Can Israel and Palestinians Resolve Water Politics in California?


California Israel water crisis Middle East
Can environmental professionals from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority help solve the epic water battles in California? How similar are the issues of water scarcity and political conflict in the Middle East to those in the Western United States? Can recent examples of successful conflict resolution and cooperation for environmental gains in the Middle East provide valuable lessons for application to California, Utah and Colorado?

A symposium coming to Los Angeles Sept. 9 will explore these critically important questions and showcase ground-breaking efforts for trans-boundary environmental cooperation in the Middle East. The seminar is presented by the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and features a keynote address from Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security.

Securing trans-boundary cooperation is critical as Israel and many areas of the Middle East are in the midst of historic water shortages. Similarly, a drought has been declared in California, adding to recent complications from court-ordered reductions in water deliveries to Southern California to protect endangered species. In addition, the Colorado River Basin is experiencing historic drought conditions.

Research director of the Arava Institute Clive Lipchin comments, 

California’s history can and has been written as successive battles over water waged both within the state and with surrounding states and Mexico. Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority are waging similar battles, attempting to resolve their problems of scarcity, drought and allocation in the middle of a politically tense region.
In many ways, these two regions that are on opposite ends of the planet have very similar problems. Yet, it seems, there are distinct differences in how California and the Middle East attempt to find solutions. Our hope is that our experiences from the Middle East may have relevance to similar issues in the Western United States.
California Israel water Middle East Arava Institute
Each seminar will feature Middle East environmental professionals who have worked together through the Arava Institute to cooperatively solve the region’s environmental challenges, in addition to a resource expert from the city where the seminar is held. 
The panelists will present their research, which covers a range of environmental topics from exposure to airborne particulate matter to watershed protection to the introduction of gray water and saline water as new resources for sustainable farming and crop production.
Interestingly, Lipchin believes that cooperating on environmental issues could be a road to Middle East peace, saying, 
We are finding that time and time again, the cooperation that emerges during our studies is a much more effective means to reduce tensions and secure meaningful environmental gains than are more formal approaches.
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