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Professor Chantal Thomas

Professor Chantal Thomas, Director of the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa

Water Scarcity and Policy Short
Cornell Law School to Host International Water Conference

Forum Hopes to Contribute to Water Policy in the Middle East and Mediterranean


October 28, 2011, Ithaca, NY: Today, Cornell Law School announced that it will host a three-day inter-disciplinary conference on November 4-6, 2011: Water Scarcity and Policy in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Scholars from Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, Spain, Lebanon, Ethiopia, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Israel will gather at Cornell Law School to discuss the growing crisis of water in the region.

This is not only one of the most water-stressed regions of the world; it is widely considered to have the most potential for conflicts over scarce water resources. The UN and the World Bank have both issued warnings about the international implications of this situation, if it is not urgently addressed. The conference will initiate dialogue across geographic and disciplinary borders; bringing together students, Cornell faculty and international scholars to consider the legal, technical, political and cultural problems of the region.

Three distinguished speakers include: Baylie Damtie, President of Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia; Professor Stephen McCaffrey, McGeorge Law School, University of the Pacific, a world expert on international water law; and Dr. Michael Scoullos, President of Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean.  Presentations will cover topics such as the relationship between drought and climate; changes in policy approaches to waste water management; and water law and governance.

On Friday afternoon, November 4, Cornell Law Students and others will host a pre-conference panel, followed by a reception featuring President Baylie Damtie. On Saturday, November 5 there will be panels on water rights and management; hydrology and climate; Mediterranean perspectives; and water issues in Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Stephen McCaffrey will give the lunchtime address and Michael Scoullos will speak immediately following the panels. On Sunday, there will be a discussion concerning the present water crisis, and suggestions on how this forum might contribute to drafting a policy for the future of the region.

The conference is sponsored by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, the Cornell Law School's Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa, the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, the Mediterranean Initiative of the Cornell Institute for European Studies and Higher Education for Development. For further information about the conference, contact Gail Holst-Warhaft, Tammo Steenhuis, or Chantal Thomas.  For more information go to the conference website.