Tangible steps forward for the UfM Water Agenda & Financial Strategy

A set of structured and operational meetings took place on 3-4 May 2018, in Brussels, in the premises of the European Commission, with the aim to progress on the work of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Water Agenda and its Financial Strategy.

Mandated by the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting (April 2017, Malta), the UfM Water Expert Group (WEG) has been working on developing a Water Agenda for the region along with a Financial Strategy to support its implementation. At the last WEG Meeting (1 February 2018, Dead Sea, Jordan), Task Forces were set up for each of the four themes of the Water Agenda [Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus (Nexus); Water-Employment-Migration (WEM); Water, Supply and Sanitation (WASH); Climate Change Adaptation and Water], with one more dedicated to the Financial Strategy.

Gathering a total of about 40 participants, including WEG members, financial institutions and regional organisations, the Brussels events o signalled the first operational meetings of the Task Forces.

The first day was dedicated to the discussions on the Financial Strategy, aimed as a policy guidance document for putting the Mediterranean water sector on a financially sustainable footing. It is not intended to be a resource mobilisation or fundraising strategy, but rather an instrument to provide relevant guidance for these objectives. Following a presentation on context and suggested outline, the discussion on the Financial Strategy debated the structure of the document, agreed on contributions by Task Force members, and fixed the calendar of next steps towards the Strategy’s delivery and approval by the UfM countries. The day concluded with targeted interventions by country representatives on elements that can facilitate the elaboration of the Strategy, while a presentation of the UfM-labelled Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector regional project shared findings and lessons learnt on sustainable water financing, including the role of the private sector.

The second day contained the meetings of the Task Forces for three out of the four themes, namely Nexus; WEM; and WASH; the Climate Change Adaptation Water Task Force will be formed in the short period ahead. Holding these meetings at the same time aimed to enhance coordination of their work and potential cross-fertilisation across themes. The different sessions discussed the elementary concept notes for each of the Themes, exchanging and comparing experiences and agreeing on contributions by the members. Each group discussed milestones in the respective processes, including the completion of the related thematic chapters of the long-term WEG Work Programme and of the respective WEG Work Plan for 2018-2019. Linking the progress of work with other contributions and opportunities for synergy was strongly supported; for example, the Regional Nexus Roundtable, to be organised in Beirut, in autumn by GWP-Med in the framework of the Sida-supported regional ‘Med Water Matchmaker’ project, is expected to form a key contribution in the work of the Nexus Task Force as well as an opportunity for its next working meeting. 

The work of the Task Forces is ongoing, translating into targeted actions within the WEG bi-annual Work Plans. Technical and facilitation support in the overall process has been steadily provided by GWP-Med, before and after the 2017 UfM Ministerial Water Conference and thereafter for the work of the WEG, with expertise and organisational contributions targeting specifically the Nexus, WEM and Financial Strategy development.