• To address regional challenges, facilitating exchange of information and ideas, harmonizing available approaches and solutions for water chemists.
• To review of available scientific information on transboundary water quality and the threat by major anthropogenic and emerging pollutants, preventing depletion and deterioration of transboundary surface and groundwater aquifers.
• To take stock of on-going water research, evaluating water chemistry and biological issues, including selected case studies and potential mitigation strategies to motivate appropriate multinational actions.
• To recommend feasible strategies for transboundary water resources management, developing and strengthening water security for all, including treatment and reuse of wastewater and desalination, as drought-proof water supply, for both brackish groundwater and seawater.
• To expose young researchers and professionals to internal-external policies, tackling some of the common challenges e.g. conflict prevention and management, food and energy security, environment and climate change.
• To learn from current scientific collaboration in the ongoing research on climate change carried out by German, Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian scientists (https://www.iwrm-smart2.org), and the ongoing tri-party Red Sea-Dead Sea Project (RSDSC) sponsored by the World Bank aiming to save the depleting riparian Dead Sea.
The Middle East is in various ways and for a number of reasons, in turmoil, especially by the long-standing crisis and conflicts affecting the people of the region. Widespread conflict and human rights violations, spurred by unsustainable water and energy supplies, rapidly expanding populations and a deteriorating environment coupled with climate change and mass destructive weapons proliferation threaten civilization in the region, as well a very strong displacement of population and environmental migration. Current political, religious and cultural differences cripple any efforts to create successful collaboration aiming to address some of the most critical water problems.
Water scarcity is reflected not only in quantity but also by poor biological and chemical quality, infecting available water to become unfit to drink. Poor conservation of the environment and inadequate treatment of point and non-point sources of pollutants, including minutes and hardly detectable emerging (pharmaceutical and endocrine) pollutants, have caused a rapid degradation of chronically depleted water resources. Trans-boundary movement of pollutants from one entity to another endanger the water resources and the drinking water quality and are a significant component of the ongoing political conflicts in the region.
The role of water in improving human lives has never been more important, as stated by the recently adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which recognizes water’s importance in achieving other global goals. Sustainable management of water resources and quality in rivers, lakes, aquifers and other water bodies is recognized as the main avenue to reduce, renew, and replenish water supplies, playing a key role in meeting the challenge of climate change and in achieving food and public health safety.
Due to the continuous and severe drought over the last years, water scarcity issues and water quality degradation in the region are worsening and the possibility to deal with these issues, involving experts from the region and beyond, divorced from the strong political conflict would be of importance to the professional community.
Science collaboration involving scientists from the neighboring nations and the international community is acknowledged as a path to overcome geopolitical borders and to address regional issues (Tolba and Saab, 2008, Schoenfeld, 2011, and Tal and Abed Rabbo, 2010). Effective scientific collaboration is currently demonstrated in an ongoing research on climate change involving Israeli, German, Jordanian, and Palestinian scientists (https://www.iwrm-smart2.org/ ), and in the World Bank supported tri-party Red Sea-Dead Sea Project (RSDSC) aiming to save the depleting riparian Dead Sea.
Against this backdrop and considering that science can help build bridges across borders and cultures, where other mechanisms are less effective, the main tasks of the workshop are:
• To review available scientific information on critical transboundary water resources and water quality in order to develop concrete actions for science as an instrument for reinforcing co-ownership and shared understanding with and within the neighbors.
• To provide a stock-taking and critical review of on-going research in the region, evaluating critical water resources and water chemistry issues of relevance to the region, as whole.
• To evaluate water quality control strategies, regarding domestic water supplies, conservation of water resources and ecosystems, as well as reuse of wastewater and desalination, treating specific critical issues and relevant case studies.
• To expose young water research and professionals to identified supplementary research as required to cover the internal-external policies nexus and the role of science in tackling some of the most urgent common challenges e.g. conflict prevention and management, food and energy security, environment and climate change.
• To disseminate findings to relevant stakeholders, including policy-makers, social partners and civil society organizations.
• To draw lessons combining general observations and policies with regional and country-specific scenarios.
Sep 2017 update – The workshop will be held as part of the bi-annual MCF – MALTA VIII, titled “Frontiers of Chemistry: Research and Education in the Middle East – a Bridge to Peace”, which will be held in December 2017 on the island of Malta. The Malta Conferences Foundation (MCF) is an independent nonprofit organization, promoting science cooperation as a bridge to peace in the Middle East. MCF hold a series of bi-annual conferences, bringing scientists from 16 Middle East countries including Israel, Turkey, Iran, and Arab countries, to interact with Nobel Laureates on Chemistry, to inspire the participants, especially young researchers and early career professionals, by the Nobel peers, to reflect on the regional issues. The MCF represents an enormous impact multiplier, creating an effective platform to enhance chemistry research and education and collaborative efforts that benefit the environment and the people in the region. In recognition of MCF achievements, MCF received the CRDF Global’s George Brown Award for International Scientific Cooperation, the AAAS Science Diplomacy Award, and the UN NOVUS Summit Award for Peace and Justice, among others.
May 2018 update – A report titled ‘Middle east regional cooperation and sustainable water management of transboundary water’ is published in Chem Int Apr 2018, pp. 35-38 <https://doi.org/10.1515/ci-2018-0215>
Recent relevant publication: Y. Shevah (2019), Impact of Persistent Droughts on the Quality of the Middle East Water Resources, Chapter 3, pp 51-84 in “Evaluating Water Quality to Prevent Future Disasters”, edited by Satinder Ahuja, special volume of Separation Science and Technology, Volume 11; https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-815730-5.00003-X
Page last updated 3 June 2019