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News Official Report of the Parliamentarian's Water Forum in the Arab World and Surrounding Countries ( Turkey and Iran), Beirut, 13th - 15th of May 2010

This is the recommendation that came out of the Arab parliamentarian Forum + Turkey & Iran. As a Board Governor in the World Water Council, the Association of the Friends of Ibrahim Abdel Al, has organized this forum on May 2010, in the Lebanese Parliament, in Beirut, in collaboration with the Parliamentary Commission on Water & Energy and the WWC, under the Patronnage of HE Mr Nabih Berri, The President of the Lebanese Parliament.  

 Official Report


Parliamentarian's Water Forumin the Arab World and Surrounding Countries

( Turkeyand Iran)


Beirut,13th - 15th of  May2010


Day 1




Under thePatronage of His Excellency the President of the Lebanese National Assembly, MrNabih Berri, and in collaboration with the World Water Council and theAssociation of the Friends of Ibrahim Abd El Al, the Parliamentary Committeefor Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water organized a Parliamentarians'Water Forum in the Arab World and Surrounding countries (Turkey and Iran), onthe 13th and 14th of May 2010. Participants undertook a fieldtrip to the LitaniRiver projects on Saturdaythe 15th. Parliamentarians and representatives from the followingcountries participated in the forum: Algeria,Bahrain, Egypt, Irak, Iran, Jordan,Lebanon, Morocco, Oman,Palestine, SaudiArabia, Sudan,Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen. The Secretary General ofParliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Conference Member States andthe Secretary General of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union also participatedin the forum.

Day one wasdevoted to critical water issues in the region and included presentations byLebanese and international experts on water policies, laws and conventions. Daytwo provided an opportunity to consult participants in detail on theestablishment of a Parliamentarians' Helpdesk for Water on the initiative ofthe World Water Council.


Opening session:


Mr Kabbani,President of the Parliamentary Committee of Public Works, Transport, Energy andWater opened the forum with a message from the President of the NationalAssembly, Mr Nabih Berri. He spoke about the natural challenges affecting waterresources in the Arab world and of the need for Arab countries to collaborateto ensure their water security, including through establishing better water managementpolicies, seeking new sources of water, and working under existing InternationalConventions. In order to ensure a common position on water issues,Parliamentarians should seek the support of an interactive data base on legislationand scientific information provided through a Helpdesk.


Mr. HachmiKennou, Governor of the World Water Council, read a message on behalf of thePresident of the World Water Council, Mr Loic Fauchon. He stressed the role ofParliamentarians in law making and in contributing to new, open perspectives thatcan ensure sustainable and coherent future water policies. He stated that parliamentarianshad played a key role in the political process leading up to the 5th WorldWater Forum in Istanbulwhich had brought together an unprecedented 250 parliamentarians from more than50 countries to address water issues. This symbolized the starting point in atrue partnership between the water community and parliamentarians and from the forumin Istanbul hademerged the idea of a Helpdesk, providing an informational and networking tool whichwould assist Parliamentarians in tackling water issues. Mr Hachmi Kennouconcluded the President's intervention by noting that the 6th WorldWater Forum, which would be held in Marseille in March 2012, would be devotedto the achievement of solutions to water challenges.


The Minister ofEnergy and Water, His Excellency Mr Jibran Bassil, attended the morning sessionand presented on the situation facing the Lebanese water sector. He stressed themisperception that Lebanonwas a water-rich country and noted that water shortages occur. In providing anoverview of the country's water strategy he outlined the reforms that weretaking place to laws and the institutions, including the creation of anintegrated administration. Campaigns were required at all levels, he said, inorder to raise levels of public awareness on critical water issues facing Lebanon.The Minister also outlined the importance of international rivers to thecountry and the role that Lebanoncould play in managing these key resources.


Technical paperswere then presented by Dr Wajdi Najem, Dr Youssef Karam, Dr Hammou Lamrani, DrAlejando Iza and Dr Mark Zeitoun. These papers covered water demand management,water quality, water resources management, and international water law andwater conventions. Issues stressed included the need to establish better datasources on water, and stronger definition of water demand in relation toavailability. There was also a critical need to reduce wastewater productionand to establish a master plan to protect water resources. More reuse ofrecycled water could take place in irrigated agriculture, industry and in othersectors. Lebanon,it was noted, would benefit greatly from a more functioning sanitation network.


Overall therewere challenges, but also important assets available. These could be harnessed toplan sector development, and to value water resources more accurately. Oneimportant policy issues was how best to establish joint public-privatemanagement arrangements. There was general agreement that ways existed forparliamentarians to catalyze change in water sector and that they should playsuch a role including support to awareness-raising campaigns, and inestablishing more  effective cooperationarrangements. There were major challenges at a regional level. These includedachieving a more structured benefit-sharing approach to allow optimal benefitsharing arrangements to emerge from enhanced cooperation, for more coherentenvironmental diplomacy within the region and for greater importance to beattached to International Water Laws and Conventions.


Day 2




The President ofthe Association of the Friends of Ibrahim AbdEl Al, Mr Nasser Nasrallah openedthe session by describing the Water balance in Lebanon showing clearly andscientifically that the water needs will exceed its availability. He talkedabout the link between the topics discussed the first day and the Helpdeskconcept. Moreover he stressed on the need to build a strong and sustainablerelationship with the World Water Council, on a regional and internationalbasis and he highlighted the importance of tackling water issues fairly.


A facilitateddialogue took place on the concept and process of developing and establishing aWater Helpdesk for online support to parliamentarians. Dr Alan Nicol, Directorof Policy and Programmes at the World Water Council, outlined the origin of theidea and how such a Helpdesk might function. Following this three parallelroundtables addressed core questions and then during a plenary session asynthesis was made of the output and the following recommendations were agreedupon:


What content should the Helpdesk provide?


  • Each country's main details and challenges, including water resources assessments per country and shared water resources information (such as water quality, quantity, rainfall, population needs, wastewater/pollution, scarcity)
  • Existing research on water resources in the Arab countries, Turkey and Iran
  • Events taking place in the region and at a global level (conferences/seminars, etc)
  • Past and present treaties, conflicts and ethical issues (multi-, bilateral and between groups of countries)
  • Information must be verifiable and credible (i.e. properly sourced/referenced), and there should avoidance of duplication
  • Information should be included which is published by states themselves (and by specific initiatives taken by the League of Arab States)
  • Common terminology and definitions should be adopted and used
  • Information should be included on the Occupied Arab Territories
  • The Helpdesk should include information on sources of pollution and actions taken


In what ways should the Helpdesk function (from being static to being moredynamic)?


  • It should both raise awareness and provide public information
  • Help parliamentarians to solve the water problems they face
  • It should not be used to impose or take positions on issues at any level
  • It should enable use by independent institutions
  • Academic institutions should also be able to use the Helpdesk
  • It should provide links to Civil Society Organisations
  • The Helpdesk should call on states to provide and update information
  • The Helpdesk should have a capacity to exchange data
  • It should link to official websites (to further enable access to information)
  • Move gradually from being more static to being more dynamic
  • Provide a blog facility for parliamentarians (which is password protected)
  • Enable opinion pieces/position papers to be posted
  • Include a password-protected section for specific use by parliamentarians


If there are anymajor constraints foreseen, how may these be overcome?


  • The Helpdesk function will be for the Arab countries, Turkey and Iran
  • How the desk will be hosted and managed needs to be addressed
  • There is a need to plan proper funding for the website (due to anticipated costs / sustainability issues)
  • There is a need to maintain an interesting website to which users will continue to be drawn
  • Information should be user-friendly (including capacity for non-expert use)
  • Languages used should be Arabic (official), plus other (English, Francais, Espanol)


A suggestion wastabled to host the focal point of the Helpdesk for Parliamentarians (Arabcountries, Turkey and Iran) in Lebanon.


A vote of thankswas given to the three organizing institutions and the meeting was concluded.

Contact information Imane Abd El Al, Treasurer, Association of the Friends of Ibrahim Abd El Al, Independence Str. | Villa Abd El Al | P.O.Box 114981| Zip Code 11072180| Beirut, Lebanon (email:
Phone: +961-1-655898 | Fax: +961-1-644800
News type Inbrief
File link n/a
File link local 20100513_finalrecoparlen.doc (DOC, 148 Kb)
Source of information Association of the Friends of Ibrahim Abd El Al
Geographical coverage Lebanon
News date 08/06/2010
Working language(s) ENGLISH