Sometimes the smoke created by conflict and violence makes it difficult to see movements towards peace and reconciliation. If headlines in the media are to be believed, the Middle East is witnessing nothing but conflict. But beyond the gloom is a glimmer of hope. Leading policymakers and opinion makers in the Middle East are meeting and exchanging ideas on how to build long term and sustainable cooperation and peace in the region. They are forging personal bonds. They are learning, developing and refining tools for improving governance within countries and overcoming age-old distrust between countries. This journey and this community is known as the Blue Peace.
At its core, the Blue Peace is about transforming water from a potential source of crisis into a potential instrument of cooperation and peace through concrete action. Released in 2011 by the then-President of Switzerland, the 'Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water' report made ten recommendations for actions that could be attempted even in a pessimistic situation. The report was co-sponsored by the governments of Sweden and Switzerland.
The Blue Peace in the Middle East: Progress Report reviews the progress in advancing these recommendations over the last four years. These recommendations range from small, short-term confidence-building measures between two countries to long-term ones that involve the entire region.
The establishment of the Blue Peace community, involving current and former ministers, parliamentarians, senior advisors, academics and scientific experts, has now led to the creation of the Blue Peace Media Network. The Network, comprising of almost a hundred media houses, television channels, newspapers, magazines and social media presences, has played a critical role in shaping public opinion in favour of sustainable and collaborative approach to water management in the region. Rough estimates indicate that the Blue Peace Media Network has sensitized almost 30 million people over the last two years.
The Blue Peace process is led by HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan and is supported by eminent leaders in the Middle East region from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
In the ultimate analysis, Blue Peace is a process of over two hundred champions of the cause whose courage, commitment and catalytic capacity gives millions of people in the Middle East the means to transform the present context of despair into a reality of hope.