You are here: Home Knowledge Base Environment Water Scarcity and Virtual Water Trade Proposals by John W. McDonald
Symposium 2011

Proposal - by John W. McDonald

The Challenge

Two fifths of the world’s population faces water shortages. During the coming decades, water scarcity is expected to rise as a result of a rapid increase in the demand for water due to population gr ...

Two fifths of the world’s population faces water shortages. During the coming decades, water scarcity is expected to rise as a result of a rapid increase in the demand for water due to population growth, urbanization and increasing consumption of water per capita. In addition, climate change is expected to influence the supply of water, modifying the regional distribution of freshwater resources.

I would like to propose the following two ideas to my panel on water issues:

1. To create an International Water Commission to develop and manage water usage agreements in order to prevent conflict with the waters of the Tigris, Euphrates, and Jordan rivers.

This proposal has never been presented before, but once completed will be a major step forward in reducing conflict and building peace in the Middle East.

I have been involved in drinking water and sanitation issues at the global and local levels since 1978, and have lived as a US diplomat in the region for eight years. In 2008 I facilitated an agreement between water experts from Israel and Palestine to create a water commission for those two entities. The commission would consist of three experts from each side, chaired by a chairman from a third country, and would meet regularly at the expert level (no politicians present) to solve daily problems that might arise. The ten page paper resulting from this work is now a part of the Geneva Accords, and has been presented to Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas for their possible use.

Based on this experience my Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, created in 1992 with offices in Arlington, VA USA, has designed a project proposal to bring two non-governmental water experts together in Amman Jordan, from Turkey, Iraq, Sryia, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine.

This group, together with US experts, would meet for a week in Amman, Jordan to design the terms of reference for this water commission. We estimate the cost for this project, which we call Phase 1, at $60,000. Phase 2 of the project, which would cost an additional $200,000, would be designed to push the seven governments to adopt the draft document as an international, binding treaty. The Secretariat would be located in Amman, Jordan.


2. To bring to millions of girls in developing countries - who drop out of school at the first signs of puberty - safe water and sanitation facilities within schools so that their safety, privacy, and dignity is guaranteed, and they can continue their education.

The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, founded in 1992, and Global Water, founded in 1982, of which I am Chairman and CEO, has been involved in conflict resolution and water and sanitation issues in many developing countries over many years.

We have learned in recent years, much to our surprise, that 4th, 5th, and 6th grade girls, as they are entering puberty, drop out of school when their schools do not have sanitary facilities because they need to safely keep themselves clean through their menstrual cycles. This information is shocking news to most people in the west. Since education is the heart of economic development we believe this situation must be addressed and resolved.

Over the last several years Global Water (globalwater.org) has brought drinking water and sanitation facilities to over 20 schools in Guatemala. We have been impressed and delighted to see that when word goes out into the community about this addition to the local school, the girls come back to school and continue their education.

We have recently succeeded in having the Millennium Water Alliance in the United States, an NGO consisting of major NGOs from the United States, like CARE, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, etc., take on this task as a first priority if funding is available. We and others have encouraged the Gates Foundation in Seattle, WA to focus on this issue.

We hope, through this conference, to attract broad attention to this issue on the part of the international community and national governments, that they need to fund these efforts, and change the way the world thinks about the need for sanitation in schools across the world.

    Related Proposals

    Proposal
    Symposium 2011

    Water Scarcity and Virtual Water Trade

    1) Analyzing the source of the problem Compared to industry and residential water use the agricultural sector is the largest consumer of water. Today, many water-short regions and countries still use ...

    1) Analyzing the source of the problem Compared to industry and residential water use the agricultural sector is the largest consumer of water. Today, many water-short regions and countries still use the little water they have for growing crops. However, before water-scarce countries implement policy measures dealing with the problem, they should carefully analyze the causes of water scarcity. Measures will need to differ between countries characterized by absolute water scarcity and those where institutional inadequacies are the main causes. 2)   Institutional failures Water shortage is often caused by inadequate management of water resources. Production decisions in agriculture are so

    Polity, Business
    Proposal
    Symposium 2011

    Four key messages

    Take away messages and solutions In conditions where 90% of the water in the economy is managed by farmers at the beginning of the food supply value chain. They manage all the green water used from th ...

    Take away messages and solutions In conditions where 90% of the water in the economy is managed by farmers at the beginning of the food supply value chain. They manage all the green water used from the root zone and 70% of all blue water. That is 90% of society’s total use. They have increased water productivity four times in the past half century. We need to help them further intensify BUT the intensification must be sustainable.   1. We must enable farmers to intensify their productivity sustainably Increased returns to water and water resource stewardship   2.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2011

    by Yacov Tsur

    Water reuse Rapid technological development has increased the efficiency and reduced the cost of recycled water. We now know that about 60 percent of residential water consumption can be treated (to s ...

    Water reuse Rapid technological development has increased the efficiency and reduced the cost of recycled water. We now know that about 60 percent of residential water consumption can be treated (to secondary or tertiary level) and reused in crop production and environmental (stream flows, ecosystems) restoration. Moreover, in more and more countries, environmental standards require treatment of sewage water. As a result, the residential sector, which has been competing fiercely with Agriculture for the limited amount of renewable fresh water, becomes an important source of irrigation water supply. And the potential of this source will continue to increase in the

    Polity, Business
    Proposal
    Symposium 2011

    by Richard Evans

    In many societies water is considered a right rather than a commodity with economic value. This is not surprising when water is abundant and demand is low relative to supply. That condition no longer ...

    In many societies water is considered a right rather than a commodity with economic value. This is not surprising when water is abundant and demand is low relative to supply. That condition no longer exists in many – and perhaps most – societies. In some cases water is being seen as either a commodity or a right depending upon its use – i.e. a commodity in industrial use but a right in personal use. The single largest use of water, however, is for agriculture which arguably encompasses both personal use (subsistence farming) and industrial use (large scale corporate farms) –

    Polity, Business