Northwestern Center for Water Research: Tackling the water scarcity in the Middle East and Israel
This May, an interdisciplinary group of experts will connect together and explore the ramifications of water scarcity across the Middle East.
In a public symposium held at the Northwestern University, Illinois, the second annual symposium on water in the Middle East and Israel, will look at how water scarcity is driving conflict and social instability.
“Robust long-term solutions to water scarcity are necessary for stable societies in the Middle East, which is ground zero for this global threat because of an extremely limited water supply,” says Aaron Packman, Director of the Northwestern Center for Water Research.
“Drought and the associated reduction in food production contributed directly to the civil war in Syria and thus to the global migrant crisis we face today,” Packman said. “This connection between water crises, food crises, civil unrest and large-scale involuntary migration has been identified by the World Economic Forum as one of the most pressing global threats over the next five to 10 years.”
A word from the sponsors
The symposium will be sponsored by the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Buffet Institute for Global Research.
Six scholars will come together and explore the technological solutions to water scarcity, including desalination and precision agriculture; the socio-political aspects of water security in the Middle East; and strategies for international cooperation to achieve water security, peace and health in the region while factoring the added complication of climate change.
As the region’s leader om water management technology, including efficient irrigation and cutting-edge desalinisation techniques, Elie Rekhees, Associate Director for Israel Studies in Weinberg believes collaboration is key.
“The international community, the United Nations, humanitarian NGOs and academic research institutes can — and should — play a major role in enhancing cooperative policy.”
Climate change and the Middle East
Water scarcity is a problem confounded by the effect climate change has on the Middle East. The stakes are high to develop more resilient water systems and use water more efficiently in the region, especially with the specter of climate-change induced changes in precipitation patterns looming.
“The Middle East is definitely getting hotter, which means more evaporation and less overall water available,” Packman said. “Predications of future precipitation in the region are uncertain, and any shifts will cause disruptions and, potentially, threats.”
Speakers, topics and bios:
- Hussein Amery, associate professor of international studies at Colorado School of Mines
Topic: “Threats to water security on the Arab Gulf States”
- Jean Cahan, director/chair, Norman and Bernice Harris Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Nebraska
Topic: “Explaining and resolving water security tensions in the Middle East: What can the humanities contribute?”
- Yoram Cohen, distinguished professor of chemistry and biomolecular engineering at University of California, Los Angeles
Topic: “Advances in water treatment and desalination technology in Israel: Regional and global benefits and challenges”
- Naftali Lazarovitch, professor at Ben-Gurion University-Negev in Beersheba, Israel
Topic: “Irrigation studies in arid environments: From measurements and models towards sustainable crop production”
- Seth Snyder, water initiative leader at Argonne National Laboratory
Topic: “The state of technology for providing clean water”
- Neda Zawahri, associate professor of political science at Cleveland State University
Topic: “Adapting to climate change in the Middle East”
Second Annual Symposium on Water in Israel and the Middle East: Regional Water Sustainability and Resilience
May 24, 2017
9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Hardin Hall, Rebecca Crown Center, 633 Clark Street, Evanston Campus
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.