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Distributed July 18, 2003
Contact Mary Jo Curtis

Middle East Environmental Futures
Brown to host workshop on Israeli/Palestinian environmental issues

The Watson Institute for International Studies will host more than 35 Israeli and Palestinian scholars when they gather to examine their region’s environmental problems and policies in a workshop program titled Middle East Environmental Futures July 21-25, 2003, at the Watson Institute.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – News from the Middle East most often carries headlines about conflict and strife, but there are other issues. A group of international scholars will gather at Brown University this month to address another pressing issue in that region: the state of the environment.

Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies will host a workshop initiating the Middle East Environmental Futures project July 21-25, 2003, at the Institute, 111 Thayer St. More than 35 scholars will participate in this effort to strengthen environmental policy decision making in the Middle East by establishing a standard process of research and policy analysis that will consider both the quality of the environment and the desires of the region’s population groups in regard to the natural environment. Most importantly, say its organizers, the project will be cooperatively researched and managed by Palestinian and Israeli scientists.

Editors: This program is not open to the general public, but its participants will be available to the media for interviews July 23-25. To make arrangements, please contact the News Service by e-mail ([email protected]) or telephone (401) 863-2476.

With a majority of its participants from Israel and Palestine and a few from North America, this international and interdisciplinary group will integrate its work in the social and natural sciences to generate meaningful research on such issues as land and water management, open space and biodiversity, population growth and sprawl, and pollution-based risks to human health. As they develop a broad set of policy recommendations and long-term research goals, the scholars will meet for a series of working sessions devoted to assessing environmental quality, building demographic, economic and political scenarios, and engaging in sociological research on human values vis-à-vis the environment.

“We will help define what people think the region’s environment looks like and, given the current trends, what we can expect it to look like in the future,” said Steven P. Hamburg, the Ittleson Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and director of the Watson’s Global Environment Program. “We hope to accurately portray the environmental quality of life of diverse communities, be they rural or urban, Jewish or Arab, farm or refugee camp, religious or secular.

“By integrating the natural and physical sciences with political, cultural and economic realities of the region, we can produce policy-relevant publications that will bring expert knowledge to community-level concerns,” Hamburg added. “The knowledge gained through this process will provide a basis for dialogue among community groups, non-governmental organizations, media and policy-makers that will inform and stimulate public discourse and policy-making for a healthier future environment in Palestine and Israel.”

The project will be coordinated by Hamburg, Jeff Albert, and Luce fellow Daniel Orenstein, all at Brown; Khaldoun Rishmawi from the Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem; Stuart Schoenfeld, from York University; Samer Alatout, of the University of Wisconsin–Madison; Yaakov Garb, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and David Brooks, from Friends of the Earth, Canada.

The project was initially conceived by a group of Israeli, Palestinian, American and Canadian scholars who gathered at the Watson Institute in July 2002 for a workshop titled Population, Consumption and Environment in Israel and Palestine. The project was developed in cooperation with York University and with the participation of researchers from the Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem; Arava Institute for Environmental Studies; Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the University of Haifa; the University of Vermont; and the Rural Center for Sustainable Development, Palestine.

Project findings will be integrated into policy-relevant documents and published in English, Hebrew, and Arabic for presentation to regional policy-makers, community organizations and the media.


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