The issues of water, food and energy supply and demand in the Mediterranean are closely interconnected. The on-going and future changes in these sectors result directly from climate and environmental change (e.g. increasing temperature and decreasing precipitation), but also changes in human activities (modification of production and consumption patterns). In general, the population growth (especially in southern Mediterranean), the rapid urbanization and the population concentration in coastal areas (UNEP/MAP 2013) lead to an increasing demand for water, food and energy.

Water

Countries on the Southern and Eastern rim of Mediterranean with semi-arid climate are more subject to water shortage and high inter-annual variability of their water resources (Fig. 1). In some regions, especially in Northern Africa countries (e.g. Schilling et al. 2012), decrease in precipitation together with a higher temperature result in the increased evapotranspiration, leading to decreased water availability (Jiménez Cisneros et al. 2014). According to existing projections, the Mediterranean population classified as ‘water-poor’, (i.e. below 1 000 m3 per resident per year) is forecast to increase from 180 million people today to over 250 million within 20 years (UNEP/MAP 2013).

 

Fig. 1. Annual natural renewable water resources per capita in the Main Mediterranean watersheds, expressed as levels of shortage for human use (Plan Bleu 2014).

 

 

 

 

Floods, which are expected to be more frequent, diminish water availability, as they may provoke damage to water supply systems, insufficient drinking-water supplies,and disruption of transport systems (Michelozzi and de’ Donato 2016).

The main source of fresh water in North Africa and the Middle East are shared aquifers. This resource is threatened, as in the North-Western Sahara aquifer system has a renewal rate of only 40% of the withdrawals (Gonçalvès et al. 2013). Intensive exploitation of groundwater resources led to critical drops of groundwater levels (Custodio et al. 2016, Moustadraf et al. 2008). Not only the quantity of groundwater decreases, but also its quality deteriorates because of overexploitation, pollution, increasing urbanization, and salt water intrusion caused by sea level rise (Leduc et al. 2017).

Some arid regions are depended to a large extent on the water resources provided by the snowmelt in mountain ranges. For these snow-dominated catchments (for example in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco) climate change results in a decrease in spring runoff associated with a reduced snow cover (Marchane et al. 2017), provoking the decrease in available water.

These increases in water scarcity are enhanced by the increasing demand for water. Irrigation represents between 50% and 90% of the total Mediterranean water demand (UNEP/MAP, Plan Bleu 2009). Changes in water consumption for irrigation are much influenced by technical (e.g. drip systems), economic (e.g. energy cost), social (e.g. local knowledge) and political (e.g. subsidies) drivers (AllEnvi 2016). The growing population and tourism also provokes an increasing water demand (UNEP/MAP, Plan Bleu 2009).

FOOD

Ongoing climate, environmental and socio-economic changes pose threats for food security in this region. These pressures are not homogeneous across the region and sectors of production (Paciello 2015). Factors affecting agriculture and livestock production around the Mediterranean basin are soil degradation, fires, changes in plant species composition and land erosion (Kovats et al. 2014, Plan Bleu 2003). Moreover, the area available for agriculture reduces due sea-level rise and land subsidence (Link et al. 2012). Food safety is also threatened by mycotoxins formed on plant products in the field or during storage and pests, which and are linked to climate conditions (Miraglia et al. 2009).

The current consumption patterns imply high ecological, carbon, and water footprints (Lacirignola et al. 2014). Within a period of 50 years, the population in the North Africa and Middle East region has increased by a factor of 3.5, while dietary habits have become more westernized (including more meat). Livestock production, mainly located in the semi-arid and arid lands of the Mediterranean South, has shifted from extensive modes to systems heavily dependent on feed grain, increasing poverty and rural exodus and rendering production sensitive to climatic shifts. These regions become more dependent on imported food (INRA/Pluriagri 2015).

Fisheries and aquaculture are essential for food security and the economy of the Mediterranean. Fishing has been going on in the Mediterranean Sea for a thousand years and has resulted in overexploitation of the main commercial species, with no less than 90% of stocks assessed in 2015 categorized as overfished (STECF 2016). The Mediterranean Sea, which for decades has been and continues to be subject to intense exploitation of marine resources, is likely to experience stronger bottom-up control. Professional fishing is expected to decline in the Mediterranean. In contrast, aquaculture production in Mediterranean countries of the EU is expected to more than double between 2010 and 2030 (Piante and Ody 2015).

ENERGY

Energy is central for mitigating climate change. Most of the Mediterranean greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are CO2 connected with energy use. The energy demand around the Mediterranean grows at a very high pace, especially in the Southern Mediterranean, due to increasing demographics and new electrical appliances (MedENER, OME, ADEME 2016). The growing energy demand is further accelerated by the additional demand necessary to lessen the impacts of climate change. Although the demand in heating energy decreases in winter, the cooling energy demand increases in summer. Energy sector is closely linked to industry, food production, including irrigated agriculture (Daccache et al. 2014), and water production, including its abstraction and desalinization (Siddiqi and Anadon 2011, Mathioulakis et al. 2007). Tourism and urban areas are also important consumers of energy (Plan Bleu 2008).

The availability of energy from conventional sources is limited and its environmental impacts are important. There is a big potential for renewable energy sources, especially in the South Mediterranean region (MedENER, OME, ADEME 2016). Conditions for renewable energy production, such as solar and wind energy, may be influenced by climate change (Leckebusch and Ulbrich 2004, Koletsis et al. 2016). A low water supply induced by climate change reduces energy production from hydroelectric plants, as well as from thermal power stations, which require water for cooling and for driving the turbines (Giannakopoulos et al. 2009).

13/02/2018; This article was produced by Katarzyna Marini with the support of Plan Bleu – UNEP/MAP.

 References

  • AllEnvi (ed.) (2016) The Mediterranean region under climate change. Paris : IRD Editions, 736 pp.
  • Custudio E, Andreu-Rodes JM, Aragon R. et al. (2016)
Groundwater intensive use and mining in south-eastern peninsular Spain: Hydrogeological, economic and social aspects. Science of The Total Environment, 559, 302-316
  • Daccache A, Ciurana JS, Rodriguez Diaz JA, Knox JW (2014) Water and energy footprint of irrigated agriculture in the Mediterranean region. Environmental Research Letters, 9 (12), 124014
  • Giannakopoulos C, Hadjinicolaou P, Zerefos C, Demosthenous G (2009) Changing Energy Requirements in the Mediterranean Under Changing Climatic Conditions. Energies, 2(4), 805-815
  • Giannakopoulos C, Psiloglou B (2006) Trends in energy load demand for Athens, Greece: weather and non-weather related factors. Climate Research, 13, 97-108
  • Gonçalvès J, Petersen J, Deschamps P, Hamelin B, Baba-Sy O (2013), Quantifying the modern recharge of the
  • “fossil” Sahara aquifers. Geophysical Research Letters, 40(11), 2673-2678
  • INRA/Pluriagri (2015) Addressing agricultural import dependence in the Middle East-North Africa region through the year 2050 (https://inra-dam-front-resources-cdn.brainsonic.com/ressources/afile/308329-e5409-resource-addressing-agricultural-import-dependence-in-the-middle-east-north-africa-region-through-to-the-year-2050.html; consulted on January 26, 2018)
  • Jiménez Cisneros BE, Oki T, Arnell NW, Benito G, Cogley JG, Döll P, Jiang T, Mwakalila SS (2014) Freshwater resources. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field CB, Barros VR, Dokken DJ, Mach KJ, Mastrandrea MD, Bilir TE, Chatterjee M, Ebi KL, Estrada YO, Genova RC, Girma B, Kissel ES, Levy AN, MacCracken S, Mastrandrea PR,White LL (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 229-269
  • Koletsis I, Kotroni V, Lagouvardos K, Soukissian T (2016) 
Assessment of offshore wind speed and power potential over the Mediterranean and the Black Seas under future climate changes. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 60, 234-245
  • Kovats RS, Valentini R, Bouwer LM, Georgopoulou 
E, Jacob D, Martin E, 
Rounsevell M, Soussana JF (2014)
 Europe. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Barros VR, Field CB, Dokken DJ, Mastrandrea MD, Mach KJ, Bilir TE, Chatterjee M, Ebi KL, Estrada YO, Genova RC, Girma B, Kissel ES, Levy AN, MacCracken S, Mastrandrea PR,. White LL (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1267-1326
  • Lacirignola C, Capone R, Debs P, El Bilali H, Bottalico F (2014) Natural Resources – Food Nexus: Food-Related Environmental Footprints in the Mediterranean Countries, Frontiers in Nutrition, 1, 23
  • Leduc C, Pulido-Bosch A, Remini B (2017) Anthropization of groundwater resources in the Mediterranean region: processes and challenges. Hydrogeology Journal, 25 (6), 1529-1547
  • Link PM, Kominek J, Scheffran J (2012) Impacts of sea level rise on the coastal zones of Egypt. Mainzer Geographische Studien 55, pp. 79-94, Working paper CLISEC-25
  • Marchane A, Tramblay Y, Hanich L, Ruelland D, Jarlan L (2017)
Climate change impacts on surface water resources in the Rheraya catchment (High-Atlas, Morocco). Hydrological Sciences Journal, 62 (6), 979-995
  • Mathioulakis E, Belessiotis V, Delyannis E (2007) Desalination by using alternative energy: Review and state-of-the-art. Desalination, 203 (1-3), 346-365
  • MedENER, OME, ADEME (2016) Mediterranean Energy Transition: 2040 Scenario
  • Michelozzi P,  de’Donato F (2014) Climate changes, floods, and health consequences. Recenti Progressi in Medicina, 105(2), 48-50
  • Miraglia M, Marvin HJP, Kleter GA, Battilani P, Brera C, Coni E, Cubadda F, Croci L, De Santis B, Dekkers S, Filippi L, Hutjes RWA, Noordam MY, Pisante M, Piva G, Prandini A, Toti L, van den Born GJ, Vespermann A (2009) Climate change and food safety: An emerging issue with special focus on Europe. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 47, 1009-1021
  • Moustdraf J, Razack M,
Sinan M (2008)
Evaluation of the impacts of climate changes on the coastal Chaouia aquifer, Morocco, using numerical modeling. Hydrogeology Journal, 16(7), 1411-1426
  • Paciello MC (ed.) (2015) Building sustainable agriculture for food security in the Euro- Mediterranean area: Challenges and policy options, IAI, Rome, OCP, Rabat, 334 pp.
  • Piante C, Ody D (2015) Blue growth in the Mediterranean Sea: the challenge of good environmental status. MedTrends Project, WWF-France, 192pp
  • Plan Bleu (2003) Threats to Soils in Mediterranean Countries. Document Review. Sophia Antipolis: Plan Bleu Papers 2
  • Plan Bleu (2008) Climate Change and Energy in the Mediterranean. Sophia Antipolis
  • Plan Bleu (2014) Economic and social analysis of the uses of the coastal and marine waters in the Mediterranean, characterization and impacts of the fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and recreational activities, maritime transport and offshore extraction of oil and gas sectors. 134 p. Valbonne
  • Schilling J, Freier KP,
Hertig E, Scheffran J (2012)
Climate change, vulnerability and adaptation in North Africa with focus on Morocco. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment, 156, 12-26
  • Siddiqi A, Anadon LD (2011) The water-energy nexus in Middle East and North Africa. Energy Policy, 39, 4529-4540
  • STECF (2016) Reports of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF)-51st Plenary meeting Report (PLEN-16-01). 2016. Publications office of the European union, Luxembourg, EUR 27458 EN, JRC 101442,
95 pp
  • UNEP/MAP, Plan Bleu (2009) State of the environment and development in the Mediterranean. Technical report, Athens, 200 p.
  • UNEP/MAP (2013) State of the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Environment, UNEP/MAP — Barcelona Convention, Athens
  • Valor E, Meneu V, Caselles V (2001) Daily air temperature and electricity load in Spain. Journal of Applied Meteorology, 40, 1413-1421