It’s been a while since I posted news of Israeli and Palestinian collaboration on solving a shared environmental problem – here’s news of high level work amongst international water experts on one of the critical outstanding issues for Israelis and Palestinians – a joint redefinition of water needs. (The ‘Peres’ in the ‘Peres Centre for Peace‘ is the Israeli President, Shimon Peres). The consensus is:
- There is a basic human need for water resources of approximately 60 m3 per capita per year for human health, hygiene and running a water efficient economy that permits sufficient social and economic development to allow progress towards providing all people with a high quality of life.
- After this basic human need has been met, priority must be given to providing water for base flows in rivers and streams to prevent ecosystem collapse, and water for livelihoods for vulnerable groups that lack any alternative economic opportunities.
- Water surplus to these basic needs must be allocated between nations on an equitable basis, and subsequently allocated to economic uses relating to such production activities as those nations choose through their own internal processes, while taking into consideration principles of economic efficiency, social equity, environmental sustainability and international water law.
More work is needed on the principles of allocation, and this is related to the still-awaited final status agreement:
Oren Blonder from The Peres Center for Peace summarized:“ The purpose of the Water Needs in Middle East Initiative is to identify and agree upon possible definitions of water needs. Once these definitions will be elucidated, they will be used by Israeli and Palestinian experts, assembled by Green Cross and the Peres Center for Peace, together with the Jerusalem Institute and Palestinian Hydrology Group, to formulate water need scenarios for Israel/Palestine“. Upon completion of the research, a final conference will be held in Paris and the potential outcomes resulting from the project will be examined, as will the potential effects of the project on the revival of the Palestinian and Israeli water sectors. The results of this research will play an instrumental role in the final status negotiations.