BeWater works with Tunisian youth in water resources management and climate change adaptation
Enhancing communication and dissemination of the project results with target audiences is a key priority for the BeWater project, which is focused in promoting stakeholders’ active role in determining appropriate strategies for sustainable water management and adaptation to the impacts of global change in the Mediterranean at river basin level.
As Youth is undoubtedly a key stakeholder in the Mediterranean South, with the role it has played in the recent sociopolitical developments and its robust demographics, BeWater has decided to invest and promote youth activity in the Rmel river basin in Tunisia’s Zaghouan province, one of the project’s four case study river basins, in order to help enhancing the Tunisian youth’s involvement in water resources management and climate change adaptation.
In this framework, BeWater partnered with the project "La Jeunesse Francophone pour l'eau" [Francophone Youth for Water], a joint initiative of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the Office Franco-Québécois pour la Jeunesse (OFQJ), with the support of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aimed at raising the young water experts’ voice in nine francophone countries1 with regards to water management and food security under climate change stress. With this synergy of great added value, and in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP21, to take place in Paris, France, in December 2015, the participants are currently engaged in national consultations organized by GWP Regional/Country Water Partnerships, which will result to a youth-led white paper on the topic to be presented to decision-makers at COP21.
In this context, the BeWater Consortium partner, Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med), is implementing the local initiative in Tunisia, with input from further partners2. In the case of Tunisia, currently oriented towards decentralized governance, the consultation has focused more at the local level, trying to understand the actual limits as well as the existing potential of an effective youth participation in water governance and the fight against climate change.
Following desk research analysis to establish an understanding on the status of the Tunisian youth participation in water management, national and local youth stakeholder mapping, preparation of the appropriate questionnaire and a subsequent questionnaire survey focused on the stakeholders’ point of view, data analysis and evaluation, GWP-Med held a national workshop on July 31st, 2015 in the governorate of Zaghouan, under the thematic “Boundaries and guidelines for a committed and active involvement of youth in sustainable water resources management and the fight against climate change”. Participants included stakeholders from public institutions involved in water resources management at local level, civil society, universities, and media at both national and local level, in order to get their feedback on the matter and validate the data accumulated, allow a collective reflection about the limits and challenges faced by youth nowadays, as well as the formulation of recommendations and concrete actions to initiate, in order to tackle climate change and its impacts on water resources.
The workshop focused on the identification of limits faced by youth to fully and efficiently be part of the decision-making process, and the development of recommendations to address the challenges previously identified. Given the lack of collaboration between the central and regional administration, public institutions and civil society, or within civil society itself, access to information is limited and knowledge transmission impaired. This restricts NGOs’ capacity in resilient water management and there is a lack of sustainability in NGOs’ actions, which facilitates the enhancement of a top-down approach in decision-making and hampers civil society’s involvement in the planning process. Suggested strategic measures for a stronger youth engagement in water resources management and climate change adaptation, in response to the above-mentioned challenges, include the importance of having access to information via internet, especially documents related to public politics and national strategies, and the necessity to enhance and reinforce youth NGOs’ capacities, in parallel to awareness raising activities.
In an enthusiastic and creative atmosphere, participants concluded with an unanimously accepted action plan, including a) organizing communication and awareness-raising activities aimed at civil society, b) running a capacity building program addressed to youth NGOs at local level, c) promoting the organization of a youth network at local level, and d) enhancing the beneficiary NGOs’ participation within the BeWater Project. Accordingly, and in order to reinforce the activity’s future sustainability, a workshop participant has been selected to represent the project “la jeunesse francophone pour l’eau” within future BeWater Project proceedings, while two youth BeWater representatives will be selected as Tunisia’s representatives within the project “la jeunesse francophone pour l’eau”, to visit COP21 in Paris, along youth representatives from the project’s eight other countries.
1 Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Canada/Québec, France, Haiti, Togo and Tunisia
2 INRGREF, Deep Blue, Prospex, EFIMED