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Eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention

10 - 12 October 2018

Astana, Kazakhstan

Opportunities for Water Diplomacy in Conflict-prone Regions

Date and time
: Wednesday, 10 October, 1.30-2.45pm
Location: Astana EXPO Congress Center, Room n°3. Esil
Languages: English and Russian

Event description:

Given the central role freshwater resources play for humans and ecosystems, transboundary freshwater basins can at once be a source of conflict but also an opportunity for institutionalizing cooperative behavior. The international community eagerly supports transboundary water cooperation due to the potential for motivating peace building and regional integration yet tangible political spillovers from technical cooperation on water are often difficult identify.
Against this backdrop, this SIWI side event specifically looks to elevate discussion around the role of shared water resources as a tangible entry point for sustained dialogue and conflict prevention in regions prone to political tensions and armed violence. Despite sensationalist mainstream media characterizations around ‘impending water wars’, the available evidence suggests discussion and management of shared water resources leads more often to cooperative efforts rather than conflict escalation. The Panel will reflect on the evidence base for lessons learnt about cooperation and conflict between riparian countries from diverse water diplomacy processes. Key themes such as how water dialogues benefit riparian countries - technically, socially, environmentally and economically, creating opportunities ‘beyond water’ to enhance mutual understanding; and how the international community can improve efficiencies around its collective actions on water diplomacy to support riparian countries affected by water scarcity, political tensions, and armed violence.
The audience is invited to discuss with the panelists how water diplomacy in conflict prone basins may serve as a catalyst for enhancing regional development, promoting resilience to climate change, and reducing the risk of geopolitical tension amongst riparian countries.  Conversely, panelists may highlight instances where interstate cooperation originating outside of the water sector may have catalyzed greater cooperation within. 

Draft programme:

Introduction/Welcoming remarks – 5 min
Understanding Water diplomacy – 10 min
Lessons learnt from Iraq – 10 min
Lessons learnt from Afghanistan – 10 min
Lessons learnt from Somalia – 10 min
Reflections and putting water diplomacy into action (panel discussion/Q&A) – 30 min
Concluding remarks – 2 min