- Water shortages are mainly a feature of North Africa, while single cases exist in Europe.
- Regional disparities in water availability are evident, even in Europe, where water-abundant regions are close to water-deprived ones (i.e. in Greece)
- Thus, water scarcity is a problem that needs collaborative solutions.
Observations for policy
Water is unequally allocated along the Mediterranean shores due to geographical considerations. Although Europe is not severely affected by water shortages, policies for proper water management exist since 2000, many of which (such as the Water Framework Directive) try to involve Europe‚Äôs Southern neighbours, which are affected by water scarcity even more. Regional forums such as the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Mediterranean Network of Basin Organisations (MENBO) seek a common solution to the common problem of water scarcity in the Mediterranean. A common solution is needed, since it can be observed that even the wealthier regions (in Israel, around Athens and Barcelona) are severely affected by water depletion regardless of their material resources.
There are several policy forums for discussing water scarcity in the Mediterranean basin, namely the European Union and its Mediterranean neighbourhood policy, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Mediterranean Network of Basin Organisations (MENBO). The EU‚Äôs Water Framework Directive (WFD), first adopted in 2000 and reviewed in 2012, is one of the most adopted regional policies on water management both in the EU as well as in neighbouring countries: through the Mediterranean Neighbourhood policy, the EU is stimulating its neighbours to harmonise their water management systems with those of the EU. The European Investment Bank, through its FEMIP (Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership) already invested ‚ā¨14.8bn in Mediterranean partner countries, part of which went to water management projects. Such projects mainly address water scarcity and droughts, but also sewage systems and irrigation.
Water security is also a citizens‚Äô concern, and the first European Citizens‚Äô Initiative, Right2Water, concerned, among others, a call for increased EU efforts to achieve universal access to water and sanitation across the world. The initiative was accepted in March 2014, while the EU and its Member States provide over ‚ā¨1.5bn/year for water supply, sanitation and hygiene to developing countries. This is done not only through EU programmes, but also within the MENBO and the UfM frameworks, the latter of whom is funded through the EC, the EIB, the World Bank and regional banks.
The map displays a contrast between a relatively water-rich Northern Mediterranean and a water-scarce South. Only a few regions in Mediterranean Europe suffer from water depletion, notably Barcelona and Girona (Spain), Sicily and Puglia (Italy), Euboea and Attiki (Greece), Izmir (Turkey), Malta and Cyprus.¬† North Africa is, however, doing much worse, with maximum levels of water resources per capita of only 1000-3000 m3/year in Morocco, otherwise resources are below 1000 m3/year per capita. These observations are mostly linked to geographical considerations, given that North Africa is a more arid area than most of Southern Europe. It is not uncommon, however, to be able to see even in Europe a stark contrast in water availability between two bordering regions. Such is the case in Spain, where Barcelona, as a region with very low water resources¬† borders Aragon, a relatively water-rich region. The same is observable in Greece where the water-poor Attiki borders water-rich Peloponnesus. Such contrasts lay bare the poor water infrastructure network, which is not able to spread resources evenly across the regions.
Concepts and methods
The map displays the average available water resources per capita between 2000 and 2010, in cubic meters per year. ¬†For a comparative indication, the Falkenmark Water Stress indicator defines ‚Äúwater stress‚Äú as instances where annual water supplies drop below 1,700 cubic meters per person per year.