MENA Focus- Benefits for Ecosystems and Wetlands through the Nexus
In the Mediterranean, wetlands are among its richest ecosystems, providing exceptional value and services including water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. However, they are also among its most threatened ecosystems with more than half having disappeared during the 20th century, and most of the rest under degradation or artificialization, mainly through water over-abstraction, urban development and tourism expansion, pollution and drainage.
The Nexus approach addresses in an integrated manner the inextricable linkages between water resources, food, energy and ecosystems, in order to ensure water and food security, together with sustainable agriculture and energy production and consumption. Wetlands and their environmental service are a typical case of an element connecting ecosystems, water and food production, calling for integrated and inter-sectoral work.
The event will take stock of the needs, challenges, regional initiatives and best practices in the Mediterranean region regarding the sustainable management of wetlands mainly through the Nexus approach with an emphasis on the expected benefits and the replicable experiences .
09:00 Opening Session - Welcoming remarks, context and outline of the session (5mins)
- Mr. Vangelis Constantianos, Executive Secretary, GWP-Med
- Mr. Luís Costa, Programme Manager, Mediterranean Basin, MAVA Foundation
- Mr. Almotaz Abadi, Managing Director, Water and Environment Division, Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat
- H.E. Samir Taieb, Minister of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fishery, Tunisia (tbc)
09:05 Keynote presentations (20mins)
- Coastal wetlands: what investments for what services?
Mr. Frank van Weert, Senior Technical Officer Water and Climate, Wetlands International
- Sustainable management of wetlands in the MENA region through the Nexus approach
Ms. Sarra Touzi, Senior Programme Officer, GWP-Med
09:25 Facilitated Panel Discussion (45mins)
- Ms. Monika Weber-Fahr, Executive Secretary, GWP
- Mr. Job Kleijn, Focal Point, Water Affairs, MENA region, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands
- Mr. Manuel Sapiano, CEO, Energy and Water Agency, Malta
- Ms. Angela Klauschen, Senior Policy Advisor, MedWet
- Ms. Kholoud Al-Ajarma, Programs Manager, Winner of Water Heroes Contest, Lajee Center, Palestine
- Mr. Ger Bergkamp, CEO, ARCOWA
- Ms. Lulwa Saffarini, MINARET Project Manager
Facilitators: Ms. Anthi Brouma, Deputy Regional Coordinator, GWP-Med & Mr. Tassos Krommydas, Senior Programme Officer, GWP-Med
10:10 Open Q&A section (20mins)
During the session, some of the key coastal wetlands in the Mediterranean were presented as well as their importance on biodiversity and on how people benefit from the many services and goods they offer. The Mediterranean Region has lost half its wetlands since 1900 and those that remain are still threatened by pollution, water over-abstraction, poorly treated wastewater, hydropower infrastructure, urban sprawl, conversion to farmland. When managed well, wetlands can help achieve food, water and energy security.
The Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus approach can benefit ecosystems and wetlands, in particular through informing multi-stakeholders’ dialogues to identify Nexus-relevant solutions including nature-based ones. Strong leadership is required to make decisions on potential compromising solutions and trade-offs. Examples were also shared from ongoing initiatives advancing the Nexus approach implementation in region. The Policy Brief ‘Water, Wetlands and Nature-based Solutions in a Nexus Context in the Mediterranean’ developed in the framework of the Off Your Map campaign was also presented.
During the discussion, the following issues were noted and raised:
• Awareness-raising, advocacy and action for and by youth in the Region remains critical
• Coordinated investment mixing & matching public and private funds is needed for wetlands’ protection. The private sector can be part of the solution either through stewardship or profit-making activities (recreation, fishing,…). The insurance sector can also be engaged to reduce risks and costs.
• Inter-institutional arrangements across governmental authorities and agencies are crucial, especially for implementing a Nexus approach
• Parliamentarians also have a role to play as policy decisions makers
• Local authorities are the connecting entities between central governments and citizens, and need assistance to be turned into leaders and catalysts for Nexus transformative projects
• The social component must not be disregarded in the public dialogue
• The Water and the Environment communities need to engage in more and deeper discussions between them
• Wetlands management places a critical aspect of preventing the threats of major environmental dysfunctions. Water and Ecosystems/wetlands communities need to engage more to support policy coherence and catalyse action on the ground.
• It’s crucial to advance the coordinated investments in river basins between the public and the private sector. The smart co-investments look on how to mix and match different types of investments (public funds, private/bank funds, stewardship initiatives).
Relevant initiatives, tools or networks
• “Capacity Building Platform on Water Management and Abstraction”, supported by the MAVA Foundation. Aims to develop a knowledge platform focusing on IWRM and IRBM implementation, mobilizing Nexus and empowering CSOs, basin agencies and governmental bodies to integrate ecosystem approach and WEFE Nexus in planning
• “Communication campaign on the value of coastal wetlands”, supported by the MAVA Foundation. Aims to improve knowledge about the functions and values of Mediterranean coastal wetlands as well as the benefits of an integrated land/sea interface management. More info: www.offyourmap.org
• “Advancing the Nexus Agenda in the region - Nexus Dialogue on the North-Western Sahara Aquifer System” supported by SIDA in synergy with GWP’s Water, Climate and Development Programme Programme. Aims to identify Nexus interlinkages and solutions through a participatory process combining national and transboundary consultations.