Professor of International Relations
Climate change and resource scarcity threaten the well-being of millions of people around the world. In regions where vital natural resources - such as rivers - span political borders, these threats can be exacerbated by political disputes and lack of trust.
For example, environmental stress, climate change and the mismanagement of natural resources are claimed to have worsened the humanitarian crisis in Syria, contributing to regional destabilisation and protracted conflict.
The prevailing approach to meeting water and energy needs focuses on sector-based supply-side solutions, which combine with politically-charged narratives of national self-sufficiency.
This approach ignores both the cross-border nature of many natural resources and their strong interdependence: energy is critical for water supply, water is needed in power generation, and both resources are essential for food production.
This programme will promote practical cross-border co-operation on natural resources in the eastern Nile Basin and the Jordan River Basin. We will analyse the interconnections between water, energy and climate in these regions and produce scenarios of future needs, trajectories for resource governance and infrastructure development.
We will also approach the issue practically by working to support a multi-track and iterative process of exploring potential solutions across each region. This will engage a wide range of stakeholders, including local interest groups, academic institutions, government researchers, and private citizens to discuss and collaborate on regional water and energy policies. This multi-track process will seek to build trust and an understanding of the priorities and concerns of each group sharing the natural resources in question, leading towards a set of politically acceptable regional approaches that address critical resource challenges. Approaches co-created with a wide array of stakeholders will provide potential solutions that governments can consider in formal negotiation processes.
We aim to contribute to resolving transboundary resource conflict in the Middle East and North Africa through practical and inclusive means. If successful, this would provide a new basis to resolve seemingly intractable challenges that threaten the achievement of the SDGs in the region.