“Water Wars”—and the geography of hope—was the subject of a Keynote lecture to 5,000 listeners at the Chautauqua Institution this summer, as author Don Belt capped National Geographic “Water Week” at Chautauqua with a description of how the Jordan River, and FOEME, present a model for how geopolitical neighbors, even in the world’s toughest neighborhoods, can peacefully resolve conflicts over diminishing water resources.
Founded in 1835, Chautauqua, in upstate New York, is one of the oldest and most revered educational institutions in America.
Focusing his talk on some of the world’s most contentious watersheds—the Ganges-Brahmaputra, the Tigris-Euphrates, and the Jordan—Belt drew from his 25-year career at National Geographic to humanize and explain geopolitical conflicts over water. His remarks about the Jordan river were based on his article, “Parting the Waters,” which appeared in National Geographic magazine’s special Water issue (May 2010). In it Belt quoted FOEME Director Gidon Bromberg about environmental peacemaking efforts on the Jordan River, and covered FOEME initiatives such as the 2009 Water Quality Survey and Good Water Neighbors programs.
“This is one of the most important issues in the world right now, as the effects of climate change begin to impact rivers and groundwater supplies, creating conditions unlike anything we’ve seen in human history,” said Belt. He says the audience at Chautauqua—thousands of curious, pro-active global citizens—were excited to hear about efforts to save the Jordan River, and the spirit of cross-border cooperation that empowers local communities. “In a world in which everyone talks about ‘water wars,’ it’s inspiring to hear about the peacemakers.”
For more information on Don Belt, an award-winning journalist, acclaimed teacher and public speaker visit www.donbelt.org.