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Saturday, 21 May 2011 08:45
“We made from water all living thing”
The Holy Quran, Al-Anbiya [The Prophets] verse 30

“وجعلنا من الماء كل شيء حي”
 القرآن الكريم، سورة الأنبياء، الآية 30

 

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

W. H. Auden (1907–1973),
American Poet

Back in 1992 the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) recommended that international community celebrates a Water Day on a certain date to highlight a specific aspect of freshwater. The UN General Assembly responded by designating 22nd March 1993 as the first annual water day. Since then, international community has chosen a theme for the celebration that reflects how important water to life and how communities must work together for securing such vital source for the future and for assuring its quality. The theme of the 2009 Water Day is: "Shared Water - Shared Opportunities", which is emphasizing on trans-boundary water as a source for justly shared management not a conflict triggering issue. The message given by the 2009 World Day is clear as the ceremony was lead by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the support of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and it shows the importance of fresh water for all aspects of life and the role of science and culture in its sustainability.

Conflicts over trans-boundary water could trigger wars, where suffering of people intensifies. It is therefore, the international community’s responsibility to justly safeguard access to such vital resources by assuring proper strategies that address users’ needs and mediate to ensure proper and just shares. With this regard, the international community should treat all countries on equal footing and should not allow some countries to act as if they are above the international law, otherwise it will “facilitate” the creation of pre-requisite conditions for wars. As fresh water is essential as much as oxygen is for life, which everyone has the right to, any monopoly of water that may constitute the suffering of people must be considered a crime against human beings and must not be allowed.

While trans-boundary water may create conflict over regional and international dimensions, it may also create an epidemic national problem if not managed properly. In that sense scientists, engineers, researchers, economist, etc. should be given the chance to work on effective water management and to increase the utilization efficiency of fresh water. The public should be involved in the process and civil society organizations must give more attention to public education and awareness programs.

As the UNESCO lead the celebration of the 2009 Water Day on the international level, it is the Palestine Academy for Science and Technology in direct cooperation with the Palestinian Water Authority who is leading the international conference on Water: Values and Rights. The role of the Academy, as a national umbrella for Science, Technology and Innovation, is to work together with national institutions in creating the platform for national and international scientists and experts to meet and present the latest scientific and technological achievements on specific fields. As the first international conference on water values and rights back in 2005 was a success, this year’s conference is going to be a success and will trigger several initiatives of benefit to all participating scientists and institutions. The direct involvement and sponsoring of the United Nations Development Program in the first and the second events emphasizes the importance of the conference. This should be strengthened through future cooperation on scientific aspects of national and international priorities.

The aim of the 2nd International Conference on “Water: Values and Rights” was to provide the scientists and water experts with a platform to share their expertise in the diverse water related fields. Peer reviewed papers presented essentially addressed the following themes: water resources management, wastewater management, water rights and international water law, and lastly, special themes in  water development, strategic planning, regional cooperation, impact of climate change, Palestinian Israeli water dispute, water ethics, red sea- dead sea project

The Proceedings contains all full reviewed papers submitted to the Conference, and constitute, therefore, an invaluable source of information and reference for all those who are involved in water issues within the context of the four themes mentioned above.

 

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