GWP Consulting Partners Meeting 2011: “Water Security as a Catalyst for Achieving Food Security”

The annual Global Water Partnership Consulting Partners Meeting focused on “Water Security as a Catalyst for Achieving Food Security”. MedWet was invited as a consulting partner and disseminated its experiences in local policy dialogues on water, food and environment in the MENA region.

Founded in 1996, the GWP network has grown rapidly to include 2407 partner organizations in 157 countries. The main purpose of the Consulting Partners meeting, which took place in Stockholm  on the 18th and 19th August 2011, was to monitor the strategic direction of the Network, as set out in the GWP 2009-2013 Strategy, as well as to receive and comment on the annual activity and financial reports of the Steering Committee.

The theme of this year’s meeting was selected as a response to the global concern about the increasing impacts of climatic disasters.  During the two-day meeting a consensus was built around the concept that water security is essential to food security and that better water management, through Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), is the only way to ensure food security in the long term as well as in the short term.  The meeting also agreed on involving not only agricultural institutions, but also disaster management agencies, the civil society and environmental organizations to work with GWP, in order to implement integrated solutions on the ground for both water and food security.

The first day saw presentations by the GWP regional offices who shared their experiences and solutions for food security matters emphasizing the issue not only of water availability but also of water and soil quality, highlighting issues like agricultural water use, the biofuel industry and extreme climate events. The second day GWP’s strategic allies involved in food, agriculture and disaster management like the FAO, International Water Management Institute, International Land Coalition and many others, gave short presentations on their respective expertise. At the end of the second day and in light of the GWP 15th Anniversary, the GWP Patron, His Highness the Prince of Orange of the Netherlands joined the meeting in order to hear the conclusions of the Consulting Partners meeting, and to present the 2011 GWP Annual Lecture on the topic of water and food security.

MedWet took part in the workshop themed “Solutions for Integrated land and water management and disaster risk reduction” and made a presentation under the frame of the workshop 2 “Regional solutions for integrated land and water management” on its experiences in local policy dialogues on water, food and environment in the MENA region. The presentation was effectively a reviewed version of the Lessons Learnt from the MedWet/InWEnt Water Dialogues. The concept of the dialogue approach was very well received by the participants and especially the process of involving a variety of stakeholders in a constructive dialogue focused towards the resolution of environmental problems and water resources sharing. The important points highlighted by the regional offices of GWP China, Vietnam and South Africa on the issue (which were present in the workshop), were the concept of good entry point, political linkage and the transparent stakeholder’s participation which ensures the inclusion of the lowest levels of the involved communities. Overall, during the meeting MedWet advocated on the importance of protecting existing wetlands as part of any policy because of their natural role in the mitigation of floods, climate change and other phenomena.