Regional water experts at a high-level workshop on water diplomacy, peace-building and conflict management on 28 February 2022 stressed the importance of joint scientific research and knowledge sharing in the Middle East region.
The event was held as part of the Blue Peace Days at the Swiss Pavilion of Dubai Expo 2020. It was organised by the Water Diplomacy Centre (WDC), a research and training facility established at the end of 2019 at Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and in cooperation with the University of East Anglia, as part of the Blue Peace Middle East (BPME) initiative.
Among the speakers, Prof. Mark Zeitoun, the Director-General of the Geneva Water Hub, summarised the lessons learned from the Yarmouk Futures programme and research project that was carried out under the BPME and examined the shared Yarmouk River Basin from hydrological, hydrogeological, geographical, historical, legal and ethnographic perspectives.
Prof. Saeb Khresat, former JUST President and WDC Co-Founder, provided more details on the training and capacity building activities carried out as part of the Yarmouk Futures programme.
Prof. Majed Abu-Zreig, the current WDC Director, said the centre has to date hosted water diplomacy and negotiation trainings for more than 500 people. He also outlined the centre’s current and planned activities and emphasised the growing importance of water diplomacy for governments across the region.
Eng. Maysoon Al-Zoubi, the former Secretary-General of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in Jordan and a member of the BPME Managing Committee, provided a Jordanian perspective on transboundary water management.
She stressed the importance of showing the general public that cooperation over water is positive, adding that countries should develop a new mechanism to share the benefits of water, instead of focusing on allocation.
“Water is scarce and there is no time to lose,” she said. “We must achieve fair cooperation over water in the region.”