Rethinking The Hydrological Cycle: assessing the feasibility of hydropeacebuilding in the Jordan River Basin


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Presentation on postdoc research for the Lund University project on hydropolitics in the Jordan River Basin

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Rethinking The Hydrological Cycle: assessing the feasibility of hydropeacebuilding in the Jordan River Basin

  1. 1. Rethinking the Hydrological Cycle Assessing the feasibility of hydropeacebuilding in the jordan river basin Dr. Joshka Wessels
  2. 2. Save the Planet ! • Do we own the planet or does the planet own us ? • Does water unite (peace) or divide (war) ? • How can we work together peacefully to save ourselves without relying heavily on engineering ?
  3. 3. The Jordan River Basin
  4. 4. Main Challenges in the JRB • Global climatic changes • Regional depletion of groundwater • No permanent agreements btwn riparians • Contradicting agreements • Dysfunctional water committees • No relevance of the UNSC resolutions • Negative impacts on watersheds, ecosystems and individual livelihoods
  5. 5. The Conventional Hydrological Cycle
  6. 6. Anthropogenic disturbances “Many human activities (e.g., aquifer depletion, wetland drainage) serve to divert water to the ocean that would otherwise have been stored on the continents. Dam building, on the other hand, impound continental runoff that would otherwise have been transported to and stored in the ocean. The balance between these positive and negative alterations can be used as a measure of net anthropogenic disturbance to the global hydrologic cycle”. Vörösmarty & Sahagian
  7. 7. TWM conflict resolution • Various quantitative and qualitative methods for conflict resolution in water resources management • Focus on managerialism and a neoliberal game theoretical approach • Ignores the importance of cognitive dimensions of water cooperation
  8. 8. TWM conflict resolution • Identity, trust, empathy and perception of “the other” play an essential role in the analysis of violence and conflict resolution • Recognizing each others grief and trauma • Negative mental pictures • Violent and assymetrical communication • Prejudice
  9. 9. Neoliberalism • Two paralell discourses critical towards neoliberalism and rational choice: – Peace & Conflict studies (Chandler, Rittberger, Aggestam, Richmond) – Water Management (Abraham, Adhikari, Boelens, Mollinga, Selby)
  10. 10. Cognitive Theory vs. Rational Choice • Ostrom’s (1990) emphasis on economic benefit of cooperation and resource management • Focus on technical and financial profit • Dimensions of the challenges of “working together” – humans as political beings • Flaws and paradoxes
  11. 11. Cognitive Theory vs. Rational Choice Eric Stern (1999, 2003) characteristics of decisionmaking in environmental crisis: •Threat to basic values •Urgency •Uncertainty
  12. 12. Cognitive Theory vs. Rational Choice • Increased relevance of empathy • Perception of “the other” • Altruism vs. Selfishness • Power and politics • Context
  13. 13. Environmental Peacebuilding “Environmental cooperation can be an effective catalyst for reducing tensions, broadening cooperation, fostering demilitarization and promoting peace” (Dajani, 2011; Conca & Dabelko, 2002).
  14. 14. The Human Ecosystem
  15. 15. Perpetuation of Conflict • Competition for resources (selfishness) • Status quo perpetuated through competition to maintain a hydro-hegemonic position • Liberal peace building takes the politics out of water, into the technocratic domain • No chance for reconciliation or processing of past traumas before restoring trust • Consisting negative mental pictures and mistrust
  16. 16. Central question What is the importance and role of identity, worldview and perception-of-the-other in water cooperation and management in the Jordan River Basin ?
  17. 17. The Jordan River Basin Game Exercise (JRBBE) A metaphor that distils main dimensions of ecological and human processes in a conceptual model (Lankford, 2007) “This game is real. It is so close to what we all experience here in the Basin” Player from Jordan
  18. 18. The Jordan River Basin Game Exercise (JRBBE) 1) Setting design goals and values goals. 2) Develop rules, constraints, which support values 3) Design many play styles and subversion 4) Develop playable prototype 5) Playtests with diverse audiences 6) Verify values, revise goals 7) Repeat to 1.
  19. 19. The Jordan River Basin Game Exercise (JRBBE) • Optimal allocation: Palestine: 14 Lebanon: 11 Syria: 32 Jordan: 22 Israel: 21. To gain true water security and satisfy their demands, the co-riparians should collaborate in water resources (Mimi, & Sawalhi, 2003; Phillips et al. 2005). • Total of 61 participants for average of 2,5 hours • Class room environment, WWF Marseille 2012 and onsite in the JRB
  20. 20. The Jordan River Basin Game Exercise (JRBBE) JRBBE played by a group of visitors from World Water Forum 6, Marseille, France. This is a try-out of a prototype of the boardgame. eo/1275/events/jordan-river-basin-game
  21. 21. The Jordan River Basin Game Exercise (JRBBE) – A: Sweden (SVET) – B: Golan Heights (Syrians) – C: Sweden (CMES) – D: Bir Zeit University (Palestinians) – E: Tel Aviv (Israelis) – F: Ramallah (Negotiations Affairs Dept., PLO) – G: Amman (Jordanians)
  22. 22. Endresults of JRRBE experiments
  23. 23. Map of religious, ethnic and national core identities
  24. 24. Revised Hydrological Cycle
  25. 25. Conclusions • Serious gaming as a methodology gives insight in cognitive processes of human behaviour with regard to TWM. • On-going dilemma of playing to win individually (national interests, selfishness, unilateralism) or to win together (transboundary water management, altruism, joint or collective action ). • Cognitive dimensions such as worldview, perception-of-theother and identity play a decisive role in water cooperation decisionmaking and transboundary water management. • An equitable hydropeace within the neoliberal paradigm is highly unlikely. Peace cannot emerge in a solely technocratic domain with a managerial focus on rational choice and maximum profit.