Designing innovative local water governance using a living lab: Wadi el Bey Case study- Tunisia

Thuraya Mellah1,2, Hatem Baccouche2 , Salah Jellali3 , George P. Karatzas4 , Pier Paolo Roggero5,6 , Hanene Akrout2

1 Higher School of Digital Economy(ESEN)- University of Manouba

2 Wastewater and Environment Laboratory, Water Research and Technology Center CERTE, P.O. Box 273, Soliman 8020, Tunisia

3PEIE Research Chair for the Development of Industrial Estates and Free Zones, Center for Environmental Studies and Research, Sultan Qaboos University, Al-Khoud 123, Muscat, Oman

4 Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Greece

5 Dipartimento di Agraria, University of Sassari, Viale Italia 39 07100 Sassari Italy

6 Nucleo di Ricerca sulla Desertificazione, University of Sassari, Viale Italia 39 07100 Sassari Italy


In this work, the living lab is used to co-design innovative institutional arrangements to govern and sustainably manage local water resources. The co-creation process is carried out according to a decentralized participatory and actor-centered approach and using the social learning concept. The stakeholders involved in water management, including local authorities, users, citizens and researchers, are brought together to analyse the sustainability issues of the social-ecological system at the Wadi El Bey watershed level. The researchers have designed the Wadi el Bey living lab as a social arena where the local actors can meet. At the first stage of this process, and until the consensus on the new governance is reached, the actors are guided via various activities such as participatory mapping, inversing role, and expressing motivations and expectations. These interactive activities aimed to build a relevant, comprehensive, and common vision on the issues related to the management of local groundwater resources.

KEYWORDS: innovative governance, sustainability, living lab, Wadi el Bey. 

Living Labs towards sustainable groundwater management: case study in Malia, Crete, Greece, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 April

George Karatzas1Anthi-Eirini Vozinaki1, Ioannis Trichakis1,2, Ioanna Anyfanti1, Christina Stylianoydaki1, Emmanouil Varouchakis1, Christos Goumas1, Pier Paolo Roggero3, Thuraya Mellah4,5, Hanene Akrout5, and Seifeddine Jomaa6

  • 1Technical University of Crete, School of Environmental Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Chania, Greece (
  • 2European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Italy
  • 3University of Sassari (UNISS), Italy
  • 4Higher School of Digital Economy (ESEN), University Manouba
  • 5Wastewaters and Environment Laboratory, Centre of water research and technologies (CERTE), University of Carthage
  • 6Department of Aquatic Ecosystem Analysis and Management, Helmholtz Centre for Environment Research - UFZ, Magdeburg, Germany

This work carries the social learning process out via Living Labs in order to construct a common vision on sustainable groundwater management. In this process, the scientific and local knowledge are integrated. This study is part of Sustain-COAST project co-funded by PRIMA programme. Stakeholders’ active engagement is realized via Living Labs, which are participatory actions that encourage the dialogue among private and public actors, create institutionalized space for discussion and vision sharing, and analyze the stakeholder-suggested mitigation options.

A stakeholder mapping took place, that is  the list of all the key groups, organizations, and people involved to water management in the study area. Further analysis was carried out to better understand stakeholders’ roles and perspectives, within the first Living Lab, organized in Malia. 55 stakeholders interacted gathered, including water users, policy makers, local and regional authorities, water management and supply associations, socio-ecological and cultural associations, NGOs, citizens, technicians, external experts, scientists.

Stakeholders got involved in social learning actions, knowing each other, expressed their motivations and expectations to participate in the first Living Lab and the project. Afterwards, a participatory session followed by implementing digital ICT tools (Mentimeter App.), which is an opinion survey technique that might improve societal awareness and stakeholders’ active engagement in water management. Afterwards, an interactive participatory map activity took place, which enabled the study site’s characterization according to key-stakeholders’ perception, knowledge, and expertise on water management issues in the area. Stakeholders collaborated in groups and filled maps of the study area with significant spatial data and information. Participants were asked to express their common vision on Malia in an entertaining puzzle activity.

The aforementioned interactive sessions enabled the extraction of the raised water issues in Malia as well as the suggestion of possible options . The need for sustainable and balanced development taking into account principles of law and equal accessibility for all was specifically noted by stakeholders. Stakeholders evaluated the Living Labs as an innovative interactive and interesting way of exchanging views among institutions and citizens, through participation and technological means. Living Labs are expected to provide significant information exchange among institutions and actors and provide realistic and socially acceptable suggestions for the local community.

Stakeholders are directly involved and motivated to maintain their active engagement in a long-lasting process via future Living Labs in Malia. Such actions increase governance capacity by addressing people’s skills in jointly decision-making and engaging stakeholders in a social learning process through participation. Actions that encourage dialogue among different actors and use innovative mediation techniques form the best options to improve and integrate water governance.


Keywords: Living Labs; Innovative governance; Water resources management; Stakeholder mapping; Social learning processes; Stakeholders’ engagement


The PRIMA programme is an Art.185 initiative supported and funded under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Programme for Research and Innovation.

The project is funded by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology of the Ministry of Development and Investments under the PRIMA Programme. PRIMA is an Art.185 initiative supported and co-funded under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Programme for Research and Innovation.

Groundwater assessment in the Mediterranean region: Regional modelling and in-situ data across scales, Solicuted talk, EGU General Assembly 2021, 19-30 April

Ben-Salem, N., Reinecke, R., Gómez-Hernández, J. J., Karatzas, G., Rode, M., and Jomaa, S.


Groundwater is a valuable resource throughout the world. It supplies the needs of many sectors everywhere. Providing high spatial resolution groundwater data is important for climatic, hydrological and agricultural applications, to ensure sustainable groundwater management. The scarcity of high-resolution groundwater data over large scales at the required accuracy is a significant limitation for such applications. This study was undertaken in the Mediterranean region, which is recognized as one of the world's most sensitive regions to water scarcity due to both climate change and consistently increasing anthropogenic pressures. Groundwater is considered a strategic freshwater reserve in the Mediterranean region; however, its status remains poorly characterized. This study investigates the feasibility of downscaling outputs of three global groundwater models (Reinecke et al. (2019), de Graaf et al. (2017) and Fan et al. (2013)) to higher resolution.

Steady-state results of the three models were compared with in-situ groundwater level observations, and an aggregation method was developed for downscaling. Observations from a long-term groundwater monitoring network over different regional studies around the Mediterranean were employed. Results showed that there is a significant discrepancy between the three compared model outputs. More specifically, the de Graaf et al. (2017) model presents a deeper water table than Reinecke et al. (2019) and Fan et al. (2013), while de Graaf et al. (2017) generally shows more significant variability in simulated water table depth. A detailed comparison between simulated and measured water table depth of different Mediterranean aquifers having different climatic, geologic and anthropogenic conditions will be presented.

The results of this work will contribute to advance the understanding of how to combine large-scale groundwater modelling with local in-situ data as a crucial tool to improve groundwater management in data-scarce regions.

This work was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Germany, Grant 01DH19015) under the Project Sustain-COAST, co-funded by EU PRIMA 2018 programme.

Combination of regional modelling and in-situ data analysis for groundwater assessment in the Mediterranean region. AGU Fall Meeting 2020 01-17 December

Ben-Salem, N., Reinecke, R., Wachholz, A., Rode, M., Borchardt, D., and Jomaa, S.


The Mediterranean region is recognized as a climate change and anthropogenic pressures hotspot, especially with the high seasonality of precipitation and increased water demands. The coastal areas, in particular, are significantly vulnerable to the effect of this critical situation. In such conditions, groundwater plays a fundamental role in water security in the Mediterranean region. Groundwater is considered as a strategic freshwater reserve. However, its status remains poorly characterized, and its total budget uncertain.


In this study, we argue that large-scale groundwater modelling has shown great potential for improvement of our physical understanding of groundwater systems functioning and to the guidance of implementing science-based adaptation and sustainable mitigation measures in the Mediterranean.

In recent years, groundwater modelling has moved from local to regional/global scale, offering insights into the status of data-scarce regions. However, it remains unclear to what extent those models can be used to support management decisions. This study aims to evaluate the performance of three global gradient-based groundwater models to represent the groundwater levels at steady-state and transient regimes in different Mediterranean aquifers.

In this investigation, the groundwater models of Fan et al. (2013), de Graaf et al. (2017), and Reinecke et al. (2019) are used. Comparison between the groundwater level predictions of the three models was conducted. Then, comparison between the water table depths simulated by each model with the corresponding in-situ data in three case studies: La Mancha aquifer in Spain, an island aquifer in Crete, Greece and the Cap Bon Peninsula in Tunisia, were performed.

Preliminary results showed that there is a large discrepancy between the three compared model outputs. More specifically, the de Graaf et al. (2017) model presents a deeper water table than Reinecke et al. (2019) and Fan et al. (2013), while de Graaf et al. (2017) generally shows greater variability in simulated water table depth.

This study contributes in enhancing the role of regional-scale groundwater modeling as an important tool in assessing and predicting changes in groundwater levels in data-scarce regions, under considerable climate variability and increasing anthropogenic pressures.

Sustain-COAST Deliverable 2.1: Report on the real sites characterization