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Formulating and evaluating options for water management

Wednesday, 16 December 2015 Posted in News, BeWater News

The Mediterranean is a region where changes in climatic conditions are expected to severely impact water resources. In order to adapt to global change impacts on Mediterranean water resourcesBeWater project partners developed an iterative, bottom-up approach, ensuring that stakeholders from local societies play an active role in developing appropriate strategies for the management of their river basins. Together, local stakeholders and BeWater project partners formulated and evaluated no less than 102 water management options.

As part of our participatory approach, we engaged with local stakeholders from the four BeWater case study river basins in Cyprus (Pedieos), Slovenia (Vipava) Spain (Tordera) and Tunisia (Rmel). They expressed their views and input during the process of formulating and evaluating options for future water management. At key moments throughout the project, they discussed and evaluated the outcomes. In each of the basins, stakeholders took part in workshops and individual consultations.

In a first series of workshops, the expected impacts of climate change and other important factors were discussed, which allowed to identify the main challenges for each basin. Furthermore, a range of potential water management options were identified. Having gathered information on the different challenges, a Fuzzy Cognitive Map  was developed for each basin. These maps helped to facilitate communication between stakeholders from various sectors and backgrounds and to integrate expert knowledge into a common understanding. The maps were also used to assess the impacts of the water management options on each of the four river basins. In a second series of workshops, the characteristics and the estimated impacts of the options were evaluated by stakeholders. Finally, a third round of workshops was organised to discuss the final formulation of the water management options.

While the four basins differ in environmental, socio-economic and political conditions, they share a number of challenges in the face of global climate change. Among them are water quantity and water quality, important challenges for all basins. In addition, the basins of Pedieos and Vipava are both confronted with flooding-related challenges, while Rmel and Tordera identified the domains of forest and biodiversity as particularly pressing.

To address these challenges, a total of 102 water management options were identified and formulated. While the four basins share common issues and challenge, they differ in the preferred pathways for addressing them. Indeed, stakeholders in the Pedieos and Vipava basins displayed a preference for options that directly target and involve society, such as awareness campaigns or education. They also highlighted options that may improve the knowledge basis of water management, through improved monitoring or hydrological studies. On the other hand, stakeholders in the Tordera basin generally singled out the “green” options that addressed important ecosystems in the basin, as well as soft approaches to help prevent the over-exploitation of water resources. Finally, stakeholders in the Rmel basin made divergent choices and came up with water management options that remained unexplored by the other three basins. The Rmel-stakeholders selected options that improved or developed mechanical infrastructures, as well as options that lead to income and job creation.

The strong involvement of stakeholders in various steps of the analysis was well appreciated by the stakeholders, as demonstrated by the positive evaluations of the stakeholder events. This participatory approach has resulted in a common development of knowledge within the river basins, with regards to the challenges at hand and the ways to deal with them. The latest stakeholder events held within the river basins have well seized the momentum for joint debate and decision. This will be a highly valuable asset for the further development of the river basin adaptation plans.


Photo credits: CREAF