Euro-Mediterranean Information System on know-how in the Water sector
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Released 22/08/2006

During the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Rome in November 2005, the Water Directors observed the positive progress of EMWIS activities and wished to continue its implementation by formulating a set of recommendations. These were provided in the form of priorities and broad lines of horizontal actions introduced below with a financing schema for regional activities similar to current financing agreement and with bilateral financing for national structural supports.

In order to supplement these horizontal activities and to make the most of EMWIS, a set of major vertical topics shall be defined to undertake activities for the transfer of know-how leading to tangible results in the Mediterranean Partners Countries (MPCs).

The figure below depicts the overall approach with vertical and horizontal priorities selected by the members of the Steering Committee in May 2006:

Transfer of know-how

EMWIS is an essential vector for the transfer of knowledge, thanks to its broad dissemination and its institutional presence in the Mediterranean countries. Work was especially initiated regarding the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) through a survey involving the Water Directorates and the working groups of the Joint Process with the EU Water Initiative. It evidences the interest of the North and South countries for this type of activity and the validity of the support provided by EMWIS (technical platform, contacts in the countries, institutional support). This work shall be reinforced by focusing on a set of restricted topics to promote methodological convergences (for example regarding Integrated Water Resources Management concepts from the WFD), transfers of know-how and concrete implementations in the partner countries.

Four vertical topics associated with operational objectives for the 2007-2010 period have been defined through dialogue with Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs), by considering national priorities, the existence of know-how in the Euro-Med area, the National Action Plans of the European Neighbourhood Policy, and of priorities defined at the regional level (Millennium Development Goals, Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development, Pollution Control in the Mediterranean). These themes are:
  • Participative approaches in Integrated Water Resources Management
  • Prevention and risk management related to the extreme phenomena (in particular the water scarcity and floods)
  • Non conventional water resources with two sub-topics: the desalination and waste water re-use
  • The local management of sanitation services and the prevention of domestic pollution

The following activities could be undertaken regarding each topic:
  • Creating a working group made up of country representatives and experts:
    • State of the art and analysis of major problems
    • Identification of good practices and formulation of lessons learned
    • Recommendations for implementation in the voluntary countries (including expected impact and follow-up indicators)
  • Supporting experiments in voluntary countries
  • Evaluation and experience sharing

National Water Information Systems

During the Directors’ conference (Rome, November 2005), the Mediterranean Partner Countries expressed their interest in the implementation of National Water Information Systems (NWISs). This kind of tool is, indeed, essential for each country to track national policies and ensure the consistency necessary at the international level, in particular for the MDG 7, the water component of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development, the EU Neighbourhood Policy Agreements or the pollution control in the Mediterranean Sea (Programme Horizon 2020). Studies undertaken during EMWIS phase II (2003-2006) show that countries need assistance to implement their NWIS in order to develop contents with significant added value, parts of which can be made public on EMWIS national web sites. In addition, the NWISs are essential tools for the convergence process with the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). Moreover, the Mediterranean Partner Countries have selected the « monitoring » topic developed in the WFD as a priority for exchange of experiences .

Access to water information

EMWIS, as a distributed information system, is today very popular at the regional level and in each country. EMWIS shall ensure information and knowledge exchange of the Turin Action plan, as defined by the Ministers during the Turin conference (October 1999) and in the regional MEDA programme for local water management (MEDA-Water). This task should be continued beyond the end of the MEDA-Water programme (2007) and could be developed for a better use of results of the numerous EU-funded projects. Available in three languages, it is a unique tool for disseminating information among Euro-Med countries, especially for better information on European initiatives and programmes and to promote dialogue and exchanges between all the countries. Its architecture and contents shall continuously be enhanced and meet the needs of the Euro-Mediterranean stakeholders of the water sector to maintain its federating role.

Water observation mechanism

The implementation of a regional mechanism for following up the progress made in the water sector towards the Millennium Goals and the objectives laid down by the « water » component of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development is in line with the work carried out by the UN Commission for Sustainable Development (New York, April 2005). It also fits in with the European Commission proposal regarding a global monitoring mechanism, which would be based on regional and national mechanisms in order to improve the collection, processing and comparison of reliable information. This mechanism will be implemented liaising with the monitoring working group of the European Union Water Initiative and the European Environment Agency.

The development of this mechanism requires the creation of a Steering Group open to the interested countries and to the bodies directly concerned and of a two-step feasibility study: one part in 2006 “concept definition with a few countries” (financing by the EC and the Member States of EMWIS Technical Unit within the existing contract) and one in 2007 “validation with all the countries” (financing to be defined).

Euro-Med Forum of the Water Directors

The Euro-Med Forum of the Water Directors, regularly convened by EMWIS, provides an appropriate structure for meeting the needs of the various international initiatives (e.g. of the European Union: Med-EUWI, MEDA-Water; or of the United Nations Mediterranean Action Plan –UNEP MAP-) in terms of Consultative or Steering Group for the definition of priorities, validation of proposals, implementation follow-up and evaluation of results. At first, it is necessary to define its role in coordination with the Mediterranean component of the EU Water Initiative, then to ensure its implementation. A more sustained pace for these Forum meetings will have to be found as well as for the meetings of the EMWIS Steering Committee.