Creating Water for a Sustainable Future: A Regional Forum in Amman, Jordan

Final Report Abstract

On 15-16 September 1999, a group of cooperating non-government organizations (NGOs) that included the Middle East Water & Energy Resources Institute (MEWERI), the International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC), the Center for Middle East Peace & Economic Cooperation (CMEPEC), the Peres Center for Peace, and Green Cross International held a two-day Water Workshop in Amman, Jordan. Over 60 key water officials, leading academics, and private sector leaders attended. The event provided a forum for the release of the CMEPEC's "white paper" entitled, Solving the Problem of Fresh Water Scarcity in Israel, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank, which has been widely published and cited in international water literature. The IALC was very ably represented at the workshop by its executive vice president Dr. Donald A. Hegwood, who participated actively in all activities.

On the second day of the workshop, the group passed a resolution that called on the three governments of Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority to work separately for individual new water supply developments (they were unwilling, for regional political reasons, to directly cooperate) with the idea that MEWERI would then work to integrate the compatible elements of each government's national priorities into a regional strategy.

Following the Amman Workshop in February 2000, a further information gathering Mission was organized by the CMEPEC team and led by Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev and Mr. Wayne Owens. During this Mission, private meetings were held with President Arafat, King Abdullah and Prime Minister Barak (then separately with each government's water management officials) to better understand their views on the water problem, to hear their specific ideas on how it could be solved, and to explain the group's objectives.

The background and information gathered from both the Amman Workshop and the follow-up Mission enabled the team to present ideas on solving water scarcity problems of the region at the World Water Forum (WWF) in The Hague, Netherlands, on 17 March 2000. Involvement in the WWF also enabled the MEWERI and the NGO team to coordinate its strategy and direction with leaders and key members of the Middle East Multi-Lateral Water Working Group.