IWRM in the Mediterranean

Most Mediterranean countries have embarked upon or are well underway water sector reform processes through the elaboration and/or update/revision of IWRM Plans and Water Strategies, with governance firmly placed at the centrepiece and IWRM forming the guiding framework.

Recent regional political (the Arab Spring) and economic (food and economic crisis) developments present challenges as well as opportunities for inducing further the ingredients necessary for IWRM application. More importantly, the recent socio-political developments have adequately portrayed the urgent need for informed, unrestrained and effective involvement and interaction of stakeholders - whether public or private, state or non-state- in dealing with issues of common interest like the development, (re) allocation and management of scarce water resources.

Despite significant efforts by most Mediterranean countries towards water sector reform, many still suffer from the lack of planning and technical capabilities, effective operational strategies, fragmentation of responsibilities among authorities – including decentralisation concerns, weak policy implementation and limited law enforcement. Furthermore, water strategies and plans (where existing) often do not adequately address national development priorities, financing strategies, adaptation policies and transboundary considerations.

At the regional level, the Mediterranean has a tradition in cooperation and networking schemes, many of which address issues of sustainable development, environmental protection and management of natural resources. Water is a defined priority in the majority of related regional processes e.g. Union for the Mediterranean, Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Barcelona Convention, Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development etc.

The Euro-Mediterranean Turin Plan of Action (1998), the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (2005), the Dead Sea Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Declaration on Water (2008), the draft Strategy for Water in the Mediterraenan (2010) are, among other, major documents shaping the common Mediterranean water policies and practices.

The EU Water Framework Directive (2000) offers an example of application of the IWRM principles in the EU Member States, worthy to explore its adaptation in the the rest of the Mediterranean.


(Photo: Vangelis Constantianos)