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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Policy Paper 42: Environmental Diplomacy in the Jordan Basin


This paper reviews the achievements of Middle East environmental diplomacy under the multilateral track and lays out a feasible program to build on these achievements. It argues that negotiations should be informed by three lessons from the history of international water diplomacy. These are:

1) unequal partners may unequally share the costs and benefits of cooperation;

2) third-party mediation is most successful if accompanied by “carrot and stick” policies; and

3) cooperation should proceed as a series of modest steps, rather than as a grand regional plan.

The paper analyzes three issues in urgent need of multicountry cooperation. These are:

1) food for water trades to enhance food and water security in the region;

2) a transition to integrated pest management to halt the pollution of groundwater from agricultural runoff; and

3) the treatment and reuse of urban wastewater for health and water conservation.

In addition, the countries of the region should, jointly and individually, invest in environmental training and outreach. The conclusion contains an itemized list of short-to-intermediate term recommendations for environmental diplomacy.

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