Water Security in the Middle East

Bern, Press release, 17.02.2010

An international workshop on Water Security in the Middle East was held at Montreux on February 15-16., attracting participation of 60 leading policymakers, including members of Parliament, former Cabinet Ministers, research senior leaders of Water Commissions and heads of research institutions from across the Middle East.

The workshop was organized by the Strategic Foresight Group, an India-based think-tank, in cooperation with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Agency. The workshop is a first step in a process followed by more consultations and encounters to find collaborative solutions to the burning water problems of the region. 

Switzerland and Sweden have similar visions regarding peace, human rights, economic growth and environment for Middle East. Both countries support the efforts for the improvement of water security of this region. 

HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan called for the establishment of a regional water and energy community. While expressing concern about growing water scarcity across Asia and Africa, he emphasized the urgency of trans-boundary cooperation. He suggested that water and environment should be seen as “regional commons”. Prince Hassan said “We need to develop a regional master plan for water security based on innovative concepts. Such a plan should particularly address the needs of millions of people who forms silent majority.” 

Switzerland also urged the need for an integrated regional plan for water security. Citing the examples of Rhine River basin and Switzerland’s role in addressing problems arising out of water imbalances in Central Asia, he advocated a cooperative approach to manage trans-boundary water resources. He also underlined the importance of technical management of the water sector. 

The participants presented long-term scenarios for the next 20 years. On population and economic growth, climate change and domestic imbalances, almost all countries in the region will experience substantial decline in per capita water availability by 2030. Several sources of fresh water, including rivers, lakes and groundwater aquifers are already shrinking and suffering from pollution and contamination. In view of magnitude of crisis, the participants agreed that there was no option but to improve demand management and explore cooperation. 

The Strategic Foresight Group will continue the Montreux process with more workshops, collaborative research and consultations to find sustainable and collaborative solutions.

Further information:

Switzerland's engagement in the field of water security
Switzerland's engagement in Middle East

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47
E-Mail: info@eda.admin.ch


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs