Cross border desert research- science and collaboration



Dr. Suleiman Halasah- Integrated Green Solutions, Jordan and Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

Rina Kedem- Dead Sea and Arava Science Center and Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.

Numerous communities around the world are affected by political conflict between countries, particularly in border regions. Since geopolitical borders are manmade, they often cross natural resources, habitats or unique landscapes. Therefore, border-region communities tend to share the impact of conflict as well as natural resources and environmental challenges, all of which affect their daily lives (Arieli, 2012; 2015; Conca & Dabelko, 2002; Jacoby, 1973; Levy, 2009; Ratner et al., 2013).

Although many violent conflicts have ended in agreements, they continue to suffer from implementation predicaments and continue to be volatile. Predicaments include lack of direct implementation of items of the agreement, lack of follow up and enforcement, as well as violation of agreement items (Bekoe, 2016; Braniff, 2012; Bruch et al., 2009). Post-conflict regions are prone to reoccurrence of conflict on one hand, while on the other, official peace agreements can facilitate joint solutions to shared problems and needs (Rustad & Binningsbo, 2012). The environment can be a catalyst of cooperation and conflict, with the potential to improve or induce existing conflict and post-conflict conditions, particularly in border communities (Bruch, et al., 2009; Madani et al., 2014; Rustad & Binningsbo, 2012)

Environmental cooperation between countries became essential and dominant in global environmental governance strategies since the second half of the 20th century. The effectiveness and implementation of international environmental regimes has been vastly researched (Jackson & Buhr, 2015; Mushkat, 2013; Young, 2001; 2011). Yet there is very little or no specific reference to the environmental regime between countries in post- conflict relations

The southern border communities in Israel and Jordan are both under constant threats of desertification and global climate change. Environmental and scientific cooperation efforts have been practiced since the signing of the Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994. International agencies, universities and local NGO’s have been involved in such cooperation which produced by now rich experiences and conceptual frameworks

Some of the questions which will be discussed in the suggested panel include:

  • To what extent does research cooperation improve well being of communities and their specific resilience in facing desertification and global climate change?
  • • Is the scientific cooperation a goal or a method in achieving other tiers of cooperation and what theories approach these different approaches?

    • What are the challenges researchers experience in promoting such research and its specific potential contribution in the field of desertification?

    • What are the methodological challenges to asses the contribution of collaborative research and how can they be mitigated?

    • What are the recommendations experienced researchers can provide for promoting more collaborative research?

    This session is dedicated to papers focused on various aspects of scientific collaboration in post-conflict situations, namely Israel- and Jordan. Topics can include: the contribution of such collaboration to natural systems as well as community resilience and cooperation, the methodological challenges in assessing the success of such collaboration, and specific research on the topic of climate change, desertification and their cross-border nature and mitigation strategies. Contributions are invited from natural and social science disciplines as well as an invitation to test key assumptions and predictions of environmental peacebuilding theories.

    The session will introduce and discuss theory and case studies of environmental cooperation through desert research. Case studies form around the world and specifically from Israel and Jordan will be presented as well as the challenges and opportunities of such collaboration. Whether the collaboration is motivated by science or a wish for good relations it can serve the wellbeing of the environment and the cooperation itself. Nevertheless, its contribution to community wellbeing and desert literacy must be assessed.

    The session will include local speakers from Israel and Jordan and an international expert from the field of environmental peacebuilding.



    Susan Sgorbati
    Director, Center for the Advancement of Public Action; Bennington College, USA
    Prof. Daniel Orenstein
    Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning; Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
    Dr. Abeer Albalawneh
    Expert Researcher, Head of the Ecosystem Research department; Environment and Climate Change Directorate; National Agricultural Research Center (NARC), Jordan
    Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed
    Academic Director, The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and Dead Sea and Arava Science Center, Israel
    Prof. Asim Zia
    Public Policy & Computer Science: Department of Community Development and Applied Economics & Department of Computer Science; University of Vermont, USA