Building on the success of its previous two editions, the Cairo Water Week 2020 was held for the third time in a hybrid format in the period 18-22 October 2020. Under the overarching theme Water Security for Peace and Development in Arid Regions - The Road to Dakar 2021, it brought together key institutions from the Arab world, Europe and Africa, and more than 1200 participants from across the globe.
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The EU-UfM Water Governance & Business Forum (19 October, 09:30-15:30 CET) was organised in a hybrid format (physical and virtual) by the EU Delegation in Egypt and the Union for Mediterranean (UfM) Secretariat, was technically facilitated by GWP-Med and financially supported by the EU and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
The Forum was inaugurated by the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel Atty, the Ambassador of the EU to Egypt, Christian Berger, and the Secretary-General of the UfM, Ambassador Nasser Kamel, who affirmed their commitment to step up regional cooperation and efforts to support the sustainability of the Mediterranean water sector, as well as to strengthen the resilience of societies in a collective multi-stakeholder approach.
With due reference to the conclusions from the Forum’s first edition in 2019, and bringing together over 60 participants from Mediterranean and EU countries, representing governments, IFIs, civil society, regional and international organisations, this year’s event discussed national and regional financial responses to the pandemic, providing brief updates and discussing planned activities in the implementation of the UfM Water Policy Framework for Actions 2030 and the EU Green Deal, in the background of COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts. The exchanges concerned also activities by financial partners that aim to encourage water financing and investments in the region, with a special focus on the EU-Egypt cooperation in the water sector that aims to help Egypt overcome water scarcity.
The Forum also sounded the ground for a WEFE Nexus market in the Mediterranean region and with a post-COVID-19 outlook. Successful and potentially replicable business cases within the region were shared, while linkages for action were created with the new EU Green Economy agenda and the ongoing work of financial partners, eventually aligning with the European Green Deal as a roadmap for sustainable and resilient post-COVID recovery.
With the motto of the meeting being ‘synergies and more synergies’, and serving as a technical follow-up to the UfM Ministerial Conference on Water, the Forum discussed potential partnership opportunities from the "European External Investment Plan" (EIP) and the "European Sustainable Fund for Development" (EFSD) within the Mediterranean region, and ways to enhance cooperation and coordination in the Euro-Mediterranean region among UfM, the EU, and IFIs. The high-level Forum dealt with the Mediterranean water files and the sustainable finance of water infrastructure, and its conclusions are expected to inform the future programming of EU support to Egypt and the North African region.