Birzeit University, Palestine
The Palestinian-Dutch Academic Cooperation on Water (PADUCO), organized an internal symposium at Birzeit University during the period 25-26 March 2019. During this event, the Institute of Environmental and Water Studies celebrated the World Water Day 2019 and the 25th Anniversary of Collaboration between Palestinian and Dutch academic and research institutions.
The Palestinian-Dutch Academic Cooperation on Water (PADUCO) is a large consortium that gathers six Palestinian (Birzeit, Al-Najah, Al-Quds, Khadoorie, Polytechnic, and Islamic University of Gaza) and Five Dutch (Twente, TU-Delft, Wagenninegen, Vrij University of Amsterdam, and IHE-Delft) Universities and Research Institutes. PADUCO is funded by the Government of the Netherlands through the NRO office in Ramallah.
The symposium aimed at presenting the progress of 5 integrated research projects and 10 small re-search projects that are being implemented within the PADUCO framework. The symposium was at-tended by a large number of Palestinian and Dutch participants representing the partner universities, governmental and non-governmental institutions and the private sector. The two-day agenda of the symposium comprised of 26 scientific presentations which are a result of the ongoing 15 research projects. These papers concentrated on four main themes: i) agricultural water demand, ii) industrial wastewater management, iii) water and wastewater treatment, and iv) cross-cutting themes such as gender and governance.
In his opening remarks, Asem Khalil, the Vice-President for Community Affairs at Birzeit University, stressed the role played by academic and research institutions in solving the water problems affecting Palestine due to the unjust and illegal control of natural resources by the Israeli occupation, adding that the longstanding cooperation between the university and Dutch academic institutions is now in its 25th year, and a good model of sustainable and lifelong collaboration between the Global North and South institutions. Touching base on the celebrations of the World Water Day 2019, Mr. Khalil stated that the Palestinians are left behind which is against the Theme for this year by the UN
Rashed Al-Sa’ed, Director of the Institute of Environmental and Water Studies, emphasized the real-life impact of the projects highlighted at the symposium, saying that they will bring about genuine changes to the living quality of Palestinians.
Floor Nuiten, Deputy Head of Mission and the Head of Cooperation at Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah, acknowledged the promising recent developments in the water sector in Palestine, but noted that such a situation requires an integrated solution that includes universities and research centers, adding that research papers and studies in this regard must be translated into real-life policies for the benefit of Palestinians.
Gül Özerol, a professor who specializes in researching sustainability in governance and technology and the PADUCO coordinator at the University of Twente, said that cross-cooperation between national and international academic institutions, sustainable solutions, and targeted training programs and courses are the three key areas of focus that would help affect change in the water sector in Palestine.
Hazem Kittaneh, director general of technical affairs at Palestinian Water Authority, explained that such symposia help push forward the sustainable development process that relies on extensive cooperation between research centers and institutions, the government, and the private sector.
Issam Nofal, director general of the Agricultural Water & Irrigation Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, affirmed the Palestinian population’s rights to their natural resources, and detailed the adverse effects of the Israeli measures on the Palestinian agriculture sector.
Issa Mousa, director general of the Environment Quality Authority, called for the results and recom-mendations of the symposium to be drafted into a policy brief that advises decision-makers on the wa-ter sector in Palestine.
The symposium, featured a keynote presentation by Maher Abu-Madi, The National Coordinator of PADUCO; Gül Özerol, The Dutch Coordinator of PADUCO; and Subha Ghannam, the Water Policy Officer at the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah, on the history, current state, and future of PADUCO.
The recommendations of the symposium emphasized the flowing:
• The Palestinians must seek to get their water rights which are denied by the Israeli occupation.
• Importance of research is finding sustainable solutions to the various problems of the Palestinian water sector. This research needs to be in close collaboration between academia and the different stakeholder institutions including the private sector.
• More attention is needed to the linkages between research and industries.
• More funding is needed by the Palestinian research institutions to be able to implement projects with impact on the Palestinian communities.