EWI Event at the UN Focuses on Water Partnership and Dialogue

More than 150 people packed the room for “Ways to Integrate Efforts in Furthering Water Dialogue and Cooperation,” a UN side-event hosted by the EastWest Institute,the Permanent Mission of Tajikistan to the UN, UN Water and the Water Friends Group on Friday, February 22, at the UN Headquarters in New York City. This event underlined UNGA resolution 65/154 declaring 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation (IYWC).

Zafar Adeel, director of the United Nations University, Institute for Water, Environment and Health, moderated a distinguished panel of experts who helped identify and address global action points for water dialogue and partnerships.

“The time for silo thinking is over,” Ursula Schaeffer-Preuss, chair of the Global Water Partnership, said in her remarks which focused on sustainable approaches. She urged nations to think outside of the traditional ways of tackling water management issues. “This is a global issue that cannot be addressed from one vantage point.”

Olcay Ünver, coordinator of the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme of the UN-Water and director of the UNESCO Programme Office on Global Water Assessment, echoed that sentiment. “Many of the challenges to water security and management come from other sectors and water managers are seldom consulted when dealing with these challenges,” said Ünver.

“Water must become part of the equation,” he continued, stressing that water impacts a huge number of issues in any nation—including public health, jobs, energy, food, sustainability and many women’s issues.

Sanjay Pahuja, senior water resources specialist at the World Bank, stressed the importance of education as key to water cooperation, illustrating his point with an example of Indian farmers, who moderated their own water use after learning pertinent elements of hydrogeology.

“Let the farmers be the scientists,” Pahuja stated, as he elaborated on this bottom-up approach.

Panelists address the crowd at the UN.

He explained further that these farmers did not have much formal education, yet they were able to develop a proficiency that increased their profits and positively impacted their standard of living. “This is how we can alter the course of people’s lives,” Pahuja added.

An additional panelist, Christian Holmes, USAID’s Global Water coordinator, stressed the importance of data exchange as a key catalyst to change. “Bilateral and regional development provide replicable opportunities,” he said.

EWI President John Mroz emphasized that water is key to nation building and that nations must act on it. “We are all aware of this. Now, it’s no longer enough to name the ball, now we have to move the ball down the playing field,” he urged event participants.

The International Year of Water Cooperation is intended to unify all efforts, both undertaken and planned by the UN system, other international and regional organizations, governments, civil society and entrepreneurs, in order to increase people's awareness of freshwater-related problems and ways to resolve them. This follows the 2012 UNGA adopted resolution (A/Res/67/204) on the implementation of the IYWC through convening a series of global high-level events.

EWI Partner E3G Releases Report on Economic and Political Challenges in the MENA Region

With funding from Planet Heritage, EWI has partnered with E3G, a European think tank focused on sustainable development, on a project examining how the Middle East and North Africa's vulnerability to climate vulnerability to climate change and resource scarcity are further complicating the already sizable economic and political challenges facing these countries.

Focusing on studies of Egypt and Tunisia, this project has resulted in this new report, which argues that MENA countries already face disproportionate future challenges from and constraints on growth due to energy and water pressures, vulnerability to volatile international food prices, and climate impacts on critical industries.

Click here to download the E3G report Underpinning the MENA Transition: Delivering Climate, Energy and Resource Security.

According to E3G, climate challenges, population growth, and industrialization will result in a growing scarcity of water. Food prices are also expected to increase dramatically, contributing to economic shocks in the region. Developed countries have a strategic interest in successful democratic transitions but current support pledged to the region does not address the critical economic and resource challenges.

The report suggests that “external support for energy and resource investment should ‘stress test’ the value of long lived infrastructure against future resource and climate change scenarios to ensure their economic value is resilient in the medium term.” It goes on to recommend that donor countries and regional partners work together to focus on four strategic priorities: improving resilience to shocks, economic diversification into resource efficient industries, building resilient infrastructure, and focusing support on a few high-impact stability and development objectives.

EWI was pleased to work with E3G in holding workshops in Berlin, New York, Washington D.C., and Brussels with policymakers and relevant experts from the public and private sector for roundtable discussions on the issue. We are particularly grateful to Planet Heritage for funding the project and to the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, D.C., for hosting the roundtable there.

Launching the Policy Innovation Unit

EastWest Institute President John Mroz announced the appointment of Dr. Greg Austin to lead the Institute’s first Policy Innovation Unit, a new initiative, whose purpose will be to identify and produce a stream of policy papers on new and emerging areas of global risks, threats and challenges, using EWI’s large worldwide network of experts from a diverse number of fields as vital sources. The papers will identify and propose innovative solutions, involving both private and public sector collaboration. Papers already underway have the working titles of “Anticipating Global Economic Shock” and “Strategic Stability in Cyberspace.” Mroz praised Dr. Austin’s five-year track record of accomplishment as EWI Vice President and his unusual ability to advocate successfully in both East and West. The Policy Innovation Unit will also work with existing EWI programs to help them bolster their policy recommendations.

“As the global community is facing unprecedented challenges, we need to begin to marshal expertise in new ways and make sure it has the necessary influence,” said Austin. “EWI is perfectly situated to do that by working with leading figures from around the world on these critical issues.”

EWI Chairman Ross Perot, Jr. welcomed the appointment and the return of Austin to the EWI staff. He noted: “Few experts out there are as practical yet visionary as Greg. His new unit brings a long-needed focus to better using our global network to promote solutions to seemingly intractable problems that threaten peace, stability and the ability of nations to grow their economies and create jobs for their people. We are excited to see the impact that the Policy Innovation Unit will bring.”

Prior to his current position at EWI, Austin served for five years as a vice president of the institute. He is also a senior visiting fellow in the department of War Studies at King’s College London. Prior to joining EWI, Austin served as director of research at the Foreign Policy Center in London (2004-2006) and as a consultant to the UK Cabinet Office and four other government departments (2003-2004). He was the Asia program director, then director of research at the International Crisis Group (2000-2002). He is the author, co-author and editor of several books on China’s strategic policy. He has a doctorate in International Relations and master’s degree in International Law. He is currently writing a book on China’s cyber policies for publication later this year.

East Africa's "Emerging Resource Bonanza"

On January 31st, a panel session hosted by the EastWest Institute and Gallup in Washington, DC assessed the many challenges and opportunities presented by recent discoveries of oil and gas deposits in East Africa. According to the panel members, it is becoming evident that this region will soon be the site of an energy boom. Chinese companies are already playing a major role, and companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and Statoil have arrived to explore an area encompassing parts of Ethiopia, the southern tip of Madagascar, and much of the territory in between.

EWI Board Member Tewodros Ashenafi—Chairman and CEO of Southwest Energy, the first Ethiopian oil and gas exploration company—maintained that the “emerging resource bonanza” will transform the region dramatically. "The gas that is being discovered in Mozambique is really awe-inspiring,” he declared. “It has the opportunity to be the next Qatar."

In addition to the potential dividends for corporations and governments, Ashenafi pointed out that the regional cooperation needed to fully make use of oil fields and gas deposits would provide an opportunity for a “prosper-thy-neighbor instead of beggar-thy-neighbor approach.”

But the region still faces major challenges, which could impede development. Raymond Gilpin, director of the United States Institute of Peace’s Center for Sustainable Economies, cautioned that some projections about the time required to get new projects going may be too optimistic due to security and political obstacles. Many of the deposits “just happen to be in contested areas,” he noted. “You only prosper thy neighbor if you work with your neighbor.”

Unresolved territorial disputes have often stalled oil production in East Africa. For example, the oil fields in newly-established South Sudan were a major point of contention following its secession from Sudan in 2011.

An additional obstacle: many resource-rich countries in the region lack basic infrastructure, like pipelines and refineries for oil production. Cross-border collaboration could reduce costs for all stakeholders. The construction of secure pipelines would allow landlocked oil-producing countries like Uganda, for example, to export oil to Indian Ocean ports via Kenya.

Gilpin agreed that recent and future energy discoveries in the region could provide a “fiscal boon for African countries.” However, he also spoke of the “need to manage expectations.” The potential was significant, he continued, “but not like Saudi Arabia.”

Jon Clifton, a partner at Gallup Government Group, presented data on East African countries taken from the Gallup World Poll, a survey of local opinion on a number of issues, including corruption , well-being and how safe average citizens feel walking the streets. He also stressed the need to manage expectations, pointing out that public sentiment needs to be carefully monitored along with traditional metrics like GDP. A nation’s rising GDP, Clifton noted, “doesn’t mean that their well-being will rise in tandem.”

Abdeta Beyene, the former director general of African Affairs at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concurred that “East Africa is a resource-rich opportunity.” One of the most important facts to consider in looking at the potential of these discoveries, he noted, is that “the Horn of Africa is changing in terms of security.” Security remains a serious concern, but the panelists agreed that recent more positive trends are still often not recognized by outsiders. While Chinese companies haven’t hesitated to rush into the region to exploit the new opportunities, many Western companies are still vacillating.

Providing security concerns are addressed, oil and gas revenue could enable governments to develop domestic infrastructure—roads, schools, hospitals, sewage systems—promoting sustainable employment in rural areas and improving access to quality healthcare.

In order for these resources to be utilized in a beneficial manner, the panelists argued that there is an urgent need to develop the appropriate training and infrastructure, effective private-public partnerships, and for governments to adhere to existing international standards.

Ashenafi rejected that notion that a so-called “resource curse” may threaten East Africa. “I don’t think oil is a curse,” he said. “It’s like a knife: it depends what you do with it. It’s how these resources are organized.”

Gazprom's Uncertain Future

Writing for The Moscow Times, EWI Senior Fellow Danila Bochkarev discusses the impact of independent producers on Russia's gas market.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev shocked many in Davos on Wednesday when he told Bloomberg that "Gazprom may lose its monopoly on gas exports from Russia."

This statement underscores the rise of the independent gas producers and marks a paradigm shift for the Russian gas market. Last year, Gazprom's production decreased 5.4 percent, while the independents increased their output. For example, Novatek's production grew 7.1 percent in 2012.

Inside Russia, the key impact has been that Gazprom, the dominant supplier, lost important clients such as E.On Russia. There was a similar story at a previous development, when Qatari gas first started to compete in Europe. Traditional suppliers lost market share because of newcomers' competitive pricing.

Currently, gas trade in Russia is regulated by the Federal Tariffs Service, or FTS. While Gazprom has to respect FTS' prices within a 3 percent margin, independents can sell below the minimum tariffs, allowing them to gain market share. In an oversupplied gas market, the reintroduction of spot trading, expected this fall, could boost even more the expansion of the gas independents at the expense of Gazprom.

Independents have key advantages over Gazprom. They can secure new supply contracts, control lifting costs and buy gas production and distribution assets. Their ability to lobby for tax breaks has also contributed to their success. For example, the favorable tax regime was a key factor in Total's decision to partner with Novatek.

Independents' ambitions are not limited only to Russia. In November, Novatek requested an exemption from the gas export monopoly. If Novatek is successful, Rosneft, an emerging gas producer, might follow suit.

While the monopoly will formally remain intact, the energy independents may be allowed to bid for specific export quotas. If implemented, this measure will probably lead to a smaller Gazprom, which will have to increase its operational efficiency and will need to review some of its ambitious projects. But it will also improve the image and market position of Russian gas in Europe's liberalized energy market.

Click here to read this piece at The Moscow Times.

EWI Fellow Danila Bochkarev Quoted by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

In a recent interview, EWI fellow Danila Bochkarev said that shale gas and other unconventional forms of natural gas could play a big role in Ukraine's future. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that Ukraine is expected to sign a production-sharing agreement (PSA) with oil major Royal Dutch Shell worth an estimated $10 billion to develop the Yuzivska shale gas field, reducing its energy dependence on Russia.

Commenting on the value of shale gas and similar energy alternatives, Bochkarev held that they "can be quite an important source of natural gas and energy for the country."

Click here to read the article in full at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Bochkarev has recently published an EWI report on energy security solutions, available here.

Nextgen Essay Competition Winner Announced

The EastWest Institute’s nextgen essay competition, seeking submissions of at most 800 words from under-35s, received 58 entries from 20 countries. The primary criteria set by the judges were originality, creativity and feasibility. Because our essay question was very broad, we received a number of interesting ideas that, while creative and engaging, did not go far enough in terms of specificity of implementation. The central example put forth in the winning entry, the Winddrinker, went above and beyond the other submissions in that regard. The device the essay mentions combines a windmill and a desalination pump. It was demonstrated to work in April 2012 and is currently in the implementation phase in Somaliland.

The submission was written by Sjoerd Dijkstra, the 30-year-old project manager of the Winddrinker project. He identifies a broad problem but offers a specific solution. In awarding him first place, the EastWest Institute hopes to draw attention to this kind of thinking from the next generation, enhancing such efforts to make the world a safer and better place.



If I had the means, I would create a global public private partnership which solved water scarcity problems locally through innovation solutions. Water scarcity, driven by climate change, rising populations, and ad hoc management techniques has been a source of territorial conflict, particularly in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Clashes in this part of the world are frequently characterized in initial billing as being driven by Islamist ideology and extremism. Usually, the real drivers are extreme poverty and environmental stresses. It can be argued that water scarcity is a driver for the outcome of poverty, which in turn can lead to conflict.

Understandably, water scarcity solutions are usually framed through the lens of how to best share existing resources. As a result, impenetrable gridlock can arise because agreements cannot be reached. However, what if the question were pivoted and it became: how can we create more water in our communities?

In parts of the world where water scarcity exists, each locale faces different realities. For would-be problem solvers, there are different pathways forward which must navigate political, cultural, and regulatory differences. As a result, each solution should be localized. If an organization existed which, in tandem with the World Bank and UN, developed solutions for local problems through innovation approaches devised from the ground up, and positioned those initiatives for success by partnering with local governments to drive implementation and global for-profit funding to drive long term implementation, new breakthroughs could be achieved.

An example of innovation coming alive in a local environment where there is a need is the Winddrinker ( Designed by a Dutch engineering team, this streamlined technology desalinates salt water using only wind power and is cheap to install and maintain. Already in operation in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and run by a local water provider, the result has been to bring cheap water in greater quantity to a part of the world where water scarcity is dire. The results have been job creation and water sustainability. A PPP which systematically entered communities in need, developed affordable solutions like the Winddrinker, positioned them within local governments, and which was sustained by a long term global funding stream, would go a long way toward alleviating the global water scarcity problem. The offshoots from such intervention would be local job creation, improved public health, and likely reduced instances of conflict over resources.

Sjoerd Dijkstra (1981) holds a MSc-degree (2008) in Aerospace Engineering. In 2005, he was involved in an early stage of the high tech start-up TANIQ. Recently, Sjoerd worked as a business analyst at Royal DSM, for which he analyzed markets and developed strategies for DSM's second generation biofuels program. Currently, he works as a project manager for AIM (Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition), a GAIN managed collaboration with large Dutch players like DSM, Unlilever, Akzo Nobel, Rabobank, Wageningen University and Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sjoerd develops business cases to combat malnutrition in Africa and South-East Asia.


The EastWest Institute would also like to congratulate the four other finalists:

Michael Mylrea

Michael Krebs

Alixe Leclercq

Luciana Grosu

Danila Bochkarev on Lithuanian Energy Security

In an article assessing the implications of Lithuania's latest energy initiatives, which include a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and a new nuclear power plant in Visaginas, EurActiv cited EWI fellow Danila Bochkarev on their feasibility.

“I am positive regarding Lithuania’s ability to build LNG terminal," notes Bochkarev.

“The situation is less rosy with nuclear," he adds, "Visaginas plant is expected to cost €7 billion [or 20 % of GDP of Lithuania, 40 % of Estonia’s GDP or 32 % of Latvia’s GDP], a cost which is likely to increase during the construction, especially taking into account new safety requirements of post-Fukushima 'nuclear era'."

Click here to read the article at EurActiv.


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