Water in the Middle East 2007

Responsible Water Management and Water Risks in the 21st Century

Time: Monday, October 8, 14:30 - 16:00
Venue: Žofín Palace, Knights' Hall

Bedřich Moldan, Senator, Chairman of the European Environment Agency, Czech Republic

Panel Discussion:
Martin Bursík, Minister of Environment, Czech Republic
Graham Mackay, CEO, SABMiller, South Africa/UK
Aaron T. Wolf, Professor, Oregon State University, USA 
Mats Karlsson, Country Director for Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, World Bank, Sweden
Miriam Balaban, Secretary General, European Desalination Society, Italy
Jitzchak Alster, Advocate, Shimoni, Alster & Raziel, Israel

Responsible, equitable and effective water resource management is a long-term focus of the Forum 2000 Foundation - Exploring Water Patterns in the Middle East (EWaP) initiative. Over a series of events organized by EWaP a number of issues have been discussed, not only in the regional context, but also beyond the borders of the Middle East.

The water goals for the 21st century include, in general, basic human needs for water and sanitation for all, protection of the environment and the peaceful resolution of water conflicts. The tools and concepts for achieving these water goals point to water management. The evaluation of contemporary responsible water management concepts requires that we test them against water-related risks of the coming decades, which include water availability for business operations, extreme hydrological events (e.g. drought, flood, etc.), ethically and environmentally unsustainable patterns of water distribution (e.g. bottled water in the 3rd world), the water-sanitation gap, the vulnerability of water networks to violent attacks, the adverse environmental impacts of water infrastructure, etc..
Forum 2000 has to date organized a series of events with a variety of leadership personalities engaged in water issues. These workshops and roundtables have been aimed at collecting diverse views, approaches and expertise, and transforming them into tangible conclusions. These conclusions and recommendations are now available and on this basis, it is time to move on and outline available policy and funding options for the development of the water sector.

  • What obstacles in your field must be confronted to meet expected water needs in the 21st century? What steps must your field take to overcome those obstacles?
  • Without private investment it will be impossible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals water targets. What incentives can drive and spur investment in water-related services?
  • How can the partitioning of responsibility for water management between the public and private sector mitigate 21st century water risks?
  • Are current water management practices (e.g. Integrated Water Resource Management) flexible enough to manage forecasted water risks of the 21st Century?
  • How does the ongoing privatization of public water companies/utilities effect the poor and politically powerless?
  • Decreasing water availability in some regions may disrupt supply chains in many industries. What can be done within the business community to manage and mitigate such disruptions?

Securing Water Supplies in the Middle East - Policy and Funding Alternatives

Time: Monday, October 8, 12:00 - 13:30
Venue: Žofín Palace, Knights' Hall

Michael Žantovský, Ambassador to Israel, Former Press Secretary of the President, Czech Republic

Panel Discussion:
Aaron T. Wolf, Professor, Oregon State University, USA 
Hüseyin Bağci, Professor, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
Murad Bino, Director, Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management, Jordan
Nader Khateeb, Director, Friends of the Earth, Palestine
Yavuz Çubuçku, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey
Shimon Tal, CEO, Tal ConTent, Israel

Trans-boundary water infrastructure projects in the Middle East region face an array of financial, political, socio-economic, and environmental constraints. The Red Sea – Dead Sea project remains at the feasibility-study stage, the Manavgat River project, imagined to deliver water from Turkey to Israel and Jordan, has been deferred and joint projects involving Palestine remain in the distant future.
Virtually every water project sited on an international river has to deal with trans-boundary impacts downstream, and nations seeking feasible unilateral solutions ought to follow the way of water conservation, desalination and improve water efficiency.
But the price of a unit of desalinated water will eventually hit a price floor, at which point it may still be considerably higher than conventional water sources, not to the impact of energy prices on the price of water.
Technical solutions were successful in solving the water problems of the 20th century, but the implementation of these solutions in the 21st century may be curbed by the high level of uncertainty in economy, society and ecosystem behavior. Therefore problem-solving without structural change and appropriate institutional support will limit the security of the water supply.
The panel will review both contemporary water policy and funding in the Middle East and develop concrete recommendations for funding options for international water-related projects and national water policy alternatives.

  • What are the most critical policy measures needed to enhance groundwater-use efficiency in the trans-boundary aquifers of the Middle East? What efforts in the field of international law are needed to support these policy measures?
  • How should international and national financing be allocated? Should it be concentrated on building supply through large-scale water projects, making changes to national water policy unnecessary?
  • Is the primary objective for international water cooperation to secure water supplies or to improve international relations in the area? Does economic rationale or environmental sustainability stand a chance against the will to manifest neighborly relations?
  • What are the primary political, economic and environmental constraints for delaying the implementation of international water projects in the Middle East?
  • Water and politics are inextricably connected in the Middle East. What is the best strategy for minimizing the negative effects of the most contentious issues in the region, which are not directly related to water?
  • What reforms need to be made on the regional, national and sub-national level?
  • While international funds flow into the region, what reforms need to be made on the recipient side (i.e. state, municipal) to improve the effectiveness use of the funds?
  • What can Middle East countries learn from each other with regard to policy and funding (i.e. Israel's red line) for the sake of water?
  • What actions can be taken to promote water saving policies in the region, i.e. can religion play a positive role in the process?

Water Issues in the Middle East Society, Environment, Religion: Listening to the Voice of Civil Society

Time: April 4, 2007
Venue: Tyršův Palace, Prague; Marble Hall

List of participants:
Murad Bino, Inter Islamic Network on Water Resources, Jordan
Shaul Manor, Peres Center, Israel
Isam Sabbah, Galilee Society Regional Resource and Development Center
Robin Twite, Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, Israel/Palestine

Points of departure

  • Brief presentations by the participants on their focus and the work of their organizations (10 minutes each)
  • Powerpoint may be used; printed materials sent by the participants can be distributed

Closed Workshop: Administration and Development of Water Sector: Position of Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Moderated discussion, participants are requested to prepare some thoughts and initiatives for discussion
  • Questions to be addressed:
  • How serious is the depletion, pollution and degradation of water resources? Is it time to change the current approaches?
  • Big projects (e.g. Red Sea – Dead Sea) – What social and environmental risks are threatening?
  • Is distribution of water resources fair and equitable? Does social inequality get reflected in water availability?
  • What does civil society and religion have to say?
  • Should some water-intensive agriculture be maintained or eliminated
  • To what extent should water-related services be privatized?
  • What is the current role of non-governmental organizations and what is the ideal one?

Closed workshop: Is there an Ethos of Water in the Middle East?

Moderated discussion, participants are requested to prepare some thoughts and initiatives for discussion

  • Questions to be addressed:
  • Can the specific Middle Eastern experience with water resources be summarized and formulated? How? Are there values and lessons learned?
  • What can the Middle East contribute to the global view (water as a UNDP priority, Millennium Development goals etc.)
  • The importance of education about water, its consumption and treatment
  • Shared water resources – do they bear more potential for conflict or cooperation?
  • Can water resources become one the few focal points for a peaceful and sustainable resolution of conflicts in the Middle East???

Public roundtable: “Water and Drought in the Middle East: the View of NGOs”

  • Presentations by the participants (ca. 10 minutes each) for the audience and ensuing question-and-answer session; presentations should not go into much depth but rather give an overall picture of the pressing problems, needs and opportunities from the participants’ view (i.e. should explain the situation)
  • Powerpoint may be used, but oral presentations will be sufficient
  • Audience: representatives of Czech non-governmental organizations and development community, young people (students), general public

Conclusions and recommendations

  • Brainstorming and discussion
  • Focus: Where to go next? What role should civil society play? Where can each participant’s organization do a major share of work? Can Forum 2000 also tangibly contribute?
  • A list of recommendations...

South Valley Development Project

A Look at Egypt’s South Valley Development Project

Despite Egypt’s history of big solutions – the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dams - to floods and trade, and in those respects to development on the whole, its burgeoning population remains constrained to a tiny fraction of the country’s total land area. Seventy million Egyptians live on a scant four to five percent of the country’s land, mostly along the Nile River and Delta. It is a demographic anecdote that roughly corresponds to Egypt’s 3.4 million hectares of cultivated land, a scant 3 percent of the country’s total land area whose expansion, for the past two centuries, has been outstripped by Egypt’s population growth. And Egypt’s population continues to grow, making a crisis more and more palpable. Indeed, mitigating the country’s lack of arable land and heavy overcrowded cities is a high priority of President Hosni Mubarak’s government. The government’s solution is to implement more big solutions, all under the umbrella of the New Valley Project, in order to expand the country’s inhabitable land to 25 percent by 2017.

The South Valley Development Project, also called the Toshka project, is perhaps Egypt’s most widely publicized mega project within the New Valley scheme, and the focus of the Forum 2000 Foundation’s Exploring Water Patterns in the Middle East’s (EWaP) close-up on water activity in the Middle East region for 2007. In December, the EWaP team visited Egypt’s southern valley to see the controversial Toshka project firsthand. During the short trip EWaP visited the colossal Mubarak Pumping Station and the private farm of the Kingdom Agricultural Development Company (KADCO). If successful, the Toshka project will redraw Egypt’s demographic map in the south.

Documents and outcomes

Voice of civil society

South valley development

Exploring water patterns


Previous years

Water in the Middle East 2010
October 10, 2010 - October 12, 2010
Water in the Middle East 2009
September 21, 2009 - September 22, 2009
Water in the Middle East 2008
September 10, 2008 - September 11, 2008
Water in the Middle East 2006
October 9, 2006 - October 10, 2006
Water in the Middle East 2005
September 10, 2005 - September 11, 2005