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Working towards climate resilient Municipalities in the MENA Region

Applying the Water, Energy and Food security Nexus for integrated and sustainable solutions at community level

The MENA Region Initiative as a model of the Nexus Approach and Renewable Energy Technologies

Population growth, climate change and resources scarcity: these are only some of the challenges faced by urban areas in the MENA region. Many of these challenges are related to the water, energy and food sectors. A holistic understanding of the interactions between and the management of these resources is therefore key for increased urban resilience to the effects of climate change.

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This is where the MINARET project comes in

MINARET : “The MENA Region Initiative as a model of the Nexus Approach and Renewable Energy Technologies” is focused on overall five municipalities in Jordan (Ajloun Municipality and Ma'an Municipality), Tunisia (Raoued Municipality and Manouba Municipality) and Lebanon (As Semqaniyyeh Municipality). The Minaret Initiatives are implemented by the Royal Scientific Society in Jordan.

The first phase of the project, MINARET I, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), started in 2017 to address the sustainability challenges and opportunities in the MENA region by sharing synergies to increase local and regional capacities.

The MINARET II project, which started in early 2022, is supported by the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme, which is co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ. Phase II builds on the success of Phase I spreading the approach to five further municipalities across the three countries. The second phase therefore also aims to enable municipal governances to develop their skills in the fields of climate assessments, integrated resources management and mobilization of funds in order to deliver high-quality public services, in particular with regard to policies that affect the usage of water, energy and food resources.


“The project enabled […] municipal executives to identify the importance of the interdependence between energy, water and food in order to implement municipal projects that contribute to reducing the effects of climate change and risks affecting the environment and the municipality."

— Eng. Fethi Derouez, Deputy Mayor of Manouba Municipality - Tunisia
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The MINARET II initiative follows a three-step approach:

Phase I 

Conducting baseline emission studies to identify the specific needs of each municipality. The baseline study is carried out involving multi-stakeholders, coming from all relevant sectors, including water, energy, food, environment, civil society, education and research, policy and the private sector. The Minaret Initiatives follow the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) approach.

Phase II

Supporting each municipality to become members of the CoM does not only allow municipalities to join an international network of local authorities for knowledge exchange, but it also provides guidance and a standardized methodology to develop cross-sectoral Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs). In this process, municipalities identify projects running along the water, energy and food security Nexus. RSS supports this process by offering WEF Nexus specific trainings.

Phase III 

Supporting municipalities to mobilize funding for implementation of the SECAPs through the technical support in finance readiness and the development of project proposals and an accompanying business plan for one SECAP Action. A final regional dialogue event with relevant funding agencies allows municipalities to present their project ideas and raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities for fund mobilization at local governance level. Projects range from establishing solar-powered central markets to generating renewable energy for wastewater treatment plants including reuse options.

On the path to long-term sustainable development of municipalities

MINARET II empowers and equips municipalities to take leading roles in implementing climate resilience projects. By leveraging existing synergies, bridging gaps and bringing together key stakeholders from various sector, MINARET II contributes to the sustainable development of the five municipalities in Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan. Doing so, it targets six of the UN Sustainability Goals: SDG 5- Gender equality, SDG 6- Water, SDG 7- Affordable and clean energy, SDG 11-Sustainable cities and communities, SDG 13- Climate action and SDG 17- Partnership for the Goals. With its action as well as the project’s communication, MINARET II is drawing the attention of the private sector and international experts, stakeholders and decision makers on the implementation of WEF Nexus-based projects. 

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The Nexus Regional Dialogue in the MENA Region

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The Water-Energy-Food Nexus

Together with national and regional partners, the Nexus Regional Dialogue in the MENA region, co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Ministry for Development and Cooperation (BMZ), promotes the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus approach in the region to address these interdependencies and ensure the sustainable management of water, energy and food resources.

The WEF Nexus approach focuses on negotiating trade-offs, inspiring compromises and uncovering synergies to ensure water, energy and food security in the long run. It further promotes policy coherence and cooperation between all three sectors at the regional, local and global level. Since 2016, the Nexus Regional Dialogue Programme in the Middle East and North Africa Region has been working across the region to institutionalise the Water Energy Foof Nexus in public policy and planning in addition to demonstration projects that show the value-added of the WEF Nexus, capacity building activities and the identification of financing opportunities.

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Water Scarcity and Food Demand in the MENA Region

The Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) region is water-scarce, food-deficient, energy intensive and highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Although the region holds 43% of the world’s oil reserves and an immense potential for renewable energy, 35 million people still lack electricity. The region accounts for just 1.4% of the global freshwater resources. Ongoing conflicts and poor security plague the region and undermine the sustainable management of natural resources, further underlining the need for WEF Nexus solutions.

Fulfilling MENA’s high resource demands requires an understanding of the synergies and conflicts that connect water, energy and food with ecosystems, as well as the introduction of holistic approaches to secure them, protect the environment, ensure social stability and reduce social inequality.

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“MINARET: Confident steps to lead the local transformation to renewable energy to become the main driver of innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainable development."

— Eng. Mohammed Al Shammari, Technical Manager, Greater Ma’an Municipality - Jordan
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“The project through its plans and actions has helped the municipality to identify its sectoral problems and to have a forward vision on how to adopt an integrated approach to combat the natural resources scarcities and increase demands efficiently."

— Mr Hilmi Harmoush, Mayor of As Semqaneyyeh Municipality - Lebanon

“We convey our sincere appreciation to MINARET team and GIZ for supporting Tunisian communities and Roaued municipality in particular to develop a better understanding on managing water-food-energy through Nexus lens as the heart of sustainable development.”

— Mr Adnan Bou Assidah, President of the National University of Municipalities in Tunisia and Mayor of Roaued Municipality - Tunisia

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