Water Diplomacy: Harnessing Foreign Policy for Conflict Prevention and Regional Integration

This workshop was held as a side event within the official program of the World Water Week in Stockholm. Given water’s importance for human life and prosperity, transboundary freshwater basins are both a source of conflict risks and a chance for institutionalizing cooperative behavior. International donors often justify their support for transboundary water cooperation as a contribution to peace-building and regional integration, yet positive political spillovers from technical cooperation on water have frequently proven elusive.

Against this backdrop, our side event reflected on the prospects and challenges for global water diplomacy in an interactive session with high-ranking practitioners from the foreign and water policy communities. What legal, institutional and diplomatic methods are available for water-related conflict prevention and resolution? How have they been applied, and in what ways can they be improved? Many actors at different levels work on transboundary water management, variously focusing on legal instruments, political processes, social change, environmental issues, and the development of infrastructure.

In this context, our side event specifically looked at the role that foreign policy-makers could play in strengthening transboundary water cooperation for reaping regional cooperation dividends.

The audience was invited to discuss with the panelists how closer collaboration between the various policy communities could contribute to increasing the basket of benefits of transboundary water governance and to attenuating conflict.

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Water Diplomacy

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