Water Cooperation and Diplomacy

Around the world, countries share rivers, lakes and groundwater. Decisions about how to share these waters across borders – in terms of quantity, timing, and quality - are intrinsically political in nature. Even more so as pressures on water resources such as economic growth and climate change multiply claims on water and increase competition. IHE Delft has years of experience in identifying, developing and implementing activities related to transboundary water cooperation and water diplomacy. This page provides insights into the activities and services of IHE Delft.

IHE Delft defines water diplomacy as the facilitation of cooperation between states on shared water resources and the prevention and resolution of water related conflicts among them. In this understanding, water diplomacy is mostly about the process of establishing joint water governance arrangements to realize equitable and sustainable outcomes. Successful water diplomacy has the potential to foster cooperation, also beyond the water sector, thus contributing to regional security and stability.

Services of IHE Delft to promote water cooperation

IHE Delft has years of experience in identifying, developing and implementing activities related to transboundary water cooperation and water diplomacy. They range from building capacity on institutional arrangements and legal frameworks to negotiation training or supporting joint fact finding. The overview below explains what services are on offer at IHE Delft, how long the interventions take, as well as the intended results. Delivery of activities by IHE Delft begins with a request to IHE Delft ( ), followed up by a detailed discussion with the client on the issues to be addressed and the identification of objectives and preferred activities. The content and approach of activities will be defined based on the needs of the client. Activities can be delivered on-site or at the IHE Delft premises in the Netherlands or a combination of the two. 

This flyer provides insights into what water diplomacy is and what IHE Delft can offer to those who wish to contribute to achieving water cooperation.

Meet experts, students and partners

At IHE Delft, the following people dedicate the majority of their time to water cooperation and diplomacy. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of water cooperation and conflict, colleagues from other departments, as well as partners from other organisations, are frequently involved in water cooperation and diplomacy activities. For more information about IHE Delft’s departments, please visit: https://www.un-ihe.org/academic-departments

Project highlights

DUPC2: DGIS-IHE Delft Programmatic Cooperation

With financial support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the DUPC2 fund, key-projects on Water Cooperation and Diplomacy have been developed over the past years. These projects include knowledge sharing facilitating science-policy dialogues, advancement of educational excellence, Research projects – specifically including opportunities for students from the Global South to contribute, strengthening of educational institutions in the Global South, and Basin-specific trainings and dialogues. An overview of these projects can be found on https://www.capacityforwaterdiplomacy.org/.

Open Water diplomacy Lab

Do water wars mainly happen in media reports? What is the role that media play in fuelling water conflicts, particularly when they report on controversial technical issues such as dams or climate change? This project aims to bring diplomats, journalists and water scientists from different Nile basin countries together, in order to engage in a process of common learning and co-production of knowledge, and to share and discuss the issues and controversies concerning the Nile Basin. Find more information on https://www.un-ihe.org/stories/mapping-nile-controversies-role-media-water-conflicts.

Universities Partnership

Academic institutions offer substantial resources in helping to develop capacity and understanding of issues for effectively and peacefully managing shared waters. In 2018, IHE Delft and other core partners established the Universities Partnership for Water Cooperation & Diplomacy with the aim of coordinating activities, synergising expertise and producing new knowledge in these areas. Discover more about the Partnership via its website https://upwcd.org/.

Water Peace and Security Partnership

Water insecurity is increasing worldwide. In response to these threats the Water, Peace and Security partnership develops innovative tools and services that help identify water-related security risks, and allow stakeholders to take action at an early stage. Our process depends on global data collection and validation, and on understanding how water shortage can translate into social consequences locally. Our participatory approach understands that dialogue between different parties is crucial to solving conflict, increases joint understanding of the water system, and broadens the scope of actions that can be taken. Find more information on https://waterpeacesecurity.org/.


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