Hydro-diplomacy: sharing water across borders

30 October 2012 | News story

More than 100 diplomats, political scientists, economists, and water resource professionals from over 25 countries are gathering in Chiang Rai, Thailand to discuss ways forward on 'hydro-diplomacy', particularly on how to manage river basins that cross national borders.

International river basins are home to 40% of the global population. As pressures on water resources continue to increase with the climate change, population growth and fast-developing technologies for water abstraction, water allocation conflicts may become more likely, more frequent and more intense.

Hydro-diplomacy - a critical tool to ensure that shared water resources are managed efficiently, sustainably and equitably - will be the focus of a conference ‘Hydro-diplomacy: A Tool for Sharing Water Across Borders’ which takes place 31 October.

“Hydro-diplomacy is a tool for states to balance interests related to national sovereignty while strengthening regional cooperation with countries sharing common resources. It is invaluable to ensure that shared water resources are managed efficiently, sustainably and equitably”, says Ganesh Pangare, Head of IUCN's Asia Water Programme.

"Cooperative governance between countries is necessary in formulating long-term strategies for sustainable management of international river basins and water resources,says Mark Smith, Director IUCN Global Water Programme. "There is no one-size-fits-all solution to fostering and implementing cooperative governance. Hydro-diplomacy must be tailored to the unique characteristics of its implementing parties, as well as to the nature of the river basin and the communities involved.”

"With more than 270 trans-boundary rivers and lakes worldwide, the UN has rightly recognized the importance of good water governance by dedicating 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation. Hydro-diplomacy has a tremendous role to play in this context and goes well beyond the science of water management, by involving sovereignty, political security and economic considerations”, says Alejandro Iza, Director IUCN Environmental Law Centre.

The conference is an initiative of the IUCN Global Water Programme and IUCN Asia Office, held in collaboration with and support from IUCN’s ‘Ecosystems for Life: A Bangladesh-India Initiative’, ‘Mekong Water Dialogues’ and ‘Building River Dialogue and Governance’ (BRIDGE) projects. The outcome of the conference will produce a statement or monograph on the needs and potential for hydro-diplomacy in Asia.

For more information, please contact: water@iucn.org