IHE Delft hosted a half day workshop on Wednesday 7th March for Ambassadors and Embassy officials on the subject of water diplomacy and water cooperation. The topic is of great importance and relevance, as demonstrated by the strong participation by representatives from over 50 countries.
Following an introduction to the Institute by the Rector, Eddy Moors, an overview of key elements and issues in water diplomacy and water cooperation was presented by speakers Zaki Shubber and Aaron Wolf. The underlying theme was that research has indicated that overall countries do cooperate over shared water resources. The audience was reminded of the large number of treaties and conventions which already exist to jointly manage water, although a significant number of basins do not have a legal framework in place. Two positive examples of shared waters that were mentioned are the Rhine basin, where all parties have been working together to improve water quality and the Geneva Aquifer, which is jointly managed by Switzerland and France.
The point was also made several times that water cooperation is essential at all levels, from the local to the international, and that there is a connection between these levels in the case of transboundary water bodies.
Joyeeta Gupta discussed broader dimensions of water diplomacy and the global nature of larger issues related to water, including water crossing borders beyond what is visible. The range of water discussed extended from green water to atmospheric water and referred to virtual water. The critical impact of climate change on water issues was also highlighted in light of the very close relationship between water and climate change as well as development.
A discussion session followed, during which the panel of speakers gave their views on different current issues and possible future developments in water diplomacy as well as on the importance of resolving water issues for the continued stability of the world.