Stemming from a series of discussions regarding the future of development and cooperation in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), King’s College London recently hosted a Water Security Workshop in partnership with the University of Oxford, the University of East Anglia and The Third Line development think tank. This workshop was organised by students for students wanting to build networks and to develop a forum for water security discussions.
Kieran Lutton, a MSc Water: Science & Governance student and a member of the organising committee, reports on the event:
Our host at King’s was King’s Water, a wide scoped interdisciplinary group concerned with researching water, environment and development spanning social and physical sciences. I sat on the Workshop Organisational Committee as a King’s Water graduate student. Following an undergraduate degree in BSc Geography, I have been completing my MSc in Water: Science and Governance this past year, and developed a keen interest in water related issues regarding both their cause and management. In particular, my course has delved into the WANA region among other arid areas in detail, and opened my eyes to the important dynamics of cooperation and conflict in these locations.
The workshop focussed on the potential for connectivity models through life elements such as food, water and energy. Not only did the workshop draw upon talks by academics with years of experience in the transboundary water resources field (Dr Mark Zeitoun and Dr Tony Allan from UEA and King’s respectively), but also early career academics with a range of interests and opinions regarding water the WANA region. It was these talks that later facilitated wide ranging and valuable discussions contemplating the common challenges between agriculture and water security, before identifying gaps and opportunities for future water-energy-food cooperation.
From my own perspective, the workshop provided an interesting way to solidify what I have learnt this year at King’s. Particularly in the working group discussions I was able to contribute to the task, discussing the importance of greater discourse and transparency between stakeholders, a regional strategy, and the ways in which both could be supported in the future. On the other hand, the varied talks – ranging from the use of water as a weapon in Syria to the potential of solar power as an alternative energy source to benefit irrigation – built upon my own knowledge in a way that also highlighted both the scale and complexity of the task at hand.
The demand for the establishment of an international platform supported by academics in the WANA region is evident; an international platform that raises awareness and technical capacity of the region while overcoming the food security and irrigation paradox that currently exists. With this in mind, we are interested in continuing the work that has been made to date, but in the meantime a full report on our opening workshop can be found below.