Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) announced the creation of a new mechanism for regional cooperation on water resources in the Middle East to be fully owned and driven by experts in the region, building on the decade long Blue Peace Initiative.
Leading water experts from the Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have decided to establish a new regional mechanism for sustainable and collaborative management of water resources in the Middle East, with effect from January 2019. The main objective of the proposed mechanism is to create a soft infrastructure of dialogue for confidence building and capacity building of policy makers in the water sector and wider public. This is proposed to be achieved through collaborative projects beginning with a regional exploration of efficiency enhancement in irrigation, which is the largest consumer of water. It is hoped that the promotion of better understanding between the countries will also contribute to an atmosphere of peace and stability.
The new regional mechanism will be managed by representatives of important institutions and eminent experts from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey (with plans to invite Iran as well). They have formed a Managing Committee of experts from all the five countries with Mr Hassan Sarikaya, former Deputy Minister of Water Resources of Turkey as the Interim Chairman. The Turkish Water Institute (SUEN) in Istanbul will function as the Coordination Office for 2019-2020.
The new mechanism is taking birth under the auspices of the Blue Peace Initiative in the Middle East. The initiative was conceived in 2009 by Strategic Foresight Group (SFG), an international think tank based in Mumbai. It has been supported by the Governments of Switzerland and Sweden with additional support from national institutions and universities in Jordan and Turkey. The initiative presented the first Blue Peace Report in February 2011 with a comprehensive menu of policy proposals. Since then, several specific reports have been published.
The Blue Peace Initiative has built a community of practise of more than 200 opinion makers including politicians, civil servants, media persons, and experts. Its activities have included learning journeys to shared river basins in Asia, Africa and Europe; collaborative scientific research by experts from different countries; intellectual support to policy discourse between governments; regular workshops of policy and decision makers; outreach to over 30 million people through 500 articles and TV programmes.
The initiative was led by a High Level Group chaired by HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, following the publication of the first Blue Peace Report in 2011. The newly formed Managing Committee intends to invite His Royal Highness to chair the Policy Advisory Committee to be formed to support their work. It is also expected that the Government of Switzerland and Sweden will extend their cooperation to the new initiative.
SFG has congratulated the newly formed Managing Committee of the regional mechanism, chosen in an assembly of water experts held in Stockholm on 30-31 August 2018. It is the policy of SFG to introduce new concepts for peace and cooperation in different parts of the world and then transfer the management to regional stakeholders. It has successfully created and transferred the management of cooperative initiatives in Africa and South Asia in the past. The SFG is delighted to see the birth of a new regional mechanism at an important time in the Middle East.
Interim Chairperson – Dr Hasan Sarikaya (Turkey)
- Ms Zeina Majdalani, Economic Expert & Civil Engineer, Office of the Prime Minister
- Dr Nadim Farajalla, Program Director, Climate Change and Environment, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut)
- Dr Hakam Al Alami, Advisor to HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan
- Ms Maysoon Zoubi, senior expert in water management
- Dr Hasan Sarikaya, former State Secretary of Government of Turkey
- Ahmet Mete Saatci, President, Turkish Water Institute (SUEN)
- Dr Maha Alziydi, Dijlah University College
- Mr Dhafer Abdalla Hussain, Advisor to Ministry of Water Resources, Iraq
- Dr Ihab Jnad, Head of Land Management and Water Use Department, Arab Center for the Study of Arid Zones and Dry lands (ACSAD)
- To be invited