Regional Workshop on integrated water resources management
The Regional Workshop on Data Processing and Exchange took place on November 22-24, 2016, at the Intercontinental City Stars in Cairo, Egypt. The workshop was organised within the framework of the regional project "Sustainable Use of Transboundary Water Resources and Water Security Management" (WATER SUM), which addresses water-related challenges and promotes regional cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. WATER SUM is implemented by the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) and is funded by the Government of Sweden.
The workshop is part of a series of activities related to water resources protection carried out through the project’s WATER POrT component (Water Resources Management Good Practices and Knowledge Transfer). The event brought together water practitioners dealing with data about water resources, as well as water and environmental authorities, experts, researchers and stakeholders responsible for reporting and data exchange at national and international level. Over three days, and six tailored working sessions, the workshop facilitated the exchange of best practices and of experience between Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and other MENA countries, and also served as a foundation for building common protocols for data exchange.
Dr. Ragab Abdel Azim, First Undersecretary of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt, opened the event with a welcome note on behalf of the host country. He highlighted the usefulness of the regional workshop for exchanging experiences and know-how among practitioners and stakeholders hailing from countries from the vulnerable MENA region. He recognised the role that both the WATER SUM project and the REC can play in Egypt and the MENA region as a whole in speeding up processes and identifying water management priorities. In concluding Dr. Abdel Azim addressed Egypt’s and the broader region’s challenges linked to water scarcity, while stressing the need to collect and process precise and reliable data in order to develop concise reports and facilitate data exchange.
“Water is an essential resource and element for fostering national and regional sustainable growth,” said Mihallaq Qirjo, REC Deputy Executive Director and WATER SUM Project Director. “We should make full use of the potential offered by water diplomacy and water governance to increase stability across neighbouring regions, such as Europe and MENA.” Qirjo expressed special thanks to the government of Egypt for its hospitality cooperation in staging this regional event, and to the Government of Sweden for financially supporting the implementation of the WATER SUM project. He also underlined the role that the REC can play in efficiently contributing to cooperation in the Mediterranean Basin by building on both of the current flagship projects through which the REC is promoting sustainable use of water resources, as well as through established and new partnerships with key stakeholders across the MENA region.
The opening session set the stage for the workshop’s technical sessions: national and international experts presented several case studies and data processing experiences from MENA and other regions. A draft data processing and exchange protocol was introduced for receiving feedback from the participants. This feedback will be analysed and considered ahead prior to next year's delivery of the final protocol to beneficiaries
Key messages collected throughout the workshop included:
- There is substantial, underlying knowledge at national level about data processing.
- Practitioners share a high level of willngness to shore up mutually beneficial cooperation, and this can be supported by: fine-tuning communication and procedural tools and methods for strenghening inter-institutional coordination at national level and, subsequently, at international level; working together to define a harmonised and agreed-upon methodology; developing a common platform for exchanging information and nurture networking; and exploring means and standardisation for addressing shared challenges
- There is a need to facilitate access to information and public participation through legal instruments.
- The development of new, advanced methods and techniques should go hand in hand with collecting and analysing real observation data.
- Multilateral frameworks for cooperation in water resources management from other regions can be examples that the MENA region can build on.
A more detailed summary, as well as workshop documents and materials pertaining to the Regional Workshop on Data Processing and Exchange, will be published in due course on the WATER POrT trainings/workshops webpage.
The Regional Workshop on Data Processing and Exchange was organised by the REC with the support of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt and of the Arab Water Council (AWC).
Photo gallery of the "Regional Workshop on Data Processing and Exchange"