Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | July 17, 2011

FoEME Inspires Environmental Cooperation in Countries in Conflict

The week of July 3rd, a representative of FoEME was invited to attend and present at the Young Global Leaders Initiative on India Pakistan Cooperation Conference held on July 8-9 in Lahore, Pakistan.  This year’s theme was Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction: Managing Risks, Creating Benefits.

The conference brought together leaders from Pakistan and India to address the management of shared natural resources and to learn from the success of other international bilateral initiatives.  The conference leaders asked FoEME to share experiences from the organization’s cross-border environmental peacemaking projects and apply these lessons to the Indus River Basin.

A representative from FoEME’s Amman office spoke about the good practices emerging from the Good Water Neighbors Project, which brings together Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian communities across borders to address their mutual dependence on shared water resources.

She introduced FoEME as an organization that stresses regional cooperation between its three offices and the importance of engaging local communities. Her presentation highlighted the need for communities’ to work together toward understanding and developing common solutions to shared water resource problems.

“There’s a demand for peace and a will to cooperate amongst the people of both India and Pakistan, and this is the first step toward real change,” she said.

She also discussed FoEME’s top-down and bottom-up approaches to managing environmental problems, describing the organization’s work at the community level as well as the involvement in lobbying and activities at the government level, like the Transboundary Advocacy of Parliamentarians (TAP) project.

The Indus River Basin, comprised of the Indus River and six major tributaries, reaches from the Tibetan Plateau to the Arabian Sea.  India accounts for approximately 70% of the source waters from a combination of rain and snowpack melt from the Himalayas.  The heavy rains during monsoon season cause considerable flooding in Pakistan, leading to the need for an integrated disaster and risk management plan between the two countries.

As part of the Indus Waters Treaty (1960) between India and Pakistan, a Permanent Indus Commission was established for joint management of the water resources.  However, for this initiative to be truly successful, communities from both Pakistan and India need to be involved.

Coming from the Middle East, the “mother of all conflict,” our FoEME representative is positive that a cross-border water resources project between India and Pakistan will be successful.

“If the Middle East can do it,” she enthused, “then so can India and Pakistan.”

Following the World Economic Forum’s regional summit in India in November 2011, a delegation of Indians and Pakistanis is expected to visit Jordan and tour FoEME’s transboundary project sites.

This blog was submitted by Shannon McGowan, an intern at FoEME’s Amman office.

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