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The UK is currently hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The first-ever Water & Climate Pavilion is mobilizing the water community and partners in the global climate action community, in order to shed light on the role of water in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and to support ambitious and science-based global climate action. In this context, the CMI was honoured to be selected to convene a session on November 12th, from 13:00 to 14:00 UK time, entitled “Youth for Water: Steering Water Policymaking in the Mediterranean Region” under the Water and Climate Change Pavillion programme on “Cooperation”, curated by the IUCN and the UNECE.
The Mediterranean region is often considered as a pioneering example of the acute tension around water resources: 180 million people live in countries with less than 1000 m3 /year per capita of renewable water resources, while 80 million are expected to have less than 500 m3/year by 2025.
Overall, the Mediterranean faces multiple pressures around the impacts of climate change, access to water and factors of water stress. In order to develop a clear understanding of the relationships between climate change, water and interlinkages with other factors (such as migration, food security and others) it is necessary to rigorously explore the complex interactions between different risk factors and drivers. Indeed, the way water is managed can have profound economic, social and political implications.
For instance, drought is becoming more costly in several Mediterranean countries. To adapt to these changes, there is a strong need to support the decision-making, by generating climate change datasets to help in understanding the future climate trends, which will help the government agencies in future planning. Ongoing CMI work in Tunisia and Morocco goes in this direction.
Depending on projection scenarios, in countries like Morocco, by the end of the 21st century, the temperature will increase by 2 to 5°C in the desertic and the NE mountainous regions and precipitation will decrease by 10 to 20 %. This is expected to negatively impact soil water reserve, thus impacting crop production as well as increasing irrigation needs that put more pressure on the limited water resources. In this case, all solutions integrating across technology, economics, and political development will be critical to guarantee stable socio-economic growth.
Meanwhile, comprising almost 60% of the total population, young people constitute one of the greatest assets in the Mediterranean region. CMI shares the belief that once youth are fully equipped to realize their potential, they can become main contributors and/or leaders in addressing the challenges of the sustainable management of water resources in the region. However, the challenges faced by young water professionals are varied. As identified by CMI, they include limited access to financial capital, limited access to decision-making, restricted national and international mobility and lack of engagement of youth in policy dialogue on water.
Mediterranean policymakers should support and empower their youth in driving the transformation required to improve water management and to deal with water challenges in the region. Several CMI reports have pointed out how youth need to be recognised as key partners with specific responsibilities (acting as multipliers, raising awareness and ensuring outreach to diverse young people, engagement in consultations and follow up to the implementation process) and rights (technical and financial support, having a voice). National capacity-building could also capitalize on regional youth networks. Meanwhile, youth-led entrepreneurial initiatives would benefit from domestic support, especially financial, which would allow them to scale up.
Therefore, the CMI drew attention to the major role that the Mediterranean youth can play in Steering Water Policymaking in the Mediterranean Region, in the framework of the first-ever Water and Climate Change Pavilion at the COP. The session highlighted the knowledge, dialogue and incubation activities conducted by CMI in collaboration with its partners (FCDO, IWMI, CEWAS, UFM, and MedYWat) on youth mainstreaming in the Mediterranean region. Specifically:
The session aimed to highlight youth inclusion in water-related issues in the Maghreb region by catalyzing youth engagement, through the mobilization of water and climate change young experts from the Mediterranean to debate and suggest concrete recommendations based on their research findings, including on the recent CMI Water-Security Nexus study.
The session also showcased the CMI entrepreneurship programme illustrating how Mediterranean youth can propose innovative solutions and cooperate in developing water solutions for better climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The CMI session informed and raised awareness on how Youth can be Drivers of Change for better addressing Water Challenges in the Region.
CMI put an emphasis on youth mainstreaming in the Mediterranean region, by involving the youth in its strategy through a holistic approach including a number of tools and activities such as the entrepreneurial E-Hackathon and E-Bootcamp programs in Water and Climate change, publication of working papers on “Water and Migration” and “Water and climate change”, and five editions of Water Heroes Contest, thus helping the Mediterranean youth to propose practical solutions for water-related challenges, providing a regional dimension to their contribution.
These activities provide opportunities for a wide range of young water professionals to engage in creating evidence-based, quality research focusing on the water sector in the Mediterranean region. The session shall hopefully act as a multiplier to create more opportunities for the Mediterranean youth to make a concrete impact through such solutions.
Furthermore, together with its partners (MedYWat, IWMI, Union for the Mediterranean, FCDO, CIHEAM Bari), CMI involves the youth in preparing and finalizing a regional study entitled "The water security nexus (WSN) in north Africa: catalyzing regional coordination around climate change, resilience, and migration", sponsored by FCDO. Among other things, in this study, CMI and its partners have developed a WA+ framework for Morocco to be used in the case of data unavailability. Results show that there is a decline in water inflow and outflow.
In Morocco, the 2030 projection showed that the seasonal water demand will be unfulfilled, requiring thus an additional 1.86 km3 in the wet season, and 0.64 km3 in the dry season. Overall, the session illustrated how the study catalyzes youth engagement in developing new technical approaches in enhancing water and drought monitoring and building resilience to climate change.
Watch the video recording
The session was moderated by Constantin TSAKAS (firstname.lastname@example.org): Senior Programme Officer - Sustainable Development Policies, CMI-UNOPS
14:00 - 15:00
Opening remarks on “Youth as Drivers of Change for better addressing Water Challenges in the Region”: Blanca Moreno-Dodson, CMI Director