Water is an issue of mutual interest in the Middle East and its sharing is important for development and stability. However, joint efforts for dealing with water are hampered by the lack of regional peace and stability. Additionally, the absence of a dialogue between regional states and civil society organizations leads to a lack of shared knowledge on water.

The Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Geneva Initiative jointly organized two seminars in The Hague on 1-2 May 2014 and 28-29 August 2014. These seminars were part of a series of meetings taking place in Israel, Palestine, and the Netherlands aimed at furthering a review of the existing Geneva Initiative Water Annex from 2009. The seminars also sought to develop a supplementary paper to address outstanding issues not included in the Annex.

The seminar, held under the Chatham House Rule and facilitated by The Hague Institute staff, enabled an open and frank exchange of ideas between participants from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and the Netherlands. The key purpose of the seminar was to provide an opportunity for the Geneva Initiative to meet Dutch experts in closed informal setting and to learn about other approaches to transboundary water management.

The project, jointly undertaken by The Hague Institute and the Geneva Initiative, believes in creating a joint vision on common water issues to advance the peace process within the parameters of the Geneva Initiative, namely the two-state solution, agreed borders, as well as water and the environment.

Issues discussed included:

  • Lessons learned from previous water agreements, the Oslo Accords and the Geneva Accord;
  • Existing transboundary cooperation and possible future cooperation in this field;
  • The water problem within the local, regional, and international context;
  • The impact of “mega projects”, mainly desalination projects;
  • Cooperation in transboundary wastewater and potential non-conventional water resources;
  • Future uncertainties such as the impact of climate change on water resources.

The seminars were part of a civil society initiative and were not related to any formal negotiation within the context of the Middle East Peace Process. These efforts were financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Representative Office in Palestinian Territories and The Hague Institute for Global Justice.