EMWIS Flash n°129, July /August 2016 – Euro-Mediterranean Information System on Know-How in the Water Sector

The EMWIS Flash gives regular and quality information on the water sector in the Euro-Mediterranean area. The main headlines are: Institutions, Documentation, Training, Research and Development, Data Administration. You will also find updates on: international events, relevant web sites, the Euro-Med Water programme of the European Commission, and much more ...

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1- The International Conference on Water and Climate, “Water Security for Climate Justice”, organised under the umbrella of COP22 in Rabat, 11-12 July 2016 was a large success with 650 participants from 40 countries. The conference stressed the urgent need to take into account the adaptation of water resource to climate change in this new intergovernmental framework approved during COP21: Paris Agreement and Agenda for Action. The importance of reliable data organised within shared water information systems was underlined and a central point of discussion in all the sessions: water vulnerability, water-energy-food-health-education alliance, financing mechanism for water sector adaptation, Ministerial round table on right to water in Africa. The conclusions of the conference will be presented by the Moroccan and French authorities in charge of the Presidency of COP21 and COP22 to the international community and all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for water to be taken into account in their work and decisions.

2- In the framework of the MEDCOP Climat held in Tangier (Morocco) on 18 and 19 July 2016, the thematic water session “Challenges of Water/Energy/Food Security Alliance  to face Climate Change” was organised on Monday 18 July afternoon to come up with the best Mediterranean solution in the water sector as a Mediterranean recommendation for the COP22. The Mediterranean Water Knowledge Platform together with the “Water-energy-food security nexus mainstreaming into policies and institutions in the MENA Region” were presented and discussed. A general agreement was reached among the 70 participants to integrate the 2 solutions into a unique one. Indeed, they both tackle the governance challenges with an interdisciplinary approach, the Nexus requires data that can be provided by the Knowledge Platform and the WEF nexus can be part of the white papers to be developed as a product of the platform to support decision making for water planning. Finally, it was felt that the nexus should be renamed as Alliance to be more positive and extended to other sector, covering at least the environment and potentially health.

3- Hosted and organized by SIWI, World Water Week in Stockholm is the leading annual global event for concretely addressing the planet’s water issues and related concerns of international development. The 2016 World Water Week is carried out under the theme “Water for Sustainable Growth” (28 August – 2 September, 2016 – Stockholm). Leaders and experts from the world’s scientific, business, government and civic communities convene in Stockholm to exchange views, experiences and shape joint solutions to global water challenges. The latest World Water Week attracted over 3,000 participants and 300 convening organisations from 130 countries all over the world. Functioning as an open and dynamic platform, the World Water Week enables participants to build capacity, form partnerships and review implementation, thereby advancing the world’s water, environment, health, livelihood and poverty reduction agendas.

4- The Southern shores of the Mediterranean are among the world’s most water-scarce areas, with more than 150 million people facing water stress. According to the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), this figure is set to rise by a further 80-100 million by 2025. The effects of climate change, including more extreme phenomena like droughts and floods, are likely to exacerbate the situation, both in the south and north of the Mediterranean. To cope with the demand resulting from the region’s rapid population growth and diversified economies, an important set of water and wastewater projects are planned with over $116.9bn worth of across the region.  Some ongoing initiative or major impact projects focus on this main regional priority, such as the H2020 initiative to depollute the Mediterranean, which aims to tackle 80% of pollution loading by 2020 or the UN Water Security and the Global Water Agenda, which is designed around the four pillars of water governance, water and climate change adaptation, water demand management and water financing. A dedicated forum on water organised during the 10th Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders (Barcelona, 30th Nov. – 2nd Dec. 2016) will tackle these issues. The event will explore programmes rolled out including a region wide integrated water resource management strategy, demand management, water generation, wastewater treatment and reuse projects, as well as international best practice implemented to achieve water efficiency and sustainability. A total of 9 thematic forums will be held during these 3 days, including the Mediterranean Hotels Forum, human capital, start-up, ….

5- The Steering Committee Meeting of the EU funded SWIM and Horizon 2020 – Support Mechanism (SWIM-H2020 SM) that will be held in Brussels on 27-28 September 2016. It will bring together the SWIM and H2020 Focal Points from the Partner Countries, in addition to representatives of the European Commission, international organisations and project representatives and donor agencies. The 6th Meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Water Expert Group will probably be organised back to back with this Steering Committee Meeting to review the status of the roadmap on water issues in the Mediterranean prepared by the water drafting group of the UfM. The Steering Committee Meeting is organised with the aim of: i) providing an overview of the Inception Phase of SWIM-H2020 SM and obtaining feedback from the country Focal Points on priorities for action, ii) promoting constructive dialogue and consultation on the Project’s activities and iii) finalizing and approving of the Workplan of the SWIM and Horizon 2020 SM Project, iv) discussing the next steps into the Project’s implementation. The aims of SWIM-H2020 SM is to assist the Partner countries in their sustainable water management and reduced marine pollution.

6- On 18- 19 July Tanger has taken over the debate on the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. It hosted the MedCOP Climate conference, the forum of state and non-state stakeholders in the Mediterranean was attended by some 7000 participants from 22 countries and organized in preparation of the COP22 in Marrakesh.The MedCOP lead to the adoption of the Tanger Declaration, a set of climate resolutions advocating for a collective mobilisation of Mediterranean countries and the “need to build and carry a common Mediterranean vision” to Marrakesh for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) next November. The Declaration establishes priority lines of action in several areas such as water, energy, food security and protection of the marine and coastal environment, including biodiversity, fisheries and tourism. Ségolène Royal (French Minister of Environment) underlined the urgency for action in the Mediterranean in particular in the field of water with a strong focus on water information systems.

7- An annual report released online  by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) compiled by hundreds of scientists from 62 countries, finds that 2015 was the warmest year since at least the mid to late 19th century. The year also marked several other milestones, from a record carbon concentration to an unusual number of tropical storms and a global sea level highest on record. The report found that most indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet. Several markers such as land and ocean temperatures, sea levels and greenhouse gases broke records set just one year prior.

8- According to the Global Footprint Network, on August 8, 2016 humanity has consumed all the resources that the planet can renew in a year. This date marks the Earth Overshoot day. The day is declared every year by Global Footprint Network, a nonprofit research group that focuses on sustainability. The first Earth Overshoot Day was in Oct. 2006. It’s been creeping up the calendar ever since, landing on Aug. 19 in 2014, and just last year, reaching Aug. 13. The earlier Earth Overshoot Day falls, the more rapidly we’ve been using the planet’s natural resources.

9- The new Horizon 2020 (EU’s research and innovation) Work Programme for SC5 is now available and a budget of almost ?400 million out of the total of ?8.5 billion is dedicated to research and innovation in Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials sectors for 2017. On 25 July 2016 the European Commission announced an investment of ?8.5 billion to be released during 2017 into research and innovation, following an update to the Work Programme of Horizon 2020. The funding opportunities offered by the Work Programme are directly aligned with the policy priorities of the Commission and will substantially contribute to the Jobs, Growth and Investment Package, the Digital Single Market, Energy Union and Climate change policy, Internal Market with stronger industry and making Europe a stronger global actor. In line with strategic priorities of Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Horizon 2020 will be open to innovation, open to science, and open to the world.

10- 14th International Conference “EUROPE-INBO 2016” for the implementation of European Directives on water, will be held in Lourdes France from 19 to 22 October 2016.  Established within INBO in 2003 in Valencia, Spain, the “EUROPE-INBO” Group of European Basin Organizations for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD – 2000/60/EC) aims at enriching the implementation of water policies in Europe, especially the Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) with its practical field experience to support the Candidate Countries and disseminate the principles and tools of European water-related Directives, including to EU neighbouring partner countries in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and the Mediterranean. As part of INBO, the Central and Eastern European Network of Basin Organizations (CEENBO), the Mediterranean Network of Basin Organizations (MENBO), and the new Network of Basin Organizations of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA – NBO), facilitate, in their respective regions, the exchanges of experience and discussions on basin management in an enlarged European context.
The top topics of EUROINBO 2016 will be:
*Workshop on “Circular Economy and Wastewater Reuse”
*Workshop SAID project: Smart water management
*Presentation of the French Water Governance
*Objectives of the 2016 Budapest Water Summit
*Preparation of COP22 and follow-up of the “Paris Pact” on Water
The conference will conclude with the approval of the Lourdes Declaration.

11- The Euromed Cities Network will be held from 2nd to 4th November 2016 in Nice (France) with the participation of the European Commissioner Johannes HAHN in charge of the European Neighbourhood Policy. During this event, OIEAU and SEMIDE will organise a session dedicated to water management for sustainable Mediterranean cities. In order to prepare for the workshop a questionnaire was prepared and will remain open up to October 1. The results of the survey will allow, on one hand, to identify cities to be invited for presenting their experiences, and on the other hand, to propose topics for the development of pilot projects that could receive international funding.

12- The water stress (where the human or ecological demand for water is not met) is caused by a variety of factors. There’s the physical scarcity of water due to lack of rainfall, the natural aridity of the area and, increasingly, changes in climate; but poor management and investment in water infrastructure, and pollution, also play their parts. The problem affects an estimated 2.7 billion people for at least one month of every year, across every continent – and is particularly pressing in cities as the global urban population grows. At present, almost four billion people live in cities, with a further 2.5 billion expected to join them by 2050.It doesn’t rain much in the Middle East either, and nor are there many freshwater sources. Indeed, the top five countries with the lowest renewable freshwater resources per person are all in that region: Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar.

13- PRIMA fosters joint research and innovation activities among Mediterranean countries, aiming at developing innovative and sustainable solutions in agriculture, food production and water provision, encouraging application by communities, enterprises and citizens. 4PRIMA is a support action financed by the European Commission to prepare the implementation of PRIMA activities. It brings together the main national research funding owners and/or managers involved in the PRIMA joint programming process, including the non-European participating states and their institutions, around a jointly designed Strategic Research Agenda with appropriate governance and implementation structures. The 4PRIMA web site, released in July 2016, is the entry point for all stakeholders interested in research and innovation for agriculture and water. Consultation mechanisms have been launched with a survey  on PRIMA objectives priorisation (that will remain open up to 30 September) and a first stakeholders consultation on prioritization of PRIMA Objectives to be held in Barcelone on 1st September back to back with a PRIMA General Assembly.

14- In the Mediterranean region, dams play an essential role for irrigation, drinking water supply, energy production and flood risk regulation; however, the optimal management of dam functions is complex in particular for multi-purpose dams and interlinked dams. In this context, SAID project proposes a set of tools and monitoring networks based on the concept of a platform for integrated management of water infrastructures which includes flood risk control, water quality, energy management. On 19 July Said project has published a video in three languages (English, Spanish, French), the video gives detailed information about the project and its results: monitoring network and a set of Decision Support Systems that can be applied as stand alone tools and as an integrated online application. The tools will be presented during a dedicated session at the Euro-INBO 2016 conference in Lourdes (France) on  19 October 2016 (13:00-1600). Click here to watch the video.

15- With an increasing frequency of drought due to climate change, irrigated agriculture is facing a double challenge to stay competitive: scarce water resources and energy costs. Indeed irrigation requires not only water but also electricity for pumping. In Spain, electricity consumption for irrigation represents 3% of the national consumption with a strong pressure on the electricity grid as it is concentrated during summer period. WEAM4i project (Water & Energy Advanced Management for Irrigation) has developed tools to help irrigation communities to optimise irrigation taking into account climate variables and crop requirements as well as energy costs. On September 20th – 23rd 2016, WEAM4i consortium will hold a several meetings, including a public workshop to discuss results achieved in Spanish demonstration sites in Aragon (Comunidad General de Regantes del Canal de Bardenas).

EMWIS is an initiative of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. It provides a strategic tool for exchanging information and knowledge in the water sector between and within the Euro Mediterranean partnership countries.

16- Between the 4th and 9th of July 2016, the SWOS project (Satellite based Wetland Observation Service) was actively involved in the developments of the Open Science Conference and All Hands Meeting of GEO BON that took place in Leipzig, Germany. Several SWOS partners were present and gave presentations in different sessions of the conference. The University of Bonn co-chaired a workshop centred around the development of a Global Wetlands Observing System (GWOS) while the project partners presented the relevant products including data, indicators, tools, and methodologies developed by SWOS that can be used to support the GWOS initiative and the Freshwater Information Platform.

17- on 12 August 2016, the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea has produced a Knowledge Platform, which serves as a valuable online resource for sharing best environmental practices and climate-related techniques and approaches. The Knowledge Platform was set up to provide opportunities for those who have developed good practices, to share them thank to this knowledge base and to network with potential replicators. The platform is aimed at all public and private entities that plan to invest in the environment, using replicable methods, techniques and models that have already been tested at the local level. Today, the knowledge base contains information from many significant projects through a range of programmes, including LIFE, that have demonstrated a wide variety of innovative environmental methodologies and have contributed to the knowledge base for implementing EU legislation as well as informing policy-making. The online resource is linked to the portal of the Italian Ministry of Environment, which contains the technical detail of these good practices and their impact. The website features a section on national and EU environmental legislation, and one on funding programmes that provide grants for environmental and climate-related actions. The platform will also allow visitors to stay informed about the latest environmental technologies in key areas.

18- Blue Passport is an initiative of the International Secretariat for Water (ISW) in partnership with the International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO) and institutions involved locally and interested in disseminating this awareness tool. July 15 in Agadir, the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries, Aziz Akhannouch, the Minister Delegate in Charge of Water: Charafat Afailal, and the Director General of the National Agency for the development of oasis zones and Argan: Brahim Hafidi, received this award in recognition of their involvement in the protection, conservation and water management. This ceremony was held on the sidelines of the conference on the theme “valuation of irrigation water for better adaptation to climate change: achievements and prospects of the Green Morocco Plan”.

19- In July, the African Water Facility (AWF) announced relaunching the “Water 2050” project with a donation of more than ? 1.3 million. The new project’s roadmap meets the requirements of the new Tunisian Constitution: the access right to water for all citizens, conservation and sustainable water management,  positive discrimination in favor of disadvantaged regions and decentralization and local governance. The total cost of the project is  2.655 million euros, co-financed by three organization: 1.345 million euros paid by the AWF, a minimum of 0.95 million euros from the German Development Bank (KfW) and 281,000 euros from the German technical cooperation agency (GTZ). This project is part of the 2012-2016 strategy of the African Water Facility, which aims among others at providing the necessary basis for the preparation of detailed investment plans for water, agriculture and Regional development. The Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries will be responsible for implementing the project, and the government is committed to participate with at least 79 000 euros.

20- The direction of water resources in the wilaya of Constantine (Algeria) has allocated 10 billion dinars as a public investment to improve water supply and sanitation in the province. This budget has been mobilized to support the water supply in rural municipalities of Ain Abid, Ben Badis, and also in the daïras concerned by urban extensions  as  the Daira of El Khroub. This investment aims to improve the quality of life of the population with 120 km of new pipes,  10 reservoirs and 10 pumping stations will be set-up in the framework of this project.

21- On 13 July 2016 Hamma Water Desalination SpA algeria, was selected as the winner of the OPIC Impact Award in the critical infrastructure category, offers a good example of how OPIC provides valuable support for this sort of major infrastructure project that requires large investments of time and money. In Algeria, where the Sahara meets the Mediterranean, sea water is abundant but drinking water is scarce. By using reverse osmosis technology, the Hamma plant has transformed sea water, a resource that is abundant but unusable in its natural form, into the most essential substance of human life. Today it provides clean drinking water to hundreds of thousands of families in and around Algiers.

22- In a huge victory for the Right2Water movement in Europe, the Slovenian National Assembly has voted to begin the process of amending the constitution to include the right to ‘safe drinking water.’ This follows 55,000 Slovenians, nearly 3% of the entire population, signing a petition in favour of including the right to water in the constitution. The text proposed by a commission set up to draft the constitutional amendment, and approved on Tuesday 12 July, states that drinking water ‘should not be treated as a commodity’ and defines drinking water provision as a ‘non-profit public service’. The wording should protect water services for citizens from any future liberalisation initiated by the European Commission. It marks a big success for the trade unions and NGOs which have campaigned, both in Slovenian and across Europe, for the recognition of water as a human right that must be protected from privatisation.

23- To deal with the water deficit, Malta has  been so far able to find ways to control the situation. Three desalination plants have been built since the 1980s. The concept is to pump sea water and purify  it through reverse osmosis, a purification technique with a very fine filtering system. These plants have become the second largest source of water in the country after the groundwater, but they consume considerable amount of energy. In 2014, 4% of the country’s electricity was used by the desalination systems (the cost of electricity on the archipelago is also the most expensive of the 28 EU countries). Now, Malta priority on reusing treated waste water as resource for irrigation as well as reducing the demand in this sector.

24-In the framework of the Solid Waste Management programme funded by the European Union, HE the Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Nabil De Freige, and the Head of the Sustainable Development section at the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Marcello Mori, launched on 12 July the training workshops on solid waste management. The ceremony was attended by the representative of the Minister of Interior and Municipalities, the Director General for Local Councils and Municipalities Judge Omar Hamze, and the municipalities that benefited from the programme. This training represents the first ever activity that reflects synergy between two EU-funded projects, MUFIN (Support to Municipal Finance Reform – Capacity Building component) and SWAM (Solid Waste Management). Participants were provided with basic knowledge on solid waste management, including an overview of the operations and maintenance process in the solid waste management plants.

25- The Lebanese government is launching a project with a USD55 million loan from the World Bank to reduce the pollution flowing into Lake Qaraoun. This is a first step in a larger effort estimated at US$250 million, according to the Government’s Plan for Combating Pollution of the Qaraoun Lake. “Today millions of cubic meters of raw sewage flow directly into the Litani river. The project will construct sewage networks and connect them to wastewater treatment plants (such as Zahlé) so that sewage gets treated before it is discharged in the Litani river. That way, not only we reduce the pollution entering the river but make treated water available for irrigation” explains Maria Sarraf, World Bank Lead Environment Specialist and Project Team Leader. “This is part of Lebanon’s National Strategy for the Wastewater Sector which aims at increasing wastewater collection, treatment and the reuse of treated water.” The project also aims to decrease pollution from agricultural chemicals and pesticides by promoting reduced use of fertilizer and integrated pest management practices among large farmers located close to the Litani River. In addition, the project will fund cleanup campaigns to remove garbage that has been dumped into the Lake.

26- The Jordanian Water Ministry announced on Monday  8 August that its teams have dismantled illegal fixtures used to steal water in Qastal and Saru, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. The ministry received information that suspects had illegally installed pipelines to siphon water from the main carrier lines to irrigate farms and supply pools. In Qastal, some 30km south of Amman, a 300-metre illegal plastic pipeline was detected, while in Saru, in Salt, a pipe had been broken to allow water to flow to areas used for livestock. Authorities fixed the pipe in Saru, where they also removed a 600-metre illegal pipe used to siphon water to irrigate a farm. The suspected violator was referred to court. The ministry cooperated with the Jordan Water Authority and security agencies to curb the violations.The ministry stressed that it will continue to conduct inspection campaigns to detect any violations. It urged the public to continue cooperating with the authorities by reporting any violations against the water networks. Water theft is recognised as an economic crime under articles 3 and 4 of the Economic Crimes Law. The amended Water Authority of Jordan Law stipulates stiffer penalties against those who abuse any element of the water system.

27- Ségolène Royal announced that the online consultation on the draft National Strategy for the sea and coastal areas is open to the public until 2 October 2016, allowing everyone to participate in the development of an ambitious maritime policy for France. This strategy will set a solid framework to improve the preservation of maritime resources and facilitate jobs creation. The consultation draft is based on the action plan for blue growth and climate developed for several months with all stakeholders in 3 steps: 1. Consideration of the ocean for the first time in the climate negotiations during COP21; 2. The mobilization of all stakeholders (NGOs, unions, scientists, businesses …) in the two National Conferences for the Ocean (August 31, 2015 and April 8, 2016) and the National Council sea and coast (April 8 2016); 3. The Mediterranean plan for Blue Growth and Climate, launched on 27 June: reducing pollution, sanitation, renewable energy, marine protected areas, support for maritime professions …

28- French groundwater level at 1 August 2016 is heterogeneous from one region to another. More than three quarters of the reservoirs (83%) have a normal or above normal. The situation shows that much of the territory continues to benefit from the exceptional recharge related to intense rainfall events of May, June. The largest part the Parisian basin, the north and east have higher than normal levels. The South East is itself deficient in terms of charging. Roussillon and PACA even have quite adverse situations.

29- The EU-funded Technical Assistance Project to the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW) held its annual conference in Cairo. The event aimed at updating different stakeholders on the project’s progress and key milestones. The EU has allocated EUR 2.4 million grant for this project. Ambassador James Moran, Head of the EU Delegation to Egypt said “the EU has a steadfast commitment to work with Egypt in this vital area”. He added: “water is a key to sustainable development. Egypt faces major challenges: to name but one, over 40 million have no access to sanitation. Best practice and the application of new technology are essential for a better planning for the future and I am confident these talks will make a major contribution to that”. The 24-months project is implemented by a consortium of European and Egyptian consulting firms and provides technical assistance to HCWW and 23 Affiliate Companies.

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