Come to the table: World Café 2016 on Water, Growth, and Stability

September 02, 2016 | By Valerio Ponzo

On August 31, 2016, over 60 representatives of central and local governments, regional bodies, NGOs, academia and businesses from the MENA region and beyond gathered in Stockholm during World Water Week for "World Café 2016: Water, Growth and Stability". The event, organised by the Regional Environmental Center (REC), built on World Café 2015’s fruitful outcomes and expanded the purview of its three core topics by investigating reviewed background documents, which were prepared in time to share beforehand with participants.

The core topics were investigated in line with the major theme of World Water Week’s MENA Focus 2016, namely: How can MENA countries contribute to the implementation of water-related SDGs and the new climate agreement, while addressing horizontally cross-cutting issues such as migration, gender equality, youth and human rights, and water-related security issues?

Employing a modified World Café Method, the event kicked off with a brief plenary session and opening remarks from the convenor, the REC and representatives of national water authorities from Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. Afterwards, discussion topics were outlined and participants were split into three working groups, which engaged in the following facilitated group discussions:


  • Governing water for sustainable growth (Group 1)
  • Water-related climate change mitigation and adaptation measures for sustainable growth (Group 2)
  • Water security action planning for sustainable growth: Issues in the MENA region (Group 3)

With the working groups rotating at intervals of 15, 20 or 25 minutes, each facilitator led and steered discussion while remaining with his or her assigned group during the entire process. The facilitators also played the crucial role of assessing and summarising input from each group.

A comprehensive report of results from the World Café is currently under development and will be published soon, but listed below in the meantime are some key ideas and messages that the rapporteurs highlighted during the event's closing segment:

  1. MENA countries and the region as a whole can benefit greatly by helping to meet water-related SDGs.
  2. Good water governance at all levels is a precondition for sustainable growth.
  3. Climate change is having severe effects on water resources in the MENA region, but regional cooperation can facilitate better understanding and management of common resources, and thus mitigate these negative consequences.
  4. Dialogue and common understanding on shared water resources can accelerate the adoption of an integrated approach towards managing regional water resources.
  5. Addressing water security at local level contributes to developing sound and inclusive environmental governance and to nurturing sustainable growth.
  6. Local communities are becoming increasingly influential when it comes to gauging water management and assessing and planning actions linked to water security.
  7. The REC, through both the WATER SUM project and the Water, Growth and Stability Initiative (WGSIni), has been developing tools for local water security action planning, fostering dialogue and building trust among stakeholders.