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Prof. Latifa Bousselmi, Centre for Water Research and Technology, Tunisia
Water, food and energy are three of main priorities in the Med region. Although Tunisia is aware of this issue but little is still done in term of water-energy-food nexus. In this paper we present Tunisian situation focusing on (i) water and its interfaces with food and energy (Nexus from the water sector perspective) as well as (ii) nexus research and innovation priorities.
Water and its interfaces with food and energy
The pressure on Tunisian water resources requires promoting the management of interfaces of water with other sectors in particular agriculture, which uses 75% of developed water but losses up to 50% of applied water. The Ministry of Agriculture, which is in charge of water resources management, might consider the water-food interfaces and pays more attention to the interaction between these two sectors. It is worthy to highlight however that the other water actors pointed out a potential conflict of interest as the Ministry of agriculture manages water while he is the greatest water user.
The inscription of right to water as well as the precepts of good governance and sustainable management of resources in the new Constitution, should drive changes in water sector toward a holistic management approach and participatory and transparent governance, which guarantees various actors involvement. However, the civil society has emphasized the little consideration of these new principles in the drafting of the new Water Code by the Ministry of Agriculture. One of the suggestions is to integrate a regulatory body to regulate the resource considering all sectors (agriculture, energy, industry, residential, etc.) and a workshop was organised with the contribution of the Ministry of Agriculture and the participation of CERTE on 31-1-2017.
It is clear that the current system of water governance in Tunisia, where four different ministries are responsible of the Nexus sectors (i.e., for (1) water and agriculture, (2) environment including wastewater management, (3) energy, (4) health for water quality control), might hinder the integration of the Nexus approach instead of the sectorial vision. This is observed in the case of wastewater reuse management. Four ministries intervene in the management and reuse is viewed as a strategic priority, however, the reuse rate has not exceeded 30\% during last decade.
Actually, if water / energy interface is considered, it will be possible to move towards (i) local management systems, instead of centralized systems, with lower energy consumption for pumping for water transfer and (ii) less energy consumer-oriented treatment systems when appropriate (e.g., nature based technologies) that are considered sustainable and with low cost of operation. This reorientation driven by nexus approach will also serves re-use of water purpose.
At present, a reliable data on fields relative to various interactions between nexus sectors at national scale are limited, but their development is primordial to better understand the inter-linkages between water, energy and food sectors and to elaborate the appropriate models.
Nexus research and innovation priorities
The Med Spring project - Centre for Water Research and Technology (CERTE) - has participated in the National Days of Research and Innovation (JNRI: http://anprtn.wixsite.co/prioritesnatr-i) that is organized by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the National Agency for the Promotion of Research (ANPR) on 16-17 December 2016. The JNRI aims to contribute to the identification of the national RI priorities. During theses days, the Med Spring-CERTE has participated as rapporteur to identify priorities in field of the water-energy-food nexus.
The consideration of NEXUS topic during these JNRI demonstrates that the WEF Nexus approach has received its merited attention by RI decision makers. Experts and users of the relevant sectors and that have various profiles (i.e., public, private, NGO, etc.) have discussed and agreed, at their level, of main priorities. Participants have stressed the importance of RI as support to adopt nexus approach for water, energy and food securities in a context of scarcity of resources and climate change. In this sense, RI should allow the nexus approach to be the driver for the development of arid regions and marginalized areas. Participants are also aware of the limitation of the national governance system reported in the previous section and are seeking for research for innovative NEXUS governance and funding systems. Other RI aspects for more sustainability offered by nexus interactions are underlined such as renewable energy use and rationalisation of the use of chemicals. In summary, a new nexus oriented RI is needed to address unsustainable patterns.
The identified RI priorities are in line with the EMEG position paper for a Nexus Comprehensive Understanding of Water-Energy-Food and can also be tackled in the frame of EU-Med collaboration in the upcoming H2020 programs.
The Grand Challenges meeting is focusing on research and innovation in the context of global health and development. The Med Spring project - CERTE contributed to the event organised by European Commission on Climate change and urbanization and their impact on health, with a session dedicated to the link between nutrition, health, agriculture and water (October 23-26, 2016). Prof. Bousselmi (CERTE) presented an oral communication entitled "Options of Sustainable Local Water Management at the Urban Level Adapted to North Africa" and highlighted the link between wastewater reuse, agriculture an health and related main RI findings in the frame of EU funded projects as well as the necessary RI topics to be developed for safety integration of treated wastewater reuse.
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