Desalination Guidelines Expert

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Result of Service

Contracting Parties are efficiently and timely advised to ensure BAT and BEP for the construction and operation of desalination plants in line with the LBS, Dumping and ICZM Protocols of the Barcelona Convention.

Work Location


Expected duration

The contract will be for the period of 2 months spread over 5.5 months starting from the date of last signature.

Duties and Responsibilities

Under the direct supervision of the MED POL Programme Officer the consultant will be responsible for the following overall tasks: 

1. To deliver a state of play of desalination in the Mediterranean based on the most up to date surveys and studies as appropriate
2. To draft an updated version of MAP/MED POL Desalination guidelines to streamline ecosystem approach, GES, energy efficiency and ensure lower impacts on marine and coastal environment based on BAT and BEP.

Specific tasks

1. Review available relevant studies (i.e Plan Bleu, SWIM project, etc)
2. Prepare a state of play report on the desalination sector in the Mediterranean based on existing data and impacts on marine and coastal environment
3. Prepare a short questionnaire to complete the state of play report and develop a list of indicators to assess desalination sector
4. Identify a list of emerging pollutions from the desalination sector for monitoring purposes
5. List the most up to date desalination BAT and BEP in terms of environmental impact and energy efficiency and low rate of GHG as well as brine generation and disposal methods
6. Based on the related best practices draft the table of content of updated new/desalination guidelines taking into account inter alia the following elements:

i. Land use
ii. Energy efficiency alternatives
iii. Sea water intake, brine and other chemical discharges and releases
iv. Location
v. Oceanological conditions and use of dispersion models
vi. Transboundary effects
vii. Socio-economic impacts
viii. Monitoring programme ( list of emerging pollutants and monitoring parameters)
ix. Check list for EIA study
x. Classification of desalination technology according environmental impacts, BAT and BEP
xi. Model of permit for construction/extension of sea water desalination plant and operation conditions

7. Develop updated new/desalination guidelines
8. Provide technical advice to Expert review meeting and MED POL FP meeting to review and complete the updated/new desalination guidelines
9. Draft a policy paper on potential measures on desalination in the Mediterranean

Qualifications/special skills

Skills: – Good communication skills: ability to write reports in English or French
-Good knowledge in office automation software (Word, Excel, Power Point) required
Academic Qualifications: Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in environmental science and related disciplines (water management, energy efficiency, marine pollution, desalination management)
Experience: – At least five (5) years of progressively responsible work in the above mentioned fields including at least two (2) years at the regional/international level
– Knowledge and experience in desalination impacts and assessment and monitoring
Language: Fluency in English or French

Additional information

Sea water desalination has a long time been a major source of water in parts of the Mediterranean to meet water demands. Several Mediterranean riparian countries have to grapple with several challenges to sustainably manage limited water resources, to ensure access to drinking water by not-yet-serviced populations, and to urge the users to adopt water sparing behaviors. Due to climate change, the forecast rise in temperature and drop in rainfall would lead, indeed, both to a reduction of resources and an increase in demand. The first response to these evolutions consists in engaging water demand management policies likely to reduce losses and misuse, reduce and prevent water pollution as well as manage the resource equitably while endeavoring to meet the various uses. The non-conventional forms of water supply such as seawater or brackish water desalination also proves to be necessary, thus, constituting one of the possible responses to adapt to the increasing shortage of water resources.

The Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBS) and Dumping Protocols of the UNEP/MAP Barcelona Convention provide an advanced legal framework for the regulation of waste disposal and releases into the Mediterranean Sea in an environmental sound manner. As desalination plant wastes are typically discharged directly through coastal outfalls or can be disposed of by ships, they fall under the provisions of both Protocols. Desalination plants require large quantities of energy, under the form of heat or of electricity, both of which are costly and potential sources of GHG emissions. In accordance with Article 14 of the ICZM Protocol, potential direct and cumulative indirect environmental impacts of projects on coastal area, including desalination plants, shall be considered.

UNEP MAP has developed desalination guidelines in 2004 that has been largely used by the Contracting Parties. Taking into account that recently the desalination sector has recognised extensive development, there is a need to undertake an evaluation of the implementation of these guidelines. Moreover, on the basis of the implementation of lesson learnt, the most recent relevant developments of know-how, BAT ad BEP, as well as the state of play of the desalination sector in the Mediterranean, including assessment of impacts on marine and coastal environment, it is necessary to update as appropriate the 2004 guidelines in order to provide the Contracting Parties with adequate technical guidance with the view to reduce to a minimum all environmental impacts and enhance energy efficiency of desalination plans as well as to maintain GES.

In this respect, the MED POL Programme of UNEP/MAP needs the services of a regional technical desalination expert to undertake an analysis of the state of play of the implementation of the 2004 UNEP/MAP desalination guidelines and recommend updated/new guidelines for consideration of an expert meeting and the MED POL FPs meeting.