• March 22nd, 2023

By Anwar Zibaoui, General Coordinator of ASCAME. Translated from Spanish to English. Originally posted in El Periódico.

  • We need a new regional consensus on water.

Water is a vital element in the Mediterranean. The culture, the economy, the society and the diet of the region has always been dependent on its climate. After all, we should not forget that all products on the ground depend on the sky. It is precisely the great scarcity suffered throughout history that has made water so precious. Without it, survival, development or migration would not have been possible.

Globally, the average water availability per capita is 7,000 cubic metres per person a year. However, in the Mediterranea, it is only 1,200 cubic metres per person a year. Half of the population in the Mediterranean area lives in water-stressed conditions, and the situation is becoming worrying. In addition, the population will increase by 150 million people, which would halve water availability by 2050.

Water connects us, not separates us. A regional water crisis would quickly become a global problem. The biggest threat over the next decade is a global water crisis that will lead to conflicts over control of available water supplies.

Moreover, 78% of the world’s jobs depend on water. Scarcity can therefore limit economic growth in many countries.

Security threats, instability and migration are conditioning Europe and relations in the Mediterranean. Climate change and water scarcity in the Mediterranean will increase the impact of conflicts. The expected growth of tourism, maritime traffic, aquaculture and the search for hydrocarbons in the coming years require measures to manage these uses and ensure the sustainability of the enormous wealth.

Inefficient management is causing water losses of over 30% in their networks, compared to 10% internationally. Improved management would have considerable benefits for the southern Mediterranean and would generate $5 billion in economic gains: the return for each euro invested would be four euros in profits.

By 2025, water demand will grow by 20% in the Mediterranean. The use of technologies with better energy consumption ratios and better regulation is essential. Wastewater treatment for use in agriculture or industry would facilitate sustainable development and create jobs.

It is essential to formulate a new regional consensus on water. The search for new non-conventional sources would minimise the impact and allow for a consistent solution. Steps must be taken towards the future, creating resource-efficient and climate-resilient economies. For without an approach that aims to break wasteful trends, without greater cooperation and without renewable alternatives, the countries of the region will not achieve sustainability and water stress will inevitably increase. There are already too many signs.