2009 Australia-Israel Hawke Lecture

Water Security and Climate Change: Israel and the Middle East, with Australian reflections

Dr Clive Lipchin, Arava Institute, Israel

Monday 6 July 2009

Jointly presented by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre

Throughout history, water has posed one of the greatest challenges to humanity. Because it is a source of life, it is also a source of conflict. More than one billion people do not have access to safe water, and some 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation. However, the lack of access to water is not only due to its scarcity. Rather, the lack of access is due to unequal command of the resource, as well.

Climate change affects water security in many ways. As dry areas get drier and wet areas get wetter, populations will become more vulnerable to hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. Changing patterns of irrigation and agricultural production will also affect national economies and regional politics. Climate change, in short, will do no less than exacerbate the strains that already exist between access to water, inequality, and power.

In the face of these impacts, this talk will present how Israel and the Middle East can address changing flows of trans-boundary waters, irrigation and hydrological interdependence in terms of a changing climate. The talk will discuss the types of water management strategies that will be necessary if Israel and the Middle East is to both meet the needs of its population, while also setting water use levels within the limits of ecological sustainability and political sensitivities.

Dr Lipchin will reflect on the water issues in Australia and how these relate to the solutions being developed in the Middle East.


The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) is a regional centre for environmental leadership. By encouraging environmental cooperation between peoples, the Arava Institute is working towards peace and sustainable development on a regional and global scale.

As a member of the Arava Institute faculty Clive teaches courses in sustainable development, water management, scientific research methodology and culture and environment interactions. Clive also serves as the director of the Arava Institute's Center for Environmental Policy and Research where he oversees research projects, workshops and conferences that focus on trans-boundary environmental problems facing Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Most recently he has been involved in a regional project on assessing impacts on the declining water level of the Dead Sea. This project was conducted jointly with Palestinian and Jordanian partners and funded by the European Union.

Currently, he is part of a research team working on the World Bank sponsored feasibility study of the Red Sea-Dead Sea conduit. He is conducting research on the environmental impact assessment of the proposed project.

Clive also serves as senior consultant for Arava Environmental Consulting & Technologies, the for-profit arm of the Arava Institute. He specializes in corporate social environmental responsibility.

Clive recently served as senior editor on the book "Integrated Water Resources Management in the Middle East", published by Springer Scientific Publishers of the Netherlands. The book was an outcome of an international conference on water management that brought together over sixty water professionals from around the world. The conference was organized and hosted by the Arava Institute with support from the NATO Science for Peace and Security program.

While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our cultural diversity - and building our future. 

While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future. The Hawke Centre reserves the right to change their program at any time without notice.