He highlighted during his presentation the fact that Confidence building Measures (CBMs) are not only military, diplomatic, political, or cultural in their nature, but they can also be of a technical and would have more chance of success if a common enemy can be found. Joint projects on river basins and trans-boundary aquifers, climate change, desertification, cross-border pollution including de-pollution of the Mediterranean, and environmental early warning systems (on tsunamis, forest fires, earthquakes, etc.) are areas where cooperation can contribute to confidence building.
Deputy Secretary General for Water & Environment also shared some guiding tips, for promoters of joint Environmental projects as Confidence Building Measures including defining a “common environmental enemy” for the “current political enemies”; creation of purely technical shared views; acceptance of “variable geometry” and not pushing states where they don’t want to go; developing a genuine process for planning together; aiming to promote equality between the parties; showing equal respect for all sides; being an honest broker trusted by all sides; going without publicity if one side does not feel comfortable with it and striving to change win-lose or lose-lose situations into a win-win. Dr. Husseini added a (pre-requisite tip): “to ensure that a viable political process is ongoing and moving in parallel, otherwise building confidence becomes difficult to achieve”.
During his visit to Vienna, Dr. Husseini met with Dr. Alexander Springer, Austrian UfM Senior Official, and Head of Bilateral Economic Relations with the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and Dr. Robert Konency, Senior official of Surface Waters at the Austrian Environment Agency. The Austrian officials indicated that they will instigate the preparation of a list of Austrian water and environment experts, who could act as short-term seconded experts to the UfM Secretariat, providing technical input on project proposals and helping the Secretariat turn some of the good national project ideas into regional or sub-regional projects.