Universidad Politécnica de Madrid1
The Mediterranean region is at the heart of drastic socio-economic and human transformations and one of the world's climate change hotspots (Benoit and Comeau 2005; Iglesias et al. 2011; Varela-Ortega et al. 2013). Social and political developments as well as future climate projections envisage dramatic implications for the water and agricultural sectors that will endanger economic development and might lead to natural resources degradation and social instability (Milano et al. 2013; Chenoweth et al. 2011). This study aims to assess the socio-economic and environmental effects of different societal and human development scenarios and climate change on future water use trends in the water-scarce southeastern Mediterranean rim countries (MED11).
To address the complex interactions of the human and water systems the study has developed a two-stage modeling methodology. Firstly, we have carried out a panel-data based econometric analysis on water use trends and 2030 future projections under four different socio-economic and sustainability scenarios across the MED11 countries.
The scenarios (Ayadi and Sessa 2011) are defined considering two dimensions: sustainability and cooperation between shores (EU and southern and Eastern MED11 countries). They are defined as follows: QI -- Reference scenario: degradation of resources and unsustainable socio-economic development; QII -- Sustainable development of an enlarged EU-MED union: sustainable development and full multilateral integration; QIII -- Sustainable co-development of EU&MED regions: sustainable development, effective cooperation between the EU and the MED countries based on bilateral agreements; QIV -- Euro-MED area under threat: degradation of relations between the EU and the MED countries, economic crisis, mismanagement of natural resources.
The scenarios (Ayadi and Sessa 2011) are defined considering two dimensions: sustainability and cooperation between shores (EU and southern and Eastern MED11 countries). They are defined as follows: QI-Reference scenario: degradation of resources and unsustainable socio-economic development; QII-Sustainable development of an enlarged EU-MED union: sustainable development and full multilateral integration; QIII-Sustainable co-development of EU&MED regions: sustainable development, effective cooperation between the EU and the MED countries based on bilateral agreements; QIV-Euro-MED area under threat: degradation of relations between the EU and the MED countries, economic crisis, mismanagement of natural resources.
Results on water withdrawals show that climate as well as socio-economic projections in the different scenarios may have clear differential effects across countries in the MED-11 region and over time. The analysis illustrates that the most sustainable scenarios, such as Euro-Mediterranean integration and cooperation (QII and QIII), mitigate water withdrawal in all countries in spite of the increase in water demand due to changes in population, GDP and trade. However, in all scenarios and for all MED-11 countries, to close the gap between water demand and supply would require a combination of additional measures and water investments. These range from costly hard measures (dams and reservoirs) to soft less costly adaptation measures (management, quotas and tariffs) and the optimal selection will vary across countries and scenarios. In general, most countries in a cooperation scenario will profit from less costly water developments due to the implementation of demand-side water saving practices. The effectiveness of adaptation measures differs, being more acute in the most water-scarce countries (Jordan, Palestine and Israel) where the cost of overcoming the lack of water will be highest (Droogers et al. 2012). The study also points out that the scenarios where factors such as effective water management, governance and structural change are predominant (Euro-Mediterranean integration and cooperation) water resources and social stability are more secured.
For all countries Euro-Mediterranean integration as well as cooperation (QII and QIII) mitigate the large water consuming trends of the past. As agriculture is the largest water consumer, policies that support irrigated crop production will have to consider that irrigation expansion may reach the limits in some countries (Bruinsma 2009). Thus improving water management efficiency will be necessary.
At country level (Syria, Morocco, Jordan), the application of water demand policies (tariffs and quotas) are effective for reducing water consumption under Euro-Mediterranean cooperation. However, water tariffs need to be carefully applied as they could have negative effects on farm income (Esteve 2013). These can be prevented by inducing cropping changes to adjust to less water availability and technological improvement.
Conclusions and Policy implications
For supporting efficient water policies an integrated vision is required. Technical and agronomic drivers will not be sufficient and economic, social, institutional factors have to be considered.
In a future of sustainable Euro-Mediterranean integration and cooperation (QII, QIII), large GDP growth, population expansion and trade development, can result in more water being demanded. Hence, policies that support structural change, technological improvement and better governance, will counterbalance this trend, reduce overall water use and conserve renewable water resources.
Water scarcity in the MED-11 region requires investment in water technologies to close the gap between water supply and demand. In a Euro-Mediterranean integration and cooperation (QII,QIII) these investments will be less costly. They will rely largely on demand-side measures, like better management and efficient water pricing, and will offset the costly supply-side hard measures such as construction of dams.
Water demand policies are site-specific and need to be applied distinctively across countries and areas. Differences across future scenarios are more acute in water-scarce countries where non-cooperation (QIV) can increase considerably the costs of water. Thus policies will need to encourage water resources and socio-economic sustainability.
At country level, in the irrigated agricultural sector, Euro-Mediterranean integration (and to a lesser extent cooperation) will be successful in securing agricultural production, farm income and water resources conservation provided that effective water management, governance and structural change are induced.
In a general perspective, the study shows that envisaging a future of stronger Euro-Mediterranean alliance, the Med-11 region can benefit from more integrated agricultural and water policies, avoiding conflicting objectives and seeking for synergies. It illustrates that this type of scenario-based analysis can therefore support water and agricultural policy-making.
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