FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

The water scarcity challenge in the Arab Region is more pressing now than ever before. Declining water quality and quantity, decreasing groundwater levels, increasing population and urbanization, and climate change pose serious threats for countries in the region to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and uphold the basic human rights of access to water and sanitation.

As water scarcity is a multi-dimensional challenge, it is necessary to respond to the threats with a coordinated and multi-sectoral response. Actions are required at all levels of society and governance, from the community level through the national level policy, and fiscal environment to the transboundary and regional level of coordination and cooperation.

As part of the regional Water Scarcity Initiative and aligned with the 2019 Cairo declaration from the First Joint Meeting of Arab Ministers of Agriculture and Water, FAO in collaboration with various partners is organizing a high-level Water event present current challenges and opportunities in addressing water scarcity in the region.

The meeting aims to provide an inclusive forum and dialogue environment for decision makers, development partners, donors, civil society organizations and scientists to discuss and debate advances and innovations in the field. The meeting will provide inclusive, multi-sectoral output messages that will feed into the intergovernmental high-level processes on Water Scarcity and Sustainable Development.

Objectives: 

  • Increase visibility of the water scarcity crisis for the region’s governments, civil society organizations and development partners.
  • Promote more integrated and harmonized policies that connect Water Resources management, Drinking water and sanitation, Agriculture, and other sectors.
  • Serve as an inclusive platform for providing coordinated input into the intergovernmental processes on water scarcity.

Event details:

Date: 17 November 2021

Venue: Hybrid (League of Arab States and Virtual)

The one-day meeting will be organized on 17 November within the 13th session of the Arab Ministerial Water Council, scheduled for 14-18 November 2021. Participation in the meeting is only by invitation from the League of Arab states and/or the partner agencies leading the technical sessions.

Programme : 

Meeting Facilitators: Dr. Gamal Eldin Gaballah, Technical Secretariat of the Arab Ministerial Water Council

Dr. Hammou Laamrani, Technical Secretariat of the Arab Ministerial Water Council

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Opening Session

9:00 – 09:20

-    Mr. Ted Chaiban

UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa (5 min.)

-    Dr. AbdulHakim Elwaer

FAO Assistant Director General & Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa (5 min.)

-    H.E. Eng. Essa Bin Hilal Al-Kuwari

Chair of the Current Session of the Arab Ministerial Water Council, President of Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation “KAHRAMAA” (5 min.) (TBC)

-    H.E. Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States

To be delivered by Dr. Gamal Eldin Gaballah, Director of Housing, Water Resources and Disaster Reduction, League of Arab States (5 min.)

9:20 – 9:50

Coffee Break

9:50 – 10:15

Keynote Presentation on Water Scarcity and Sustainable Development

H.E. Dr. Hazim El-Naser

Founder of The Middle East Water Forum (MEWF) and Former Minister of Water and Irrigation – Jordan (25 min.)

Technical Session 1: Economic Impacts of Water Scarcity

Lead Convener: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA)

Moderator: Ms. Carol Chouchani Cherfane, Director, Arab Centre for Climate Change Policies and Cluster Leader of Climate Change and Natural Resource Sustainability, UNESCWA

10:15 – 11:30

Introductory presentation – Mr. Ziad Khayat, Economic Affairs Officer, Climate Change and Natural Resources Sustainability Cluster, UNESCWA (10 min.)

Panel discussion (30 min.)

      Mr. Muteb Al-Qahtani

Director, General Department of Water Resources - Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Saudi Arabia

     Dr. Ahmad Mouawad

Vice Chairman, Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW), Egypt

     Mr. Dominick Revell de Waal (Virtual)

Senior Economist, The World Bank

     Eng. Mohammad Shakkour

Technical Assistant - WASH, World Health Organization (WHO)

     Ms. Lucinda O'Hanlon

Senior Advisor on Policy and Strategy, Sanitation and Water for All Partnership (SWA)

Questions from the audience (25 min.)

Key messages from the session (10 min.)

Technical Session 2: Challenges and Opportunities for the Use of Non-Conventional Water Resources

Lead Convener: FAO in collaboration with IWMI

Moderator: Mr. Jean Marc Faurès, Regional Programme Leader, FAO-RNE

11:30 – 12:45

Introductory presentation – Dr. Redouane Choukr-Allah, FAO Senior Expert (10 min.)

Panel discussion (30 min.)

     H.E. Mr. Tawfik Al-Sharjabi

     Minister of Water and Environment, Yemen

     H.E. Eng. Essa Bin Hilal Al-Kuwari

President of Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation “KAHRAMAA” (TBC)

     Dr. Ragab Abdel Azim

Deputy Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Egypt

     Dr. Jehad Al-Mahamid

Secretary General, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Jordan

     Dr. Mark Smith,

Director General, International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Questions from the audience (25 min.)

Key messages from the session (10 min.)

     H. E. Dr. Mahmoud Abu-Zeid

President of the Arab Water Council and Former Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Egypt

12:45 – 14:15

Lunch Break

Technical Session 3: Management of Scarce Water Resources During Protracted Armed Conflict

Lead Convener: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Session Chair: Ms. Haja Kamara, Head of the Regional Affairs in the Middle East, ICRC

Moderator: Mr. Mufleh Al Alaween Abbadi, Regional Advisor and Liaison Officer on Water Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in Jordan

14:15 – 15:30

Opening and introductory presentation - ICRC (10 min.)

Panel discussion (40 min.)

     H.E. Eng. Mazen Ghunaim

Head of the Palestinian Water Authority

     H.E. Dr. Walid Fayad

Minister of Energy and Water, Lebanon

     Mr. Igor Malgrati

Regional Water and Habitat Advisor in the Middle East, ICRC

     Mr. Rebhy El Sheikh

Senior Water and Sanitation Expert, French Development Agency (AFD)

     Ms. Mara Tignino

Lead Legal Specialist, Platform for International Water Law, Geneva Water Hub

Questions from the audience (15 min.)

Key messages from the session (10 min.)

15:30 – 16:00

Coffee Break

Technical Session 4: Water Scarcity and WASH Services at Community Level

Lead Convener: UNICEF in collaboration with Oxfam

Moderator: Dr. Ali Al-Khateeb, Chief WASH UNICEF Iraq

16:00 – 17:15

Opening – Ms. Sally Abi Khalil, OXFAM Regional Director (5 min.)

Introductory presentation – Dr Hadeel Qazzaz, OXFAM / Dr. Ali Al-Khateeb, UNICEF (10 min.)

Panel discussion (30 min.)

     H.E. Dr. Jasim Al Falahi

Minister of Environment, Iraq

     Ms. Rewa Assi

Program Coordinator, Waterlution / Climate Action Network

     Ms. Asmahan Al-Eryani

Chairwoman, Enjaz

     Dr. Nizar Zaied

Global Lead Water, Islamic Development Bank Group

Questions from the audience (20 min.)

Key messages from the session (10 min.)

Closing

17:15 – 17:30

Key messages of all technical sessions, H.E. Dr. Hazim El-Naser (10 min.)

Closing Remarks, Chair of the ministerial session/League of Arab States (5 min.)

17:30 – 18:00

Cocktail Reception