Regional GroupsOdeh Al Jayyousi, Regional Director of the International Union for the Conservationof Nature (IUCN)A number of regional water entities and programmes like Arab Water Counciland the Arab Water Council for Arab Ministers and a set of regional waterprogrammes (UN, IUCN, FAO, UNDP, UNU, ACWA, GTZ, USAID) all attemptto address water challenges in WANA from different perspectives, i.e. supplyside, demand side, institutional, legal, and human dimension. It should be notedthat water in the last three decades was perceived differently by policy makers,civil society, private sector and donors. These divergent perspectives resulted indifferent policies to address water as an economic good with socio-economicbenefits on one hand a new perspective which looks at water as a human right.These two perspectives from market-led perspective to a civil society perspectiveshould inform and enlighten a new WANA discourse to water in a changingworld and in a globalized economy. For WANA, water for the rural poor, waterfor responsible development and water for human-centred development shouldbe the principled approach to view water management; an approach that strike abalance between people, nature, and economics.There are a number of regional entities in the WANA region (Arab League,ISISCO, GCC, ROPME, and PERSGA) and a set of international organizationssuch as UN agencies, inter-governmental organizations like IUCN, regional civilsociety organizations, media, and donors who influence policy setting andformulation of policies related to sustainable development. However, the regionis constrained by a multitude of factors that induce institutional inertia that limitthe transformative role of regional entities to shape and construct a shared visionand reality for the region. These constraints include: first, the defining role of the“nation-state” model which is a legacy of the post-colonial era which preemptsthe role of an agreed-upon region (MENA, West Asia, Middle East, WESCANA,ESCWA) in terms of forming a unifying vision for sustainable development;second, the competitive nature of the fragmented state model which wasobsessed by national identity, food sufficiency, security and conflict; third, thelimited ability to harmonize and articulate a compelling regional vision and ameta-narrative that link water-energy-food-environment is a globalized marketeconomy; fourth, the poor governance systems in the region which limits
accountability and transparency and the positive role of media, education andcivil society.However, regional grouping in WANA can adapt and adopt the Europeanmodel which is based on common interests (a community of coal and steel) toprovide an enabling environment for articulating and developing a “commonsense” and pragmatic vision that celebrate unity within diversity. The keyprinciples for harnessing the role of these lie in the following attributes andprinciples: emphasis on the core competencies for each country and thecomparative advantage, framing and devising an agreement of regionalintegration model on natural resources (water-energy-food), infrastructure(regional WANA transport system), and complementing and sharing the returnsand results from science and technology and the commercialization of patentsand investing regional ICT and informatics with a region as a unit of analysis.