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Technical Consultation on Barriers to Water Innovations in the Mediterranean Region (EW4.4 Program) Friday March 16, 2012, CMI Briefing Notes

On March 16, the CMI held a technical consultation on barriers to water innovations in the Mediterranean region, gathering close to 20 participants including CMI colleagues from the Knowledge Economy, Innovations and Technology (KEIT) cluster. A range of stakeholders (e.g., research centers, developers, international/regional development partners, institutes, investment networks) from the North and South (e.g., Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine) of the Mediterranean participated in the consultation. Organizations represented included CERTE, Arab Water Council, ANIMA, UNIDO, among others. The consultation was chaired by Mats Karlsson, CMI Director, and moderated by Julia Bucknall, Manager, Water Anchor, World Bank. ISESCO Deputy Director General, Prof. Dr. Ahmad Mukhtar also attended, as part of the partnership between the CMI and ISESCO, and actively contributed to the debate. The purpose of the meeting was to unbundle constraints to adoption of water innovations in the Mediterranean region by identifying key barriers to innovations within the entire water value chain and innovation ecosystem. The exchange covered a range of themes/concepts including: treatment and reuse of wastewater, drought resistant crops, dry-land rehabilitation, financing of new investments, and the development of a young entrepreneurs network. A total of seven presentations were given to provide context and help frame the discussion and to illustrate the types of innovations and challenges encountered in developing and scaling up technological and non-technological innovations. Participants identified some of the key barriers to innovations in water in the Mediterranean region: Lack of appropriate financing mechanisms (at the “meso-financing” level, in particular; seed capital) and lack of information on how to access available finance to support innovation projects. Lack of access to information and modern communication tools to promote adoption of innovations/Insufficient sharing of experiences and best practices among different stakeholders on innovative projects Lack of specialized degrees and dedicated training recognized as such in water innovations given that innovation combines different fields of specialization.

Need of greater awareness among consumers, markets/end users of benefits of water savings which can be captured through a certification process, bridging stronger linkages between producers and consumers Develop financial incentives among users recognizing a price tag on water (i.e. there is a need to challenge the perception that water is viewed as a commodity without cost) Lack of a well established Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) system in the MENA countries to support innovations The discussions also focused on the water/food/energy nexus, highlighting the opportunity/challenges of maximizing the use of water-efficient, drought-tolerant energy crops on non-arable, marginal lands in the region and other related commercial applications. Participants also underlined a need to mine traditional/ancestral water management techniques for improved water management at the local level (for example, the use of modern technologies, such as nanotechnologies, in local irrigation management). The need for more “simple”, non-capital intensive technologies adapted to the local environment was also noted. Next steps include the PCN Review Meeting (March 22) and the preparation of a proposed strategic guide for the setup of a young water entrepreneurs network in the Mediterranean region. A detailed account of the discussion is being prepared. The power point presentations can be accessed via the below link along with the agenda for more information.

Note Prepared by Nathalie Abu-Ata, TTL, EW4.4. program, CMI