The outcomes of the workshops were structured and shared with participants to validate the confirmation, falsification or transformation of the narratives on AWS.
In general terms, we found (and contributed to) social acceptance of AWS as pertinent innovations to face problems of water scarcity while providing security to farmers in terms of water availability, quality and price. The success of AWS in the Canaries, however, cannot be separated from the context of private marketization of freshwater resources, of public leadership of these innovations and of regulation of their prices through subsidies. While this regulation violates the cost recovery principle of the Water Framework Directive, it is considered a desirable and viable alternative in light of the impossibility of increasing food prices for farmers.
We observed strong concerns about the future of agriculture in the current European policy context. The problem of viability of farming systems gathers more attention than the problem of sustainability of water resources. In fact, the contribution of AWS to the recovery of degraded groundwater resources is a contested narrative, with more successful experiences in Gran Canaria than in Tenerife. On the other hand, in both case studies we found emerging narratives claiming the need to strengthen local food policy and market circuits. Concerning the energy dimension, in both study areas we observed mostly expectations about the role that renewable energy technologies could play in ratcheting down AWS prices. This nexus relation is claimed as a field for future research and innovation.
Challenges of AWS are mostly related to the management of their quality. In the case of desalination, quality challenges refer to the management of inadequate salt balance and the long-term impacts on soils. Reclaimed water faces challenges with regards to the high technical skills and the close monitoring required to deal with emerging contaminants. When confronted with these problems, in both case studies we obtained similar proposals from stakeholders: technical support and training to farmers on the one hand, and education and awareness campaigns to citizens on the other hand.
A full acount of the results is available in our project deliverable.
A follow-up participatory activity is scheduled in the first half of 2020. The purpose of this event is to validate the results and final conclusions, encourage national policy-makers in Spain to use the outcomes of this case study, and explore how AWS can contribute to the Water-Energy-Food Nexus sustainability in the European Union at large.
Several local policymakers have already shown interest in the findings of this study. For instance, the Insular Council of Gran Canaria has included the results in the 2030 roadmap of food sovereignty, and the regional General Directorate of Water and the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition are including the results of the Tenerife case study in a forthcoming practical case of application of the new water reuse regulation in Spain.
To further encourage the uptake of the outcomes, selected results have been published in the form of scientific articles and a policy brief (see below under 'related links') and have been presented at international conferences and local events. Other dissemination material is in the make to reach stakeholders at international, national (Spain) and regional (Canary Islands) levels.
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