The potential collaboration for sharing water data and knowledge across the Arab Region brought together over 35 water experts from around the world in an intense two-day meeting, held in Amman, Jordan on the 25th-27th November 2014. The meeting addressed water security as a globally important issue, and focused on the critical near-term water needs of the Middle East. The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) in cooperation with the UNEP-GEMS, the Eye on Water Security Special Initiative, and the R-Know program co-sponsored the important event. The objective of the meeting was to identify common challenges, to raise awareness about existing stakeholders and their programs across the region and to create synergies and opportunities for collaborative efforts. GPC Group has been involved with EAD/AGEDI and UNEP in the formulation and development of the AGEDI program since 2003.
Mark Sorensen President of the Group participated in meeting to deliver a presentation on ‘Navigating the Politics of Water in the Arab Region’, stating “Water security is at its core a transnational issue that is both scientifically complex and politically charged. At present the information about the extremely broad and interdependent nexus of water, energy and food security matters is scattered and bound up in scientific reports and journal articles. We need to get this information to policy makers and the public in an understandable manner, much as the documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ did for raising awareness about climate change in 2006.” Mark further supported AGEDI staff in conducting a facilitated discussion about the refinement and expansion of the Eye On Earth – Eye on Water Security Special Initiative, with a focus on the Arab Region but also linking to other related initiatives internationally.
The Eye on Water Security is one of 8 Special Initiatives that resulted from the 2011 Eye On Earth Summit and supported partially by the EAD. The meeting had representation from several countries across the Region including the UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Oman, Iraq, Morocco and other and international participation from UNEP, IUCN, UCC-Ireland, BfG Germany, US-EPA, CEU Hungary, GPC-GIS and other organizations. The agenda was packed with interesting presentations and discussions covering a broad range of topics from current regional programs addressing water security to the National Reporting Toolkit under development by UNEP and AGEDI. There was an overwhelming consensus across the group that water security is a critical concern throughout the Region that will become even more critical in the coming year. The meeting also highlighted that water issues don’t stop at national boundaries and cooperative efforts regarding this critical and politically sensitive matter is a regional imperative for sustainable development, prosperity and peace. The meeting results are being compiled into a strategic plan for regional collaboration.