Water – the element of cooperation and neither of conflict or hostility in the Arab world
This is the key message of the 3rd German-Arab Water Forum which was held from May 31 – June 2. For the third time high-ranking representatives from economics, politics and science from the Arab region accepted EMA’s invitation and gathered in Amman Chamber of Commerce in Jordan.
The EMA-delegation of around 70 persons and 250 Jordanian participants were welcomed in the conference by HE Issa Haider Murad, President of the Amman Chamber of Commerce, EMA-President Christian Wulff, Former Federal President of Germany and HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, CEO of TAG-Org.
HE Dr. Hazim El-Nasser, Minister of Water and Irrigation highlighted in his speech in particular the role of the forum as platform for governments, donors and the private sector to discover and match the needs.
Honorary President of EMA and patron of the Forum, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal delivered the keynote. He highlighted that water and human security can only be achieved by close cooperation with the international community and regional stability. HRH concluded by saying “There is a growing need to understand carrying capacity, and build a capability to equitably accommodate the needs of its population and to ensure human security and dignity.”
High-ranking experts contributed with valuable insights to the panel discussion and workshops of the conference that featured a wide range of topics. HE Mohamad Al-Machnouk, Minister of Environment of Lebanon and his Iraqi counterpart, HE Dr. Qutaiba al Joubari stressed the importance of water in the future.
In light of the current refugee crises in Yemen and Somali, Djibouti Minister of Agriculture and Figheries HE Mohamad Awaleh informed about water management challenges in Djibouti.
Representatives of UNHCR, UNICEF and the ICRC informed about the current refugee situation in Jordan and the bordering countries. In particular the need to convert short term crisis management into long term solutions was discussed.
HE Shahira Wahbi, Head of Sustainable Development and International Cooperation, emphasized the need of close cooperation of the Arab states to face current challenges in the water sector.
The closing ceremony affirmed the strong partnership of economics and politics between Germany and the Arab region and recognized Germany as the first and most important partner with regard to water technology.
On June 1, the framework program included a visit to the Refugee Camp at Zaatari in the Northern area of Jordan that is suffering most from the refugee pressure. During a reception and tour of Al Al-Beit University in Mafraq as well as during visits in Zaatari Camp and the Khirbet As-Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant, the delegation was able to gain an insight into the local water infrastructure.
Furthermore, a visit of the archaeological site Umm El-Jimal and a reception by Mohammad Sayyah Al-Oun in Qada’a Sabha gave an impression of the historical and cultural values as well as Jordanian hospitality.
On June 2, the delegation moved on to Aqaba, Jordan’s port on the Red Sea. After a reception in the Aqaba Chamber of Commerce, site visits of the local water works and investment projects provided valuable insights. Amongst the projects visited was also the Disi Project, which aims to guarantee the water security of Jordan’s capital Amman. In the desert valley of Wadi Rum the delegation was introduced to water saving strategies.
The Forum strived to familiarize German enterprises that have relevant expertise in water management with the local circumstances in the Arab region. During the three days sustainable solutions for the current challenges in the water sector in light of the refugee crisis were discussed and German-Arab cooperation in the water sector was fostered.
Once again the German-Arab Water Forum has proven that despite existing challenges close international cooperation can contribute to sustainable solutions. Especially German knowledge and technology transfer can contribute to mitigating the situation and help transform an area of confrontation into one of economic cooperation.