As part of the Blue Peace Days at Expo Dubai 2020, the members of the Regional Mechanism’s Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) and Managing Committee (MC) held a joint meeting on 27 February – the first in-person meeting in more than two years – to assess the BPME’s recent achievements and reflect on the way forward.
In his opening remarks to the meeting organized by SUEN as the Coordination Office, Mr. Simon Zbinden, the Head of Switzerland’s Global Programme Water, reiterated his country’s commitment to the BPME initiative. “We remain committed to promoting water diplomacy and facilitating regional cooperation,” he said. “We want to contribute to solid and robust solutions.”
Dr. André Wehrli, Senior Water Policy Advisor at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, said that BPME’s Regional Mechanism was today more needed than ever and urged members to reflect on how the mechanism could be further developed.
Dr. Marwan Alraggad, Executive Director of INWRDAM, briefly presented the findings and recommendations of the White Paper on Water Diplomacy in the Middle East.
Agricultural water management expert, Mr. Melvyn Kay, presented the outcomes and recommendations of the BPME’s Agricultural Water Use Efficiency in the Middle East project that will be completed by May 2022.
Mr. Mustafa Sarıkaya, Project Leader of the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency project implemented by SUEN (Coordination Office), presented the details on the completed, ongoing and planned activities undertaken in the scope of the project. He noted that the majority of project actions are completed and that a workshop is planned to be organized in May 2022 to discuss the report outcomes and recommendations on agricultural water use efficiency. Mr. Sarıkaya made another presentation on the options of new thematic activities for the future based on the inputs of the MC members.
In addition, members of the PAC and MC discussed the future vision and structure of the Regional Mechanism, as well as ways of strengthening the synergies between the PAC and MC as the BPME enters its next phase in 2023.
The chair of the PAC, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, addressed the meeting by video link with concluding remarks in which he urged members to double down on their efforts to strengthen regional cooperation over transboundary water. “Business as usual is not an option for the future,” he warned. “We need to make better use of our existing resources, including our ability to think for ourselves.”
As one of the BPME’s 5th MC meeting decisions, Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) nexus was identified as the new umbrella theme for the BPME initiative’s next phase. A dedicated Working Group was formed which will work with the Coordination Office over the coming weeks to develop a draft proposal detailing the different subthemes and projects that could be carried out as part of the WEFE theme.