The first annual Water and Peace seminar took place in Delft on 18th and 19th January 2018 on the theme of ‘the role of science in transboundary processes and agreements’. Selected scientists, practitioners, and students, were invited to discuss and debate the latest insights into water cooperation, conflict and diplomacy.
IHE Delft Institute for Water Education has embarked on a programme of research, education and action around the broad theme of water diplomacy and transboundary water governance guided by the question ‘How does water cooperation work?’ One of the highlights of this programme is the annual Water and Peace seminar. The series of Water and Peace seminars is intended to contribute to strengthening the international community of practice, in particular connecting the Global North and South.
The role of science in transboundary processes and agreements
Water diplomacy is simultaneously a practical field of action and intervention dealing with how to do water governance across national borders, and an emerging field of study and reflection about ways to understand and make sense of the processes. The participants of the Seminar were invited to reflect on the role of science in transboundary processes and agreements: how can science – i.e. sound data and information about present and future water availability, or new technologies for saving or re-using water – inform the design and maintenance of institutional and technological arrangements for, or diplomatic efforts geared towards, sharing waters across national boundaries now and in the future? Participants were invited to reflect on the following questions:
- What can academia contribute to transboundary water governance?
- How does science inform or not inform, transboundary water governance?
- Who is excluded and does it matter?
- How can disciplines more constructively engage for better water diplomacy?
- Who is crafting the conversations now and who should in the future?
- Are we too water-centric to solve water challenges?
The participants of the Seminar identified research questions and project ideas following group discussions on the six topics mentioned above. Outcomes of the discussions ranged from a pledge to contribute to the development of the new Universities Partnership for Water Cooperation & Diplomacy, to developing joint courses and developing research proposals to advance knowledge in, and develop tools for, water cooperation and diplomacy. Follow up and further refining of the ideas will continue over the coming months.
The next Water and Peace Seminar will be held in 2019.