoring water demand management into water and cooperation policies. During the debates, the participants thus evoked ways of optimising the various water uses for agriculture, cities and industry, while taking into account the water needs for the ecosystems.

The presentations, as well as the discussions having followed them, made it possible to highlight the reality of the progress made since the Fiuggi workshop - organised in 2002 - in matter of taking into account water demand management in the water policies and certain sectoral policies.

At the regional level, the Mediterranean rim countries, thus, obtained a common strategy for sustainable development, the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development, retaining water like priority field of intervention and attempting to promote integrated water resource and water demand management. This framework strategy aims at inspiring the National Strategies for Sustainable Development as well as sectoral strategies. Its implementation thus constitutes a real challenge for the region and for the development's actors playing a part in the Mediterranean.

At the national level, many countries had recourse to the various technical, regulations, tax, contractual tools at their disposal to progress in the field of water demand management. The relevance and efficiency of the economic tools, still insufficiently used though playing a key role in matter of aligning the policies with water demand management requirements, were particularly underscored. For the EU Member States, it has emerged that the Water Framework Directive has had a particularly decisive effect on accelerating the adoption of water demand management in the water policies. This Directive thus proves to contribute to the development of some new « know-how » which could be inspiring to EU neighbouring countries.

At the local level, the concern of better implying the water actors, in particular the users - that those concern the agricultural world or the urban area - was often reaffirmed and at the same time innovative and positive experiments were committed.

The exchanges confirmed these evolutions, but also showed the need for permanently having reliable, comparable and regularly updated data to inform and light the decision makers. They, also, underlined the interest to better articulate the problems related to the water resources management to the global environmental problems, and in particular the climate change.

Secondly, the workshop has reaffirmed the importance which it is advisable to attach as regards water demand management for agricultural and industrial sectors, with the drinking water supply and the safeguarding of the ecosystems. The association of the users of the domestic networks and the irrigated areas with the decisions with regard to them springs like an essential element of success of the initiatives in favour of water demand management. It is to say the importance which sticks to the public awareness and to education, by stressing that this is the public and non-public actors' responsibility. But this association - even responsibilisation - of non-public actors calls an effort renewed as regards research, sharing good practices so that the technical routes most powerful permanently required then are adopted.

Thirdly, the workshop has shown, as is demonstrated by the concept of « virtual water », that new approaches could be taken into account to clarify the choices. But the workshop also underlined the eminent part which the national authorities play in the strategies and fields of intervention of the development's actors. Indeed, as long as the States will not post a strong priority for water demand management, the development's actors will not be able to support the projects or operations relating to it.

The recommendations proposed by the participants at the end of the regional workshop were adopted by the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development in May 2007. Intended to the political decision makers so much their role as regards promotion of water demand management remains essential, these recommendations underline the need to include water demand management in the national priority strategies, to promote its implementation and to coordinate its implementation, follow-up and evaluation in the various sectoral policies, especially in the fields of agriculture, energy, tourism, environment and land development.

Recommendations of the Zaragoza regional workshop (19-21 March 2007)

Considering Recommendation 26 of the Action Plan adopted at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development,

Committed to the implementation of the Barcelona Convention and the objectives of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development,

Being of the opinion that the European Union Framework Directive on Water contains know-how in several fields which the EU neighbours might wish to share,

Considering that Water Demand Management is a resource and that it is an integral part of integrated water resources management,

Recalling that water demand in the Mediterranean is expected to increase by 50 km3/year by 2025 to reach 330 km3/year, and that the various losses due to transport, leaking and the various uses could exceed 120 km3/year,

The participants to the 3rd Regional Workshop on Water and Sustainable Development in the Mediterranean, convened at Zaragoza, 19-21 March 2007, recommend to the national political authorities of the Mediterranean countries to:

  • include, in accordance with the MSSD orientations, Water Demand Management, in the national priority strategies, to promote its implementation, on the one hand by setting annually on the basis of regional objectives, national objectives of efficiency and on the other - in order to achieve them - by mobilizing, with a concern for social equity, the various technical instruments and tools, but also those regulatory, normative, tariff, fiscal, contractual or market tools and instruments available to them; further, to coordinate its implementation, follow-up and evaluation in the various sectoral policies, especially in the fields of agriculture, energy, tourism, environment and land development,

  • see to it that the problems connected with Water Demand Management are properly integrated within the global environmental problems, such as climate change, and biodiversity and ecosystem conservation,

  • promote mobilization and responsibilization, at the various relevant territorial scales, connected with either the rural or the urban environment, of the various stakeholders concerned with Water Demand Management, public, academic, private or association-related by taking into consideration the particular role of women in this field; further to invite the partners, public - especially donors - and private to contribute to the resulting activities, operations and investments,

  • take all necessary measures to raise the awareness of the public in terms of Water Demand Management - especially through environmental education activities, mainly by informing the public on the challenges involved and by identifying, implementing and making use of the relevant good practices, especially concerning the maintenance of water distribution systems, individual consumption of drinking water, rational use in agriculture as a function of the geographical context, and the protection of ecosystems,

  • assess, every two years, progress accomplished in Water Demand Management and therefore reinforce the inclusion of Water Demand Management in the national information systems on water; further to document the various relevant indicators, mainly those adopted by the MSSD,

  • reinforce the regional scientific and institutional cooperation to promote Water Demand Management and contribute to setting up a Mediterranean Water Observatory which would, on a continuous basis, compile data, information and good practices useful to Mediterranean stakeholders and decision makers.

Moreover, it is expected of the Blue Plan, in conjunction with its partners to:

  • make a report, every two years, on progress accomplished in the Mediterranean in the field of Water Demand Management

  • contribute to establishing a compendium of good practices in the field of Water Demand Management

  • organize in 2012 the fourth regional workshop in Water Demand Management.


Done at Zaragoza, on 21 March 2007