1st Regional Conference: More than 110 stakeholders reflecting on the governance & financing nexus

The 1st Regional Conference of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) labelled project Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector was organised on 28-30 October 2014, in Athens, Greece, by the Global Water Partnership- Mediterranean (GWP-Med), in close collaboration with the EU funded Sustainable Water Integrated Management-Support Mechanism (SWIM-SM) project. It convened more than 110 decision makers; representatives of government; civil society; the private sector; international organisations; donors and financing institutions.

In continuation of the Regional Policy Dialogue set off during the launching of the UfM project in May 2013, the Conference set the ground for the sharing of experiences and best practices on governance and sustainable financing for the water sector. It addressed the main bottlenecks and cross-cutting issues in the water governance-financing nexus. Moreover, the event reflected on a platform for regional dialogue on the governance and financing nexus among public, private and civil society actors calling for further north-south and south-south cooperation.

During the high level opening at the Acropolis Museum, chaired by Prof. Michael Scoullos, Chairman of the Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med), H.E. Naser Tahboub, the UfM Deputy Secretary General for Environment and Water highlighted the need “to strengthen regional cooperation to improve capacity and institutional response to water scarcity and respond to the clear need for financial stability”. Mr. Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan and Mr. Julien Serre, Policy and Strategy Advisor at the European Investment Bank (EIB), after welcoming the participants, took stock of the contribution of their organisations to the theme.

“We are smart enough to share best practices” asserted the Deputy Minister of Environment of the Republic of Albania, H.E. Djana Bejko, while stressing the value of experience sharing and the opportunity that this Conference provides to multiple stakeholders for raising their voices. The Former Minister of Water and Irrigation of Jordan, H.E. Mohammed Najjar, contributed with his reflections on financing water infrastructure in the Mediterranean and shared his country experiences, while H.E. Koussai Quteishat, former Secretary General of the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation, delivered the keynote on the status of water PPP in the Mediterranean highlighting that “projects struggle between bankability and government structure” as frequently projects are not implemented due to either the fact that they are not bankable while there are available financial resources or due to governance bottlenecks that need to be tackled first.

During the second day, the core findings of the Water Policy Dialogues conducted by GWP-Med and the OECD in Jordan and Tunisia were presented by the OECD project team and were complemented by targeted interventions by core Dialogue partners in the two countries. The subsequent session, chaired by Ms. Dionysia Avgerinopoulou, President of the Circle of Mediterranean Parliamentarians for Sustainable Development (COMPSUD), included targeted reflections by representatives of other South Mediterranean countries and explored ways of taking the findings from Jordan and Tunisia forward into the wider Mediterranean region and beyond.

During the event, discussions revolved particularly around mainstreaming cross-cutting issues and ways on how to best integrate them in the water governance and financing nexus; in this context interventions from Civil Society and other international organisations’ representatives focusing on gender, rights, water integrity and stakeholder engagement offered tangible experience-sharing and fruitful insights on how to operationalize the mainstreaming process. Debate and discussions during the Conference focused also on the role of the private sector when it comes to sustainable financing; with the private companies including banks and insurance companies presenting their perspective and giving successful examples when working in financing water and sanitation projects.

The event also discussed the way forward for the second year of the Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector project and reviewed existing synergies, such as the one with the EU-funded project SWIM-SM aiming to strengthen the engagement between water and financing stakeholders and to contribute to the facilitation of the platform for regional dialogue on the governance and financing nexus. It also explored further synergies with other regional actors, initiatives and projects working towards advancing sustainable financing for water and sanitation services, such as the UNECE’s initiative to establish a Centre of Excellence on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Water and Sanitation, the CEO Platform for Green Growth in MENA and the UNDP ‘Global Water Solidarity’ institutional platform for local level water management.

In their closing remarks, both the Head of International Relations and EU Affairs at the Hellenic Ministry of Environment, Ms. Maria Peppa and the UfM Deputy Secretary General for Environment and Water, H.E. Naser Tahboub stressed the need for the continuation of the regional dialogue at Mediterranean level and expressed their anticipation for the outcomes of the UfM labelled project’s national and regional work.  

The next Regional Conference within the Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector project will take place in mid-2015 following up on the conclusions of the first Conference and on sharing the findings of the national Policy Dialogues and work of the project.

The Conference formed an integral part of the activities of the Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector project, officially labelled under the UfM and jointly implemented by GWP-Med and the OECD. It was organised in close cooperation with the EU funded ‘Sustainable Water Integrated Management-Support Mechanism (SWIM-SM)’ project and was supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the European Commission and was conducted in strategic partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the GEF UNEP/MAP MedPartnership programme and the Mediterranean Component of the EU Water Initiative (MED EUWI).

Please find below all relevant documents:

Presentations:

The National Reports, outcomes of the Policy Dialogues conducted by GWP-Med and the OECD in Jordan and Tunisia within the Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector project, are available on the OECD i-library:

  • “Water Governance in Jordan: Overcoming the Challenges to Private Sector Participation”, EN and FR
  • “Water Governance in Tunisia: Overcoming the Challenges to Private Sector Participation”, EN and FR