(c) Kamel Amer
Ecosystems / WEFE Nexus

Nexus Workshop // Outcomes of the Cairo Water Week 2019 Side Event: Promoting Urban Nexus in the MENA Region

This article summarizes the main outcomes and discussion points of the workshop "Promoting Urban Nexus in the MENA Region - A Side Event at Cairo Water Week 2019". It presents best practices and success stories of Urban Nexus activities in the region as well as the way forward in further promoting the Urban Nexus approach.

As a side event to Cairo Water Week II, the Nexus Regional Dialogue in the MENA region organized a workshop on Urban Nexus,  in collaboration with the League of Arab States (LAS); the partner of NRD- MENA, upon the expressed interest of the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI).

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The workshop was attended by senior officials from relevant ministries in Egypt; the First Undersecretary of the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy, the Chief Executive of the Drinking Water and Sewage Authority at the Ministry of Housing, Utilities & Urban Communities, the Director of Green Building Council, in addition to other officials. Experts from regional organizations also participated in this convening; the Head of Middle Regional Office of the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD), the Head of Research at MDRC in Oman, the Director of Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE) and a Project Coordinator at FAO North Africa Office.

Besides, there were participants from local government; the Mayor of Jdaideh in Lebanon, the Deputy Governor of Giza in Egypt, the Mayor of Giza City and the Head of New Cairo Development Authority. Urban planners involved in planning New Cairo Capital participated in the workshop, in addition to participants from the private sector, Academia and NGOs.

Workshop Opening

The workshop was opened with welcoming words by the organizers of the workshop; the Coordinator of the NRD-MENA; Dr. Nisreen Lahham, LAS representative; Dr. Hammou Laamrani and the Head of Development Sector at the Egyptian MWRI; Dr. Ibrahim Mohammad Mahmoud. A presenting on the NRD and the Urban Nexus approach in the region was given, with proposed projects on Urban Nexus in the region.

The Manager of the National Energy Research Center at the Royal Scientific Society in Jordan; Engineer Muhieddin Tawalbeh, gave a presentation on MINARET Project (The MENA Region Initiative as a model of the NEXUS Approach to Renewable Energy Technologies), followed by a panel session on practical cases on implementing Urban Nexus in the MENA region (in Lebanon, Jordan Morocco and Egypt).

Success Stories of Urban Nexus in the MENA Region

In this session, the Mayor of Jdaideh El-Shouf in Lebanon; Mr. Hisham Fatayri, presented the achievements of MINARET Project in Lebanon, mainly in using solar pumping irrigation systems.

The achievements of MINARET Project in Kerak municipality in Jordan were also presented, highlighting the mechanism of public participation in defining the needs of locals regarding water and energy.

The Deputy Governor of Giza in Egypt; Dr. Lamia Abd El-Kader, presented the achievements of Giza Governorate in using renewable energy, managing solid waste and developing a strategy for climate change.

A success story of Chefchaon Municipality in Morocco in adopting an environmental approach was presented. This success was derived by two factors:

  1. the belief of leadership in transforming to an environmental city and
  2. directing partnerships and funds towards this vision.

The municipality started by its buildings in introducing a Nexus approach, as a model to be replicated in other buildings. A central inventory for energy consumption was introduced at the municipality for accounting energy consumption, allowing for transforming from low to high efficiency of energy consumption. Inclusiveness was applied through initiating a council of hotels’ owners parallel to the municipality council and collaborating with it on implementing the vision of Chefchaoun.

The Head of research at MDRC; Dr. Jauad El-Kharraz, presented regional initiatives on Urban Nexus led by MDRC and UfM, calling for collaboration with other initiatives on Urban Nexus such as the NRD MENA. This was followed by a panel discussion on challenges and opportunities of applying Urban Nexus in the MENA region. In this session the panelists discussed mechanisms of applying the Urban Nexus approach in the MENA region, shedding light on the central role of cities & municipalities in achieving water-energy Nexus at local level.

The First Undersecretary of the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy; Dr. Ahmed Mehaina, mentioned the steering committee initiated by the ministry for monitoring energy efficiency in Egypt, with members from ministries of water and agriculture. The Chief Executive of the Drinking Water and Sewage Authority at the Ministry of Housing, Utilities & Urban Communities; Dr. Mohammad Hassan, mentioned the strategic presidential decision on providing water to all touristic resorts in Northern Egypt through desalinated water only. He also mentioned the governmental trend towards reusing waste water in irrigation.

In the same session, the Director of Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE) tackled the Urban Nexus approach form a regional level, highlighting the opportunity of creating jobs in adopting the Urban Nexus. The code of buildings’ efficiency as mentioned by Dr. Maged, is not applied in all Arab countries, depending on the available compliance tools. The Director of Green Building Council in Egypt; Dr. Dalia Sakr, mentioned the green building assessment tool, calling for activating a green building code, accompanied with incentive tools. Dr. Hassan Elmouelhi; the Professor at TU Berlin in El-Gouna mentioned the project “Rural Urban Nexus-Global sustainable land use and urbanisation”, developing approaches and policy recommendations directed at an integrated and sustainable rural and urban development.

Urban Nexus in Asian Cities

Projects on Urban Nexus in Asian cities were presented by Ruth Erlbeck, the Cluster Coordinator at GIZ Cairo Office, deriving some lessons learnt, which may be considered in the MENA region. 

Applying the Urban Nexus in the MENA Region

At the end of this workshop and through an interactive session, the participants defined 6 main pillars of applying Urban Nexus in the region as follows: public private partnership, horizontal coordination through the water, energy and urban sectors, vertical coordination between the regional, national and local levels, regulatory and financial instruments, innovative technologies and public participation.

Discussing the way forward for promoting the Urban Nexus approach in the region the participants suggested the following:

  • Enhancing collaboration between governmental entities and universities in addressing specific challenges at certain urban areas.
  • Developing policy briefs addressed to policy makers on Urban Nexus, defining this approach and concluding lessons learnt from applied Urban Nexus projects in the region and in other regions as well.
  • Analysing the Asian experience on Urban Nexus and defining the applicability of these cases in the MENA region.
  • Exchanging experiences within the region through field visits and training workshops.
  • Assessing the impacts of water and energy pricing on the efficiency of using natural resources.
  • Enhancing coordination between regional initiatives on Urban Nexus.
  • Involving research institutions in developing innovative technologies for Urban Nexus applications such as generating energy from waste water, solid waste management and reusing waste water in planting specific crops.
  • Considering community public private partnership in Urban Nexus projects.
  • Creating Nexus funds at municipalities for applying Urban Nexus projects and utilizing financial savings in financing other Urban Nexus projects.
  • Empowering municipalities towards decentralization and providing innovative funds for municipalities through banks and donors.
  • Disseminating the Urban Nexus concept at schools through schools’ curriculum.
  • Considering the agricultural pillar of Urban Nexus, through roof gardening and urban agriculture.
  • Encouraging the private sector to be involved in Urban Nexus projects by preparing proper feasibility studies for Urban Nexus projects, highlighting the payback period.
  • Starting with governmental buildings in introducing Urban Nexus, as a model to be replicated in other buildings.
  • Assessing the revenue of green buildings in comparison with traditional buildings.
  • Reconsidering water pricing and introducing cross subsidies as in the energy sector.
  • Considering the Urban Nexus approach in governmental procurements.

Beside the active and fruitful discussions on Urban Nexus issues in the MENA region, this event offered an excellent environment for mutual exchange and learning on relevant Nexus issues amongst the participants from different sectors. By the end of the workshop, there was a consensus among the participants on the importance of having a series of workshops as a follow up to this convening. It was suggested to target certain dimensions of Urban Nexus at each workshop to mainstream the Urban Nexus approach throughout the Arab region.

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