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Climate Changes Challenges In The Mediterranean Region: What About Local Awareness?

Congress: 2015
Author(s): ISABELLE LA JEUNESSE (Tours, France), Claudia Cirelli, Philippe Quevauviller
UMR CNRS Citeres1, Vrije Universiteit Brussel2

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 17: Climate change, impacts and adaptation,

Climate change is probably likely to generate tense situations among users of water resources similar to some crisis examples that have taken place in the past for many catchment areas. The temptation is to believe that as it lead to comparable situations, with a successful management of these conflicts through integrated water management with local actors, there is no new challenge facing these situations. However, in the present state of knowledge on the impact of climate changes, it is likely that the chains of causes and effects will lead to different situations which will be more difficult to apprehend. Thus, the tools previously developed, if they are operational and valid today, might become obsolete if they are not updated continuously with the increase in knowledge about all the criteria explaining the chain of causes and effects between climate changes and water uses.
In this context, models are an undeniably educational support in the dissemination of scientific results. But this needs to rely on the validity of the database and the moderation of dissemination by experts closest to local stakeholders.
To support such dissemination, the EU FP7 research program Climb which core objective was to decrease uncertainties of hydrological modelling in the context of climate changes in the Mediterranean Region used to implement a process of interactions with stakeholders to encourage local dissemination of scientific results to raise local awareness.

Methods and Materials
The objective of the dissemination process was to assess with stakeholders the impact of climate change on uses and rivalries of water resources at catchment scale. It has been implemented through 7 case studies in two steps. First of all a qualitative analysis of local uses and rivalries has been set up on local case studies based on semi-directive interviews and implementation of a questionnaire containing both closed and open questions. Secondly, on the basis of these analysis confronted to the results of Climb hydrological modeling outputs, interactive workshops have been organized with stakeholders involved in each local case study under investigation, in order to assess the impact of climate changes on those uses and rivalries and to design the way they would plan to regulate it.
One particular section of the analysis is presented in this paper. It concerns how stakeholders (water managers and water users) described the main causes of the water uses evolution in the last 20 years and for the next 20 years.

Results and Discussion
According to interviewed stakeholders, it is notable that for the Mediterranean Region represented by Climb case studies, the main pressure on water resource during the last 20 years has been linked to population growth and urbanization. In the near future, stakeholders assume that urbanization will not increase at a similar rate than in the past but they however consider that an increase of domestic water use will occur. Besides this, tourism is not considered as a major demand. This confirms the difficulty for stakeholders to represent the entire water catchment with, in all cases, an important actual tourism pressure as a high level of inter-connection of water resource origin.
The results have also underlined that the terms « climate change » have not been cited by stakeholders during both interviews and open questions in the questionnaires. In other words, the evolution of rainfalls quantity is not considered as an issue for the next 20 years. This confirms the need to continue efforts on disseminating facts and figures about climate change to local water managers.

Local political situations have sometimes made it difficult to organize interactive workshops. However, when it has been possible, exchanges were particularly fruitful in explaining climate changes issues to both water managers and water users. Thus this dissemination strategy used to work when case study leaders were interested in developing their local network. This has enabled to create a local network of Climb outputs dissemination which is now remaining even after the project is ended.
To conclude on the analysis of water uses and water rivalries in the Mediterranean Region represented by 7 case studies of the Climb project, the main answer to the increase of water demand, without considering climate change as a driving force, has been a progressive transfer of water. It seems there is no spatial limit to this transfer in the limits of national borders. It has also been spotlighted that all analyzed water management plans are mentioning desalination as an option, both for European case studies and non-European ones. It seems that this represents the next step of water supplying in the Mediterranean Region. This important output raises some questions to water policy: Are the national and international legislations ready to answer potential issues linked to this new water resource? Should this new water resource be included in hydrological modelling for water management planning scenarios? How to consider this in Integrated Water Resource Management? European research programs are at the edge of developments in this area, and support to local dissemination of scientific results and in particular for climate induced changes on water resource should be pursued.

Key-words: water uses, water governance, climate change, hydrological modelling, dissemination.

This paper was funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Program through the CLIMB project, Grant Number 244151. We would like to thank our scientific coordinator, Ralf Ludwig, for his support all along the project duration. The authors would like to gratefully acknowledge case studies stakeholders for their participation in this study.

2011 IWRA - International Water Resources Association - - Admin