Universities Partnership for Water Cooperation and Diplomacy

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Water management is conflict management. From the Aral Sea to the Zambezi river, water disputes are a priority at local, regional, national, and international levels. Worldwide, water demands are growing, groundwater levels are dropping, water bodies are increasingly contaminated, and delivery and treatment infrastructure is aging. The potential for conflict and the need for cooperation between watershed stakeholders will increase as problems become more acute. The global university community, with its inherent mission of teaching, research, and service, has much to offer in addressing the challenges of preventing and resolving transboundary water disputes.

The Universities Partnership for Water Cooperation and Diplomacy is a consortium of academic expertise in fields related to water resources conflict prevention and resolution, including research institutions on five continents. The coordination is shared by the Geneva Water Hub (Switzerland) along with six universities including the German-Kazakh University (Kazakhstan), IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (The Netherlands), Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (India), the International Water Management Institute (Sri Lanka), Oregon State University (USA), the University for Peace (Costa Rica), and the University of Zimbabwe. Twenty universities on five continents have expressed interest in participating; a scoping meeting was held in Delft, the Netherlands in January 2018, and a formal announcement was made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in February 2018.

The institutions involved in the Partnership comprise both policy and technical expertise within and beyond their respective regions and across academic disciplines. The local networks of each partner institution extend the reach of the consortium to include policy makers and practitioners and thus will encourage dialog and capacity-building between North and South, East and West, and among different professional sectors.

The activities of the Partnership will focus on key socioeconomic and geopolitical issues in shared water management at local, regional, national, and international levels. All activities would be explicitly linked and integrated within four coordinated focus areas:

  • Coordinated applied research;
  • Shared and unified data accumulation, analysis, and distribution;
  • Capacity-building training for local, regional, and international basin stakeholders, as well as for graduate students in water-related fields.

Universities offer tremendous resources in helping to build capacity for effectively and peacefully managing shared waters. By coordinating and focusing our energy and expertise, the Universities Partnership can provide a valuable resource for research, teaching, and global service in shared water dispute prevention and resolution.

The proposed workplan for the Universities Partnership for Water Cooperation and Diplomacy is available below.