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News New publication: “Water Scarcity, Security and Democracy: A Mediterranean Mosaic”

A new – much awaited - book by the Cornell University, the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and the Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean has been published in September 2014. Like its title foretells, the book is a mosaic on its own; of stories, insights, questions and answers on water in the Mediterranean.

By travelling around the region and exploring interrelated themes, its chapters make deep-dive stops, connecting the Mediterranean’s shores, people and natural resources. The book aspires to provide a source of reference and inspiration towards better understanding water-related socio-political balances in the region.

A number of experts from a variety of academic institutions, international organizations and research centers[1] share with the readers their expertise and perceptions: from the cultural and practical significance of water in our everyday life - including intellectual, aesthetic and moral aspects, to the shaping role water has on the region’s societies determining their level of development; from the creative imagination the Mediterranean peoples have invested throughout history transforming the growing water challenge into a driver for innovation and social organization, to the important role education plays in creating a new, responsible, wise water culture, as well as in enabling sustainable solutions; from conflict on shared water resources, to cooperation towards sharing benefits for improved livelihoods; and so much more…

The book provides cases from all around the region: from the Greek island of Crete that has to balance water demand for tourism and agriculture, to Palestine with its critical water needs and rapidly deteriorating water quality; from the potential for improved water utilization in Lebanon to the luring Southern EU shores receiving millions of tourists– along the thousands of immigrants - every year; from Algeria’s effort to preserve its foggara traditional groundwater exploitation technique as a piece of national heritage to the controversial large-scale agricultural development projects in Syria that have led to rural communities’ dislocations and urbanization; from the elaborative effort towards sustainable management of the transboundary Drin River basin, to water challenges in Spanish agriculture.

All these water challenges are addressed, on the one hand, in the framework of the “fine mosaic of solid pieces of immense durability” that represents the Mediterranean region, a mosaic of peoples, historical backgrounds and memories, civilizations, religions, ideologies and philosophies; and on the other hand, within a range of pressures: biodiversity losses, increasing pollution, fast-growing population and unsustainable consuming, fast-developing urbanization, climate variability and change ante portas with increasing desertification, droughts and floods phenomena, etc. Together with and/or because of the above, the region faces a deep socio-political and economic crisis, including armed conflict and resulting migration. In this context, the importance of today’s water security challenge shall not be underestimated nor ignored.

The book is presenting the huge multidimensional challenges and proposes a path towards ensuring sustained economic growth, human security and political stability in the region: the path of integrated water resources management and its nexus approach with energy and food. Given the importance of the coastal area for developmental activities in the region, an integrated approach to coastal and river basin management is also highlighted. These need to be prioritized by governments, local authorities, civil society, businesses, academics and other stakeholders involved. The book advocates that solutions are within reach: good governance; participatory policy making, implementation and monitoring; accessible information; enforced capacities; affordable technologies and innovation; socially sensitive investments; tailor-made, pro-poor fiscal instruments; coordinated efforts and initiatives, are just some of the tools needed to turn policy into action shaping thus a better future for the whole region.

The book was edited by Professors Gail (Electra) Holst-Warhaft and Tammo Steenhuis of the Cornell University, as well as Dr. Francesca de Châtel. GWP-Med Chairman, Prof. Michael Scoullos, addresses the readers via the book’s foreword. Furthermore, GWP-Med, in collaboration with UNECE, contributed the case of the dynamically evolving Drin River Basin collaboration.

Please find attached the book. It is also available online at

Contact information Georgia Angelopoulou (email:
Phone: +30 210 3247490, 3247267 (ext. 303)
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File link local Water Scarcity, Security and Democracy_A Mediterranean Mosaic_Online Version.pdf (PDF, 4639 Kb)
Source of information Global Water Partnership Mediterranean
Keyword(s) water management, Mediteterranean, history, traditions
Geographical coverage n/a