By Hana Namrouqa – May 03,2017

AMMAN — The Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace on Wednesday held its final meeting before submitting its report recommending a new framework to create positive linkages between water, peace and security.

The panel’s fourth and final meeting before the report’s submission to the UN in September was hosted by HRH Prince Hassan, who is a member of the panel.

Members of the high level panel agreed on several recommendations to foster a positive linkage between water and peace, including a UN Security Council resolution that recognises water as a strategic resource for humanity and aims to protect water and water installations in war-torn areas from becoming targets or used as weapons against civilian populations.

The panel also suggested the provision of concessional funding for countries willing to cooperate on water-related issues — under the proposed Blue Fund — as well as the creation of a global hydro-diplomacy facility to create possibilities for resolving global water conflicts.

At the opening ceremony, HRH Prince Hassan stated that human dignity and citizens’ empowerment was the basis for an ethical concept of water usage.

He proposed water, energy and human environment as commons, as well as environment, education and health. He suggested encouraging the importance of building regional councils, with the participation of youth, through education and constitutional emphasis efforts.

The Prince called for a shared vision for a regional carrying capacity that would include public utilities, electricity generation manufacturing, oil and gas, as well as mining.

He also called for water cooperation between countries to be focused on policy rather than politics, highlighting that a continuum of policy has to be invested in to achieve equity.

“Without equity, you cannot have peace,” Prince Hassan stressed.

The Global High Level Panel, co-convened by 15 countries, was launched in November 2015 in Geneva, and has since held meetings in Geneva in Switzerland, Dakar in Senegal and San Jose in Costa Rica, as well as consultations at the UN in New York, according to organisers.

Its chairman, Danilo Türk, said at the meeting’s inauguration that the global availability of quantity and quality of freshwater is rapidly decreasing, calling for a more central integration of water issues into the fabric of international cooperation, conflict prevention and peace building as a security imperative.

“Obviously, water is and has always been of vital importance for development. However, water is increasingly important for the maintenance of peace and security,” indicated Türk, who is a former president of Slovenia.

He underlined that the panel has been working on a set of proposals aimed at strengthening the global frameworks to prevent and resolve water-related conflicts, to facilitate the role of water as an important factor for building peace and enhancing the relevance of water issues in national and global policy making.

Meanwhile, Sundeep Waslekar, president of the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG), an India-based think tank that advises governments and institutions around the world on future challenges’ management, indicated that concrete steps are needed to save assets and prevent militaries from attacking water sources and water installations.

Waslekar, whose institute is the main knowledge support partner to the Global High Level Panel, highlighted that water must be prevented from being used as a weapon in warfare, indicating that water has never been the cause of war, but is now being used as a tool of war.

“The only force that is stronger than military force in the world is the force of morality,” he indicated, highlighting that while cooperation between countries is mutually beneficial, it is not an easy task.

‘The Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water’ report, launched by SFG in 2011, redefines water in the Middle East as an instrument for cooperation and suggests 10 recommendations to achieve water security and regional peace.

The report suggested that water can be used in the region as an opportunity to achieve peace and development, rather than treated as a problem and a source of conflict.

Meanwhile, SFG’s 2013 report “Water Cooperation for a Secure World — Focus on the Middle East” suggested that any two countries engaged in active water cooperation do not go to war, indicating that there is a strong correlation between the degree of cooperation in water and the general atmosphere of peace and friendship between any two countries or more.

The report highlighted that out of the 148 countries sharing water resources, 37 nations do not engage in cooperation for the management of water resources.