Merabtene - innovations to mainstreaming ws in policy agenda


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Merabtene - innovations to mainstreaming ws in policy agenda

  1. 1. Re-thinking Policies to Cope with Water Scarcity A Policy Brief based on the Expert Group Meeting-WANA Forum: “Water Scarcity and the supranational Policy Imperatives”Chapter 3:Innovations to Mainstreaming Water Scarcity in the Policy AgendaContributing Author: Dr. Tarek MerabteneLast Updated: January 17, 20113.1IntroductionWater scarcity in the West Asia-North Africa WANAregion is an acknowledged reality by the governmentsin the region (Figure 1). Nevertheless, theeffectiveness of exciting policies to cope with excitingwater scarcity in the WANA region is by far below theanticipated goals to achieve the millenniumdevelopment goals by the year 2015. Figure 1. Projected water scarcity in 2025 (prepared by IWMI for the world waterUnlike catastrophic water hazards (such as severe vision, Hague 2000).flood) with instantly recognizable negative impacts, Source: IWMI, http://iwmi.orgwater scarcity is a malign disaster, if not properlydiagnosed and treated from the first stage of the chaos it will propagate to damage all sectors ofwater resources management. The challenges and threats imposed by the prospected newdimensions of water scarcity driven by future climate uncertainties and climate change, decliningwater sources availability, degradation of water quality and inadequate water management willrequire from all governments in the region to bring water scarcity management high in thepolitical agenda. Countries failing to do so will amplify their vulnerability to water scarcity, willweaken their resiliency to water disasters, and will lag behind to respond to the future waterdemands imposed by the paradigm shift of our cities and social dependency on water.3.2 Mainstreaming water scarcity in the policy agenda: Challenges and opportunities3.2.1 Absence of institutional body specialized in water scarcity issuesWater scarcity management requires integrated management approach involving all waterpartners (i.e., policy makers, water professionals, academia, public and private sectors). Theformulation of such an approach can only be achieved by bringing all the water partners under aunified policy think-tank. The immediate challenge that must be addressed by our countries in theWANA region is the institutional fragmentation of responsibilities and uncoordinated actionsdirectly or indirectly affecting policy progress in water scarcity management within the waterdevelopment sectors. The way forward can be achieved throw institutional bodies specialized inwater scarcity management at both national and regional levels. 1
  2. 2. At country level the institutional body will have the responsibility to:- Categorize and define the spans of the water scarcity issues at country level.- Play leading role in indentify the specific country indicators that can be used to properly.- Reinforce the collection, exchange and availability of water scarcity related data and indicators.- Improve communication on water scarcity related measures and policies.- Enhance transparency and liability in the decision making processes undertaken by individual water sectors’ developers.- Development of scientifically sound scenarios on future development in cooperation with the academia has to be improved particularly at the regional and the local level.At the WANA regional level the institutional body specialized in water scarcity will play a bigrole to:- The development of recommendations and regulations for investors of the private sector provides numerous possibilities for action. Therefore, it is fundamental to explore opportunities and value the judgments and actions of water development sectors into one framework from which managers can draw valuable lessons that could bring water scarcity management high in the political agenda.- Share data and information on adopted national policies, explore opportunities to transfer national know-how, expertise and best practices in policies for water scarcity management to other countries in the region.- Identify and develop regional water scarcity management indicators.- Identify regional gaps in expertise, human capacities, management and operational weaknesses and deficiencies.- Review and promote current strengths and capacities to adapt and evolve with the future challenges and implications of water scarcity.- Investigate the creation of flexible funding mechanisms to promote national and regional actions.3.2.2 Ambiguous identification of conflicting users and poor involvement of stakeholdersPolicy based on crisis management or “crisis driven” approach is a narrow vision of the dynamicchallenges of water scarcity. The debate about the advantages and disadvantages of each policyoption can help lead to the most widely acceptable choices. Therefore, governments must enableregulation that compel policy leaders and policy makers to involve all related entities from thepublic and private sectors in drafting new policies for water scarcity management.3.2.3 Ambiguous categorization and poor valuation of the real dimensions of water scarcity tailored to the WANA regionPoor definition and ambiguous categorization of water scarcity in the mind of policy makers willhamper any tentative to re-think policies to cope and mitigate water scarcity at country level aswell as cooperative actions at regional levels. In other words, to mainstream water scarcity in thepolicy agenda, it is never enough to provide policy makers with a general figure on the state ofwater scarcity without detailed breakdown on the shortcoming of current policies. TheFalkenmark Water Stress Index (Falkenmark 1989) is one of the earliest measures of waterscarcity still used today. Based on this index a country is classified water scarce based on a 2
  3. 3. threshold of 1000 m3 per capita per year developed based on a per capita minimum of 100 litersper day. It is worth noting that beside the valuable and informative outcome for which thewater scarcity index was originally developed, the index has number of scientific andstrategic shortcomings. Scientifically the index was not designed to reflect local realities orcapture the new dimensions and challenges of water scarcity. Furthermore, the index figuredoes not provide information about the geographical, seasonal or social distribution of the waterscarcity within the country and the region. Strategically the outcome of the index may be usedas descriptive of potential situation and general state of water scarcity but yet it cannot beused by policy makers to assess the effectiveness of adopted policies or to drive a decisionmaking process and/or innovative measures to address the particularities of water scarcity atcountry and regional levels.Way forward: Development of water scarcity policy effectiveness indexAlthough the water scarcity index (and its derivative versions developed to date) can provideadequate information regarding the general state of water stress and water scarcity, their role aspolicy tools is limited, particularly at country or regional level. Nevertheless, the large acceptanceof the index (and its derivatives versions) among water professionals and policy makers, clearlysupport the valuable role that indicators development plays in mainstreaming policies.The way forward is clearly define and improve categorization of water scarcity issues. It ispossible to achieve that through the development, under a common working framework, a policyindex to assess the effectiveness of adopted policies in coping with water scarcity. The policyeffectiveness index shall be based on clear national and regional targets backed by clear set ofrelevant indicators that can be adapted and tailored to the countries specifications with regards tocurrent and prospected water scarcity issues in the region.The process of developing the policy effectiveness index will play a useful role in identifyingthe form, category and trends of water scarcity indicators, and contributing to the processof priority setting, policy formulation and evaluation and monitoring of progress. It shouldbe emphasized that indicators should ideally be developed as part of the overall policy andplanning process, if they are to have policy relevance and practical application.3.2.4 Declining of innovative options to increase water resources availability and options to improve water useFailure to achieve progress in water governance under currently adopted policies will havetremendous impact on the political will to further engage in water scarcity management. The timeset by countries of the WANA region to meet the MDGs is coming to end, still very progress tocope with water scarcity issues have been achieved to date. The major handicap to achieve thegoal is undoubtedly the lack of innovative options to tackle specific issues of water scarcity andwater governance in general. The geographical setting and climatic diversity in the WANA 3
  4. 4. The WANA countries must engage in revolutionary cooperation to define innovative options onpolicies for water conservation, water use, water restoration, and grey water and wastewaterrecycling.Way ahead: Budget allocation for research and technology on water scarcity managementoptions- The development and promotion of strategic plans for Private Public Partnership is enormously important to advocate private investment in water technology and research related to water scarcity management.- Linking applied technologies and policies: Policy shortcomings and absence of legal policy that stimulates the development of water efficiency technologies mean that many existing technologies that make more efficient use of water will not be fully employed. The engagement of private partnership with policy making will ensure that key policies (such as protection of intellectual property rights and enhancing regulations) are implemented. Falling to do that will create a vicious circle where the formulation of innovative policies would decline as a result of declining innovative and tangible options to move water scarcity management forward and vice versa. Murray-Darling Basin in south-eastern Australia, is a valuable case study example of efficient enabling policy environment (i.e., a drop of 70 per cent in water availability has had virtually no impact on agricultural production).3.2.5 Insignificant public awareness for sustainable water governance:Governments are aware of the significant impact of raising public awareness in integratedwater resources management. Nevertheless to foster sustainable social engagement on waterscarcity issues there is a vital need to enforce water scarcity issues and water governance ingeneral in the education curricula (i.e. from primary school to university in social studycourses). By doing so we ensure that future generation would be more proactive andperceptive of the threats of water scarcity.ConclusionEngagement in policies for sustainable water scarcity management is linked to thesurrounding complex dynamic environment and unbalance between water availability andwater use. Climate change, conflicting interest between water users, the paradigm shift inour cities’ scenery, demographic explosion, poverty, discrepancies in the social andeconomical valuation of the scarce water etc. add even more stress on policy makers topromote or engage in policy development. Legal, institutional, technical and scientificambiguities surrounding the understanding and identification of the playing factors anddeterminants of water scarcity will hamper any tentative to mainstream water scarcity inthe policy agenda.References:1. Gleick Peter H., The worlds water, 2002-2003: the biennial report on freshwater resources, Island Press, 2002. 4
  5. 5. 2. WANA Forum 2010, A water-consultation, , option=com_content&view=article&id=236%3Awater- consultation&catid=40&Itemid=60&lang=en , last visited December 05, 2010.3. Falkenmark M. et al., “Macro-Scale Water Scarcity Requires Micro-Scale Approaches - Aspects of Vulnerability in Semi-Arid Development,” Natural Resources Forum 13, no. 4 (1989): 258-267. 5