The focus of this paper is on two activities that are related to the management of international river basins. The first of these is a scientific report, which is now more than five years old and focuses on the management of the waters of this region of the Middle East. The second is the Rosenberg International Forum on water policy, a forum of water scholars and managers, which seeks to share experience in the resolution of conflict in managing international river basins. The first scientific report was the work of a team of scholars from this region of the Middle East who have examined the question of what contributions science might make to resolving the very serious problems of water scarcity that prevail in this area. The results of the work of this group suggest that science provides an important vehicle to help resolve many of the problems of the region, including the problems of water scarcity, through peaceful cooperation. This is particularly true for environmental problems where common action is required to manage common property if true solutions are to be realized.
In 1994 representatives of the principal science councils of Israel, Jordan, Palestine and the United States met to identify ways in which they might collaborate for the mutual benefit of their respective communities. The group concluded that one of the most critical problems of the Middle East region was the need for sustainable water supplies to serve and support the region. Ultimately, it was decided to undertake a joint study through a volunteer, multidisciplinary committee of experts, modeled after the approach used by the U.S. National Research Council.
The resultant committee was formed by the U.S. National Research Council of the National Academies, the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan, the Palestine Health Council and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Committee members, whose names are listed in Table 1, were drawn from Canada, Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the United States. The disciplines of the committee members ranged from law and economics to hydrology and engineering to ecology. The Committee met five times and developed a consensus report, a report that illustrates how scientific principles can form the intellectual basis for solutions to major problems confronting the region.
Prof. Vaux Jr. is a Professor at the Graduate School of the University of California, Berkeley and the Associate Vice President Emeritus of the University of California System. He previously served as Director of the Water Resources Center of the University of California and for 34 years, he was Professor of Resource Economics at the University of California, Riverside. His academic field is the economics of water resources. Prof. Vaux chairs the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy and is President of the Board of Directors of the Sacramento, CA based Water Education Foundation. He has served on numerous committees of the US National Academies and has been Chair of the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council from 1995 to 2001. He is a National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences.