A new paper, “The Rise of Hydro-Diplomacy: Strengthening Foreign Policy For Transboundary Waters” was recently released at World Water Week by Climate Diplomacy, a collaborative effort of the Federal Foreign Office and Berlin-based think tank adelphi.
The paper argues that foreign policy makers can and should do more to address transboundary water governance, and that by doing so it could enhance intersecting foreign policy interests. It includes multiple detailed examples of where transbounday water governance can be improved, and highlights the role climate change will play in contributing to water stress, stating:
The significance of access to water is growing as demographic and economic drivers as well as deteriorating water quality interact with climate change that will regionally increase water scarcity and variability.
The paper was authored by an impressive list of foreign policy and water specialists [lead author: Benjamin Pohl (adelphi, Berlin); contributing authors: Alexander Carius (adelphi, Berlin), Ken Conca (American University, Washington, DC), Geoffrey D. Dabelko (Ohio University, Athens, OH), Annika Kramer (adelphi, Berlin), David Michel (The Stimson Center, Washington, DC), Susanne Schmeier (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GIZ GmbH, Eschborn), Ashok Swain (Uppsala University, Uppsala), Aaron Wolf (Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon)].
It concludes with a brief list of recommendations:
Given the substantial financial investments on the technical side of water infrastructure projects, there is a strong case for investing more on the diplomatic side. Puny by comparison, such in- vestments can yield significant benefits where they help countries reach agreements that realise the rewards of greater scale in cooperation or at least help them avoid the costs of conflict. This report discussed various forms that such investments can take:
• capacity building in national water institutions and foreign offices, with specific attention to the links between water management and conflict resolution;
• advocacy for bilateral and multilateral confidence-building processes, such as the promotion of joint (scientific) risk assessments and joint water monitoring systems;
• preventive engagement, including offers to support unbiased fact finding to reach transparency on water data and policy and the lending of ‘good offices’ in emerging or simmering conflicts; and
• strengthening of the existing institutions and legal instruments to enable both early warning and a clear pathway to early action
The full paper is available here, and is well worth a thorough read.