The La Palma Conference aimed at presenting the research outcomes of the ARID Cluster thus far, and at showcasing the Instruments available for the management of water resources in Arid Regions. Structural and non-structural instruments, both traditional and new, were presented by experts who analyzed their relative merits and applicability. These instruments were discussed by Stakeholders who provided their own hands-on experience and personal and professional outlook.
The Conference was organised by the La Palma Biosphere Reserve in collaboration with the Aquadapt, Medis and WaterStrategyMan Projects that form the ARID Cluster, and was supported by the European Commission.
Many societies, especially in the South have managed in the past within the boundaries of tradition, and know rather well what demand management implies. What complicates matters is that in fast modernizing nations, “hard” supply approaches are superimposed without a proper balance and creative mix of supply-demand innovative efforts. The topic of the Conference was "Water Resources Management in Water Stressed Environments: Structural and Non-Structural Interventions in the Context of Ecoadaptation". The notion and topic of Ecoadaptation in arid and semi-arid environments was focal to the discussions that took place, in addition to other related themes including:
The role and importance of co-evolution,
“Soft” approaches in balancing supply and demand management.
The Keynote Sessions
The two Keynote sessions refered respectively to the structural and non-structural instruments used in overcoming water challenges and adapting to water-poor environments. Tony Allan was the speaker on structural instruments on the first keynote session, and Bernard Barraque on behalf of Benedito Braga spoke on non-structural instruments on the second session. Their presentations were followed by questions and discussion among the participants.
The sessions were followed by two rapporteurs also taking part in the Stakeholders Forum, who were in charge with summing up the information provided and concluding in the closing sessions.
The Stakeholder Forum
The Stakeholder Forum had two major objectives:
To this end, the Forum actively involved:
The “case study stakeholders”, the regional parties at interest, people representing the Case Studies that are either members of the consortium or participants from associated institutes/organizations, and
The “Project stakeholders”, providing a discussion forum for all the attending ARID participants.
The Forum was divided into three roundtables:
The first two were occupied by the Case Study stakeholders. To facilitate the discussion and participation of partners, there was a separation of participants into two groups according to their preferred language of communication, and the creation of an English-speaking and a Spanish-speaking group. These two tables both discussed and compared their respective Case Studies with respect to: 1) Pressures and Impacts, and 2) Responses, providing a “Reality testing” of the Projects through their Case Studies. The keynote speakers also participated in these discussions, and collected the questions to be addressed in their presentations.
The third table was occupied by the ARID participants (Project Stakeholders), and this group discussed the ARID Cluster and how it can enhance and advance the integration of its constituent Projects into an effective instrument that will propose Strategies and Policies for water stressed environments (in the following ARID Meetings).
The Session was introduced by a short (10 minutes) talk by the Forum Moderator, a member of the Steering Committee who outlined the objectives of the Forum and described the process and questions in short.
In the two Case Study stakeholder tables, the discussion was moderated by two members of the consortium (C.A. Karavitis and R. Maia) who acted as rapporteurs for the discussion, facilitating the dialogue, and charged with summing up the outcomes of the Forum and discussion in the Closing sessions. The two Case Study stakeholders groups were given a set of questions, on which they discussed for the next 80 minutes. At the same time, the Project stakeholders group and the Forum Moderator were also involved in discussion on the integration of the three constituent Projects, and on how to enhance that in order to satisfy the EC objectives for the creation of the ARID Cluster. The role of rapporteur for this session was assigned to the ARID Coordinator.