High Level Roundtable on water and peace in the Middle East
October 6, 2016

Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) partnered with Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflicts at Harris Manchester College of Oxford University, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Human Security Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Switzerland to bring together ministers and parliamentarians from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey for a high level meeting at the House of Lords in London on 26 September, 2016.

The meeting was held to explore prospects of regional cooperation for using water as an instrument of peace in the Middle East.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Right Honourable Lord Alderdice and SFG President Dr Sundeep Waslekar.

Laying emphasis upon the need to find a way ahead for daunting disputes, SDC Assistant Director General, Ambassador Pio Wennubst explained the importance of resilience and continuation in the process of dialogue in the Middle East.

The meeting proposed several tracks for cooperation in the Middle East.

Bilateral Track: it is useful to strengthen all bilateral efforts for water cooperation with technical support, training and investments, where initiatives for cooperation are rewarded. 

Regional Technical Track: it is important to have training programmes for experts in the Ministries of Water Resources and Government owned water institutes for data exchange, harmonization of measuring standards, calibration of data and technical cooperation. 

Regional Political Track: it is necessary to build a quasi-formal process which should then gradually evolve into a formal political process. It can be initiated by the frontline states surrounding Syria and eventually be expanded to cover Syria and other neighbouring countries. It should also transcend vertically with an eventual possibility of the engagement of top government leaders. 

These three tracks should pave the way for practical projects, which are modest in the beginning and gradually assume larger space. Some participants suggested an educational platform where young people from the region can study together about regional cooperation. There should be a linkage between efforts involving experts and efforts involving politicians. 

The experts can inform the leaders about evidence on the need for sustainable trans-boundary water management. All efforts being made by different actors should eventually go in one direction. Finally, the importance of public awareness cannot be underestimated. Hence, the media and the academia have an important role to play

For the list of participants and the conference report, click here

For photographs, click here