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As part of the 2nd Mediterranean Water Forum, held in Murcia, Spain from 25 to 27 November 2014, the French Development Agency (AFD) and Plan Bleu organized the 4th Regional Forum on Water Demand Management (WDM).
About a hundred of policymakers, specialists and water services operators from 12 Mediterranean countries, including partners involved in AFD lending operations, participated in the event.
This regional workshop was aimed at:
In the face of increasing resource scarcity and increasing costs of water mobilization, WDM calls for the efficient use of the existing water supply through limiting losses and making moderate and economically sound use of water. Presentations of Moroccan and Spanish national strategies showed the increasing priority given to WDM. The work carried out under the CMI program on the economic approach to WDM, providing a common language for stakeholders in the water sector, was discussed in terms of economic instruments (pricing, fees/taxes, payments for environmental services), decentralized management of groundwater through "aquifer contracts", and water allocation decisions based on economic efficiency and social and environmental value, especially for agriculture. Finally, a presentation was made of the approach developed in partnership with the Water Think Tank on cost-benefit analysis of WDM options for the use of local decision makers.
The synthesis of this workshop emphasized the relevance and usefulness of the economic approach to WDM. Though having a limited impact yet on water savings despite significant potential especially in irrigation, WDM proved to be efficient in allowing a better cost recovery of water and sanitation services, improvements in the economic efficiency of water irrigation and in some cases an increased value added in agriculture.
The continuation of the implementation of WDM instruments in a more active and targeted way, and in a more proactive governance framework should lead to achieve further water savings, of which potential remains high. In addition, new analytical work will be conducted to better understand public decision-making processes for the allocation of scarce water resources and their relations to water pricing.
The results of the workshop were presented at the Plenary synthesis session of the 2nd Mediterranean Water Forum. The CMI program will pursue on knowledge sharing, integration of public policies, capacity building and preparation of AFD operations, focusing on resource allocation and pricing, and groundwater management.