CPD Hosts Policy Briefing on Water & Public Diplomacy in Washington, D.C.

On April 16, CPD hosted a policy briefing on water and public diplomacy in Washington, D.C. as part of the CPD Water Diplomacy Initiative.

Held at the USC Federal Relations Office, the CPD briefing brought together panelists to discuss global water challenges, U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy. CPD director Philip Seib chaired the session which included Jaehyang So, managing director of the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program, Dr. Katherine Bliss, director of the CSIS Project on Global Water Policy and Naomi Leight, CPD Assistant Director for Research & Publications.

Ms. So set the stage for the briefing by providing the attendees with a thorough overview of why water matters. Dr. Bliss then outlined U.S. foreign policies that address water challenges. Following the presentations by these speakers, both of whom participated in CPD's February 27 conference at USC Water Diplomacy: A Foreign Policy Imperative, Ms. Leight made the case for public diplomacy as the ideal tool for addressing water challenges and presented CPD's public diplomacy recommendations for fulfilling U.S. foreign policy commitments on that front. The recommendations for the sectors of water, development and diplomacy stress: 1) water diplomacy as a priority for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development; 2) the fulfillment of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 205; 3) the establishment of an internationally coordinated water diplomacy working group.

At the conclusion of the formal presentations, attendees and panelists engaged in an open discussion on how to move forward in the area of water and public diplomacy. The group consisted of congressional staffers, State Department and foreign embassy personnel and NGO staff, many of whom shared first-hand experiences of working in the field of water diplomacy. Permeating the discussion was the need to listen to foreign publics and the opportunities to be innovative. In addition, attendees stressed that public diplomacy could reach its greatest potential through advocacy and raising awareness of water issues in the global media. Particular attention should be paid to programming by the Departments of Defense and Agriculture and to the role played by women and communities of faith in shaping the outcome of water challenges. In the final analysis, everyone agreed that water is an issue that cannot be ignored, that it must be addressed in a cooperative and coordinated manner between governments and publics, and that public diplomacy is the right tool for this global issue.

To read CPD's policy brief in full, click here.

Visit the Center's Water Diplomacy Initiative research page here where you can learn more about CPD's research and programming and read the Call for Papers to find out how to participate in the scholarship on water diplomacy.

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