What we learned at the UfM Regional Dialogue “Shared Views on key issues in the Mediterranean”

What we learned at the UfM Regional Dialogue “Shared Views on key issues in the Mediterranean”

In the face of shared environmental and economic challenges for countries on the Mediterranean Sea, Water Youth Network members Kelly Fouchy and Malek Abualfailat reflect on youth participation and inter-generational knowledge exchange for building sustainable development models for the region.

By: Kelly Fouchy (k.maria@wateryouthnetwork.org) & Malek Abualfailat m.abualfailat@wateryouthnetwork.org)


On 22-23 May 2019, the Water Youth Network (WYN) participated in the Regional Dialogue “Shared Views on key issues in the Mediterranean” in Barcelona, organized by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in collaboration with InJuve, CMI, OECD, ALF and UNFPA[1].

This event was part of a regional consultative process in preparation of the Summit of the two shores: Forum of the Mediterranean, which will take place on 24th June 2019 in Marseille. The objective of this Forum is to strengthen relationships between Northern and Southern countries of the Mediterranean region and is envisioned as a “match-making event” where projects from different stakeholders will be presented to decision-makers and donors. The forum will use a 5+5 format, with representatives from Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, and will be focused on the following topics: environment, youth, education, culture and economy.

The UfM Regional Dialogue gathered representatives from civil society (including several youth organizations) to discuss major social, environmental and economic challenges common to many countries in the Mediterranean region, and ways to overcome them. The two-day event included sessions with multiple roundtables focusing on specific themes such as water & energy, employment, and education & women empowerment.

Malek Abualfailat and Kelly Fouchy from the Water Youth Network helped raise the voices of young people during the roundtable on Environment, Water, Energy and Sustainable development. We pointed out that youth participation and inter-generational exchanges can contribute to creating models of development which go hand in hand with the preservation of ecosystems. However, this requires promoting youth engagement and giving opportunities to young professionals to develop new projects and initiatives.



Zoom on the water situation in the Mediterranean region:

How does the Sea connect countries from all shores of the Mediterranean? Water, this resource which is intrinsically linked with livelihoods and coastal ecosystems, which people depend on and have an impact on, pushes and requires inhabitants of Mediterranean countries to cooperate on many levels.

Available water resources are unevenly distributed across the Mediterranean basin, with approximately 67% of available water resources in the North, 23% in the East and 10% in the South. People impose huge water footprints, related to the goods and services they consume, having important environmental consequences both internally in the region and externally. The freshwater withdrawn/available freshwater resources ratio exceeds 70% in several South-Eastern countries, indicating water scarcity. Environmental flows, the quantity and quality of water required to sustain riverine ecosystems, are rarely taken into consideration, and most rivers are highly degraded. Millions of people still lack access to safely managed water supply and sanitation services in the region. In general, monitoring of water indicators is still poorly coordinated at the regional scale.

To respond to these challenges, the following recommendations were made during the roundtable:

  • Link water-related science, policies and practices, and involve inter-generational groups of researchers, managers, policy-makers and representatives of local communities at different stages of adaptive water management: planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation;
  • Develop coherent laws at the regional scale;
  • In addition to collecting data, it is important to invest time and money for the analysis of data and to feed the information into policy making; and
  • Update the educational system and teach the new generation skills which match the job market in the water sector.

A key concluding remark was, “We know the issues and solutions, but how do we get the solutions [implemented] on the ground?”. Examples of the presented initiatives illustrated the fact that youth can play a key role in this.



Learn more about the youth organizations and networks present at the event:


At the Water Youth Network, we represent a vibrant community of young professionals in the water sector. Our global network counts more than 200 members, of over 50 nationalities, including a good representation of Mediterranean countries. Our motto is empowering, connecting, change-making. If you are interested to join, contact us at hr@wateryouthnetwork.org




[1] Instituto de la Juventud, Center for Mediterranean Integration, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Anna Lindh Foundation, United Nations Population Fund.