Future diplomacy in the Middle East: the challenges of water, energy and climate

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Peace, Security & Defence
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Future diplomacy in the Middle East: the challenges of water, energy and climate

About

Despite hosting around 5% of the world’s population, the Middle East only has about 1.5% of the world’s renewable water resources. As the climate crisis aggravates, the Middle East and North Africa will increasingly be affected by the limited quantity and unpredictability of water supplies. Water resources are also interconnected with energy production. Every stage of energy and electricity generation involves the usage of water, and energy is required to gather, transport and distribute high-quality water for all kinds of human activities.

In Northeast Syria, the Euphrates River reached an all-time low in May 2021, impacting agriculture, domestic consumption, and electricity production. Libya is also one of the most water-stressed country in the world. Four aquifers—Kufra, Sirt, Morzuk and Hamada—provide the majority of Libya’s freshwater supplies; the last three of these are nearly exhausted. In Iraq, most of the population does not have constant access to electricity or even fuel – a seemingly absurd fact considering they are the world’s sixth largest oil producer.

One of the main contributors to climate change and global warming is the combustion of fossil fuels to produce electricity, supply running water and power vehicles. The Middle East will primarily be a victim of climate change and in fact has already suffered from desertification, water scarcity and harsh heatwaves in recent decades. Yet, it is also contributing to it: rapidly transitioning to other means of energy production is essential and possible, with countries such as Libya presenting strong potential for solar power. The Policy Insight debate will address the challenges outlined above from the vantage point of diplomacy and international relations. Will climate change, as a transboundary phenomenon, create an impetus for greater regional cooperation in the Middle East or will it aggravate political tensions in the region even more? What role will diplomacy play in all of this? What role is there for regional cooperation organisations such as the Gulf Cooperation Council or Arab League?

This event will take place on an online platform upon registration and will also be available to a wider audience via livestream. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook, and join the #FoEDebate discussion!


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Schedule

Schedule

Future Diplomacy in the Middle East: the challenges of water, energy and climate Expand Future Diplomacy in the Middle East: the challenges of water, energy and climate

Moderator

Mary Fitzgerald

Researcher and Analyst specialising in the Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Speakers

Yana Abu-Taleb

Jordanian Director of EcoPeace Middle East

Cinzia Bianco

Visiting Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)

Dr Martina Klimes

Advisor for Water and Peace/member of the Scientific Programme Committee of the World Water Week at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

Stephanie Williams

Former special advisor on Libya to the United Nations Secretary-General

Speakers

Speakers

Yana Abu-Taleb
Yana Abu-Taleb

Jordanian Director of EcoPeace Middle East

Show more information on Yana Abu-Taleb

Yana Abu-Taleb is the Jordanian Director of EcoPeace Middle East, a regional organisation that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists to promote sustainable development and advance peace efforts in the Middle East. Abu Taleb leads EcoPeace activities concerning the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, shared water resources, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. Her responsibilities include supervising international project development and management, as well as liaising with and lobbying governmental and private sector figures and organisations on major regional policy issues relevant to environmental protection and transboundary water. She is heavily involved in promoting and facilitating national and regional dialogue to advance policy processes needed for sustaining peace.

Cinzia Bianco
Cinzia Bianco

Visiting Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)

Show more information on Cinzia Bianco

Cinzia Bianco is a Visiting Fellow at ECFR, a Berlin-based think tank, where her areas of expertise include political, security and economic developments in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf region, as well as their relations with Europe. She is also a Senior Analyst at Gulf State Analytics, a geopolitical risk consulting firm that assesses risks and opportunities among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Previously, Bianco was a research fellow for the European Commission’s project on EU-GCC relations, ‘Sharaka’. She holds a PhD from the University of Exeter, where she researched threat perceptions in GCC countries after the 2011 Arab uprisings.

Mary Fitzgerald
Mary Fitzgerald

Researcher and Analyst specialising in the Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Show more information on Mary Fitzgerald

Mary Fitzgerald is a researcher and analyst specialising in the Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya. She has consulted for a number of international organisations including in the areas of peace building and civil society.

She has worked with the International Crisis Group (ICG), the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) among others. She is a Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, King’s College London, and an Associate Fellow at ISPI in Milan. Mary has also worked on wider initiatives with UNESCO, the Anna Lindh Foundation, the British Council and other cultural organisations. Her writing has appeared in publications including Foreign Policy, The New Yorker online, the Washington Post, Financial Times and the Guardian.

Dr Martina Klimes
Dr Martina Klimes

Advisor for Water and Peace/member of the Scientific Programme Committee of the World Water Week at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

Show more information on Dr Martina Klimes

Martina Klimes’s work centres around water diplomacy and water cooperation, climate and security, dialogue facilitation, incentives, and third-party involvement in negotiation processes.

Her book, Using Carrots to Bring Peace, Negotiation and Third Party Involvement (World Scientific, 2016), focuses primarily on the effectiveness of aid conditionality and other external tools that third parties – from states and regional organizations to NGOs – bring to the table in peace negotiations. Martina holds a PhD degree in International Relations and is an Associated Research Fellow at the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm.

Stephanie Williams
Stephanie Williams

Former special advisor on Libya to the United Nations Secretary-General

Show more information on Stephanie Williams

Stephanie Williams has extensive experience in mediation, diplomacy and security policy, having worked for the United Nations and the United States government throughout her career. She is the former special advisor on Libya to the UN Secretary-General. Williams has previously served as the acting special representative and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), as well as the deputy special representative of UNSMIL for political affairs. As a senior foreign service officer, Williams served as chargé d’affaires ad interim for the US embassy in Libya. She also served as deputy chief of mission at the US embassies in Iraq and Jordan, among other assignments.

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