In the coming decades, the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region will face a severe intensification of water scarcity due to several drivers, including demographic growth, increased domestic agriculture production, urbanization, rising energy demand, and overall socioeconomic development. Climate change will act as a threat multiplier; already, the NENA region experiences more frequent, intense and long droughts.

Agriculture already consumes more than 85% of the region’s available fresh water resources. Over the coming years, it will need to become more efficient in order to ensure food security and the rural economy — all while facing strong competition with other water users. Simply boosting water use efficiency and agricultural productivity will not suffice. More structural changes will be required.

Countries in the NENA region need to strategically plan the management and allocation of their water resources, as well as: review their water, food security and energy policies; formulate effective investment plans; modernize governance and institutions; and account for transboundary surface and ground water. Overall, they need to ensure alignment with Agenda 2030, by (i) setting the sustainable limits of water consumption and (ii) making the best use of every single drop of water, including through the use of non-conventional water sources.

This project helps countries in the NENA region adopt an analytical framework on the Water-Food-Energy-Climate-Ecosystem Nexus, which will be instrumental to such strategic planning.