Multilateral Working Groups
on Water Resources and the Environment
(June 22, 1995)
Press Statement of the Gavelholder
The first clustered meetings of the Water Resources and Environment
Multilateral Working Groups produced strong momentum for continued
progress on important peace process projects. Both working groups
were urged toward greater actions by the opening comments of His
Royal Highness Crown Prince Hassan Bin Talal.
In the Water Working Group, many delegations came forward with
financial support for the group's important projects, and several
delegations offered new initiatives.
-- The United States and the European Union committed funds to
launch implementation of the regional data bank project among
the Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians. Several other countries
announced their interest in supporting the project. The data
banks will provide each party with water data that can be used
to support regional water management.
-- The United States and Oman announced that each would commit
3 million dollars to establish the Middle East Desalination Research
Center in Muscat, Oman. The center is a concrete manifestation
of regional cooperation created through the multilateral peace
process. A design group will convene as soon as possible to complete
a detailed plan for launching the center.
-- Plans are being finalized between Germany and Jordanian, Israeli,
and Palestinian organizations to analyze the medium and long-term
water demand and supply needs of the region. This critical study
will identify and evaluate the options available to increase the
water supplies in the region.
-- Ten delegations are conducting twenty regional training courses
for water experts and technicians from the Middle East. The courses
will contribute to building the technical capabilities and infrastructure
needed to improve management of their water resources.
-- Luxembourg, Sweden, and The Netherlands announced new projects
designed to help regional parties - especially the Palestinians
- better manage their water resources. Luxembourg will focus
on the use of marginal water in agriculture; Sweden will focus
on domestic water consumption and public awareness; and the Netherlands
will work on ground water recharge.
-- Jordan presented a proposal for a regional research and training
center focusing on ground water. Jordan will consult further
with the interested parties on how to proceed on this proposal.
-- Representatives from the Palestinian Water Authority joined
the work of the group, and several delegations offered material
support to the authority.
In the Environment Working Group, we witnessed the successful
launching of new projects and expanding financial support of existing
-- The Jordanian delegation proposed establishment of a regional
environmental education and public awareness center in Jordan.
This idea was heartily endorsed by the working group. Jordan
will develop plans for the center and coordinate with interested
-- Japan provided the working group with a pamphlet containing
the Bahrain Environmental Code of Conduct for the Middle East.
The code, which identifies principles and guidelines for environmental
management, will be widely distributed to promote further public
awareness of the need for environmental protection.
-- Japan, the European Union, and Switzerland agreed to contribute
funds toward a World Bank initiative to combat desertification
in the region. Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian, and
Tunisian experts will carry out the work. The project will focus
on the use of marginal water and saline soils, arid lands agriculture,
and rangeland and livestock management, economic forestry and
-- Jordan, Israel, and Egypt are continuing their efforts for
a regional approach to establish centers that will combat oil
spills. The parties are working to ensure that in the event of
an oil spill in the Gulf of Aqaba, all the parties will be prepared
to work together to combat the spill and protect the fragile coral
-- The United States announced its continued support for an initiative
to safeguard people from the negative environmental health effects
of pesticides. Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Egyptian
experts are developing on-farm demonstration sites for reducing
the use of pesticides. The United States also is providing the
parties with computer and communications equipment to enhance
their coordination on health effects related to pesticides.
Taken together, these projects demonstrate the substantial progress
made by both the Water and Environment Working Groups toward the
goal of helping to ensure that adequate water supplies are available
in the region at an affordable cost and that the environment in
the Middle East is well protected.
Source: U.S. State Department