From 2-4 May 2005, the International and Scientific Conference on “Water: Values and Rights” took place at the Best Eastern Hotel in Ramallah. This Conference was organized by Palestine Academy for Science and Technology and the Palestinian Water Authority and co-sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
In his speech, on the 22nd March 2005 addressing World Water Day, which marked the beginning of the UN Water Decade, the United Nations Secretary General described Water as “a source for life” confirming that the world needs to respond much better in making water not a resource of conflict but instead forging it as a catalyst for cooperation. This speech comes while people in many countries around the world are facing serious problems ranging from shortage of the potable water to the inadequate distribution and monopoly of water resources that certainly have adverse consequences on all aspects of life, including in Palestine. It was stressed during the conference that despite all efforts and investments during the last ten years, the per capita consumption of the Palestinian consumer community has not increased in some areas and has actually dropped.
What we need in our region is to develop a new water mentality by which water use is prioritized as vested human rights and is managed in an economical and ecological sustainable manner instead of being handled as solely a political issue and commercial commodity.
Decision makers should therefore facilitate and support the role of science, technology and innovation not only within each country but also among countries by strengthening scientific cooperation, especially for issues of cross-border effects.
Key international and local speakers were invited to participate in the conference and lead different sessions throughout the three day conference along with local key speakers from different institutions specialized in the water sector.
This event was the first initiative in the framework of the United Nations Water Decade 2005-2015: Water for Life in Palestine and aimed to provide scientists, researchers, experts, decision-makers and those interested from the private and public sectors with a platform to introduce the latest in the state of the art in the diverse fields of water resource management and rights.
It was the first international and scientific conference in its kind to take place in Palestine and turned out to be a great success. Over two hundred local and international participants, scientists, researchers, water and legal experts and decision makers attended the Conference and more than 50 papers were presented focusing on water resources management, wastewater management, water rights and international law, strategic planning and regional cooperation. The Conference was praised for the relevance and quality of the presentations, the expertise of both speakers and participants, and its excellent organization.
The Proceedings of the conference was published on behalf the publication unit in Palestine Academy for science and technology. The proceeding is 949 pages targeting the themes that were discussed during the conference. The conference themes were: Water Resources Management, Wastewater management, Water: Development, Strategic Planning and Regional Cooperation, Water Rights and International Water Law and other special themes.
For the recommendations that resulted from the Conference, please see the Joint Statement