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Folder The first Ministerial Conference of the Dialogue “Water 5+5”: Towards a Water Strategy in the Western Mediterranean, Algiers (Algeria), 30-31 March 2015

The first Ministerial Conference of the Dialogue “Water 5+5” will be held in Algiers (Algeria) on Tuesday, March 31st 2015. Previously to the Conference, an Expert Meeting will be held on Monday 30th of March 2015. On behalf of Algeria and Spain, promoters of the Initiative towards a Water Strategy in the Western Mediterranean, the text of the Water Strategy to be endorsed by the Ministers during their meeting on March 31st in Algiers is almost ready. This strategy document has incorporated the oral comments made during the three seminars held in Valencia and Oran and the written proposals received since then. The Strategy for Water in the Western Mediterranean (WSWM) aims at providing a guiding document with orientations and objectives on water resources management and protection agreed by the Western Mediterranean countries, supported and enriched through inputs from stakeholder groups. The long-term WSWM’s objectives are to preserve water quality and to balance quantity of used and available water to achieve regional sustainable economic growth, social prosperity, access to water for all and environmental protection and rehabilitation. The WSWM aims at stimulating the development of policy, cooperation and technological tools, promoting the exchange of knowledge and contributing to share prosperity. The WSWM is structured around 13 priority issues, grouped in three thematic blocks: starting on the cross-cutting subjects and widely accepted basic orientations on water management, followed by regional interest issues adapted to the specific context of the Western Mediterranean, and the last one focuses on more technical objectives, according to the specificities proposed by the 10 countries in order to improve water management. In order to address specific water challenges and help achieve solutions to problems of regional concern with a focus on sustainability, an Action Plan will be developed and followed-up. The Action Plan will assist in the successful implementation of the WSWM and will be annexed to the Strategy and will compile the proposals from the 5+5 Members. It will detail projects and initiatives with specific objectives, geographical scope, financing plans, foreseen indicators and schedule, and it will allow to visualise the most pragmatic part of the Strategy. 

The Western Mediterranean Forum, commonly referred to as 5+5 Dialogue, was officially launched in Rome in 1990 as an informal sub-regional forum of countries geographically situated on the western rim of the Euro-Mediterranean littoral and comprising of Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia.  Malta became a member in 1991.

As a trans-Mediterranean security initiative, the rationale of the 5+5 Dialogue is to secure closer cooperation between the five EU member states and the five Arab Maghreb countries through political dialogue and economic cooperation and by encouraging more efficient management of resources as a means of enhancing regional interdependence and development. 

The importance of achieving a closer and action-oriented cooperation among the Mediterranean riparian states is reflected in the development and implementation of several regional processes including in the efforts of consolidating the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Water and Environment form one of the six priority work areas of the UFM Secretariat. The UfM aims at making substantial contribution to depolluting the Mediterranean Sea, promoting environmental sustainability. Water within this framework represents an essential resource to protect and manage.

In that context, the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Water (Dead Sea, Jordan, 22 December 2008) agreed to prepare a shared and long-term Strategy for Water in the Mediterranean and approved guidelines for its elaboration. Despite the fact that there was general consensus from all the countries and experts involved on the technical contents, the references to the main geographical conflicts in the region made it impossible to adopt the Strategy.

Spain and Algeria consider that the adoption of a water strategy for the Western Mediterranean basin is a necessary step to promote a common policy that could help prevent conflict, foster development and contribute to the respect of the human right to water and sanitation by meeting water demands in water scarce environments in a sustainable manner. To this end, they have joined forces to launch a joint initiative in the 5+ 5 Forum context.

This proposal was endorsed at the Malta Summit held in October 2012 by the Heads of State and Government of the 5+5 Dialogue. The 5+5 Foreign Ministers agreed in Nouakchott in April 2013 to ask for the support to the European Union to develop this strategy.

The initiative was announced during the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York and officially launched at the first 5+5 Economic Forum held in Barcelona on 23 October 2013.

The first Workshop to launch a Water Strategy for the Western Mediterranean took place in Valencia on 25-26 February 2014, a second one in Oran on the 26th of June and a third one in Valencia on the 9th September, all with the participation of the official delegations and relevant regional entities and organisations.

During these workshops the main interest issues common to the 10 countries and regional entities have been broken down, synthesised and prioritised. These reflect, firstly, the characterization and current problematic of our common area in relation to water and, secondly the main joint priorities presented by the different national delegations.

This strategy is expected to be adopted at the First 5+5 Ministerial Water Conference in Algiers, on the 31st March 2015.

URL 5+5 Water Strategy