The countries in the southern Mediterranean receive a mere 10% of the total annual average rainfall, while more than 180 million people in the region are considered water poor (the available amount of water is less than 1000 m3 of renewable water per capita per year) and an additional 60 million face water stress (the available amount of water is less than 500 m3of renewable water per capita per year). Rapid demographic growth and urbanisation trends, coupled with resource-intensive socioeconomic development, place additional pressures on scarce resources and fragile ecosystems.
Water availability becomes less reliable
Agriculture is by far the largest water user (in some cases accounting for 80-90% of water use), despite the challenges particularly for the rural areas in domestic water supply. Adding to the complexity, many water bodies are shared by two or more countries, while the impact of climate change is becoming more tangible. Extreme events like drought and floods are becoming more frequent and water availability less reliable.
Given this context, there is an urgent need for action in order to integrate water management in national development plans, enhance the water sensitivity of and promote water considerations within cross-sectoral policies, and mainstream climate change adaptation into IWRM planning. This necessitates developing appropriate tools, building capacity, raising public awareness and promoting water-sensitive environmental education, as well as setting up water partnerships at regional and national levels.
Instrumental in developing the Vision for Water
Since its establishment, GWP Mediterranean has been instrumental in developing the Vision for Water in the region and the 2000 Framework for Action for Water. Since 2001, GWP Mediterranean has been facilitating dialogues on national IWRM planning, effective water governance, water and climate, water demand management, water financing and the involvement of the private sector, as well as river basin management and transboundary water resources management in order to promote IWRM practices. To tackle water-related issues in the region, GWP Mediterranean facilitates a multi-stakeholder regional water partnership that brings together major Mediterranean networks of different water disciplines and over 80 other organisations, institutions and companies. It seeks and facilitates multi-stakeholder engagement and donor support for dialogue and action to promote IWRM at national and regional levels, and it makes the principles of sustainable water use and IWRM widely recognised and applied by sharing information and experience. In addition, GWP Mediterranean actively participates in several region-wide initiatives, including the recent elaboration of the new Strategy for Water in the Mediterranean within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean. Moreover, GWP Mediterranean acts as the technical facilitator for a number of regional processes, such as the Mediterranean Component of the EU Water Initiative, the joint Petersberg Phase II/Athens Declaration Process, the Global Environment Fund (GEF) Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean–Large Marine Ecosystems, to name a few.