water diplomacy

With so many global challenges, where can the biggest impact be made on global publics? How can the case for public diplomacy be made more effectively to governments, corporations, NGOs and individuals? We can start by tackling the most pressing global issue—water. Water is essential for human life and although we are a blue planet, water is a scarce resource. More than one billion people do not have access to safe water.

The Indus is a transboundary stream governed between Pakistan and India through the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960. Celebrated by two generations of policy experts as a model of water diplomacy, the treaty has been subject to much acrimony, doubt and expert and lay speculation in the past decade. The underlying issue is that water scarcity in the region has increased significantly over the past decade.

Abu Dhabi raised its environmental profile even higher on the world stage yesterday with landmark announcements on water resources and carbon capture and storage...Influential international experts will discuss how water resources can be used more efficiently...

It is heartening to learn of the strong support for the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2012. The United States, through the State Department and USAID, is already doing good work in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. This new act will improve the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of existing U.S. international aid programs.

On 28 November 2011, the NCCR North-South Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) based in Bern and the ETH North-South Center based in Zurich sponsored a half-day conference, “Water diplomacy: transboundary rivers and international politics” at the Museum of Natural History in Basel. It explored the theme of water as an instrument of diplomacy, in particular how water management can be used to solve diplomatic conflict and how diplomacy can solve water conflicts and improve resource management.

After a six-month study into water diplomacy in cooperation with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Water Governance Centre, the Clingendael Diplomatic Studies Programme presents a final report with policy recommendations. The report examines the potential of water diplomacy for Dutch foreign policy and how involved actors can increase this potential. The focus is on water diplomacy, as seen from the Netherlands, in terms of niche diplomacy on transboundary water conflict prevention.

One group taking a hard look at how to solve the problem is the British-based charity WaterAid. When the organization analyzed why water points failed in Tanzania, it found something interesting: the most sustainable were those maintained by private contractors.