Water Cooperation and Diplomacy

Knowing how to sustainably manage joint waters and prevent and resolve conflict is important in a world where pressure on water resources intensifies, and where competing claims at multiple levels of governance increase. This page provides an overview of the work of IHE Delft related to water cooperation and diplomacy. The Institute firmly anchors questions of peace, security and justice in a sound understanding of water and builds on 60 years of solid expertise over the full range of water disciplines.

Water Cooperation and Diplomacy

Water cooperation and diplomacy are practical fields of action and intervention dealing with how to do water governance across national borders, and simultaneously an emerging field of study and reflection on ways to understand and make sense of the processes. 

IHE Delft takes a practical and interdisciplinary approach to solving the underlying problems that trigger competition and conflict. IHE’s work is based on the understanding that relations between actors are shaped by hydraulic asymmetries and dependencies as by wider relations of collaboration and competition that are importantly shaped by history and culture. Understanding water cooperation and conflict requires an interdisciplinary approach, linking bio-physical and geo-political aspects with engineering and other relevant disciplines. 

Presenting IHE’s Approach

IHE’s practical and interdisciplinary approach to solving the underlying problems that trigger competition and conflict and that promotes cooperation connects many experts at IHE. Below you will find several videos of colleagues and partners of IHE, detailing how they contribute to further the field of water cooperation and diplomacy.

Education & Capacity Development

Education and capacity development

In this flyer, you will find an overview of our educational, research and capacity development activities focused on water conflict management and water diplomacy. The flyer contains clickable links to related pages on IHE Delft’s website.

DUPC support

Working in partnership on education and training, research and capacity development is a key approach of IHE Delft. This approach has considerably increased the Institute’s and its partners’ impact at the global and local levels, and has been strongly supported by the DGIS IHE Delft Programmatic Cooperation (DUPC). Water diplomacy is one of the strategic areas addressing and resolving water problems worldwide. 

The Netherlands is profiling itself as a key player in this area. IHE Delft, with its broad and rich in-house expertise of water diplomacy related subjects, and its partners and networks, wishes to contribute to this area. This effort is in part, supported by earmarked DUPC2 funds. The water diplomacy activities under DUPC2 are crosscutting throughout the different programme components and include education, training and research activities, and joint activities with Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The education activities undertaken relate to the Water Cooperation and Diplomacy programme offered jointly with the University for Peace in Costa Rica and Oregon State University in the US.

More information about DUPC can be found via: Water Diplomacy DUPC 2 and DUPC 2 Global Partnership Water and Development.

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Nile Water Lab

The Nile - particularly the Blue Nile shared by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia - is one of the international rivers usually described as on the verge of a “water war”, as a consequence of competing claims and concurrent project of water exploitation by the riparian countries. Open Water Diplomacy Lab aims at reversing this narrative, by boosting the role of science and communication as catalyst for cooperation and peace. 

The project, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs Global partnership for Water and Development, aims at studying the role of the media and science in transboundary waters negotiations, as well as at building journalists and researchers capacities on water science communication. Journalists and researchers from different Nile basin countries will be trained together and will be supported to co-produce original knowledge on Nile waters, in a way that facilitate mutual understanding between riparian countries and cooperation on transboundary water resources.

Find more information here.

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Water Peace and Security Initiative

The Water, Peace and Security Initiative aims to develop and test new tools and services to support policy makers and practitioners. These will include information tools, analysis, capacity building, advice and the building of networks. This support intends to enable policy makers and practitioners to timely identify, analyse and reduce the risks of water related conflict and to increase stability and resilience. This will contribute to the achievement of SDG6 (to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all), and through this also to other SDGs. 

It is a two-year pilot project (1 February 2018 – 31 December 2019) that will further research, develop and pilot these tools and services, while developing a network of institutions that can contribute to its aim. Reason for this two-year phase is that it is a very new area of work and many assumptions and ideas require further testing and development. After two years, it is expected that the learnings of the initiative can scale-up. 

Find more information here.

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Universities Partnership

The global university community, with its inherent mission of teaching, research, and service, has much to offer in addressing the challenges of preventing and resolving transboundary water disputes. Universities offer tremendous resources in helping to build capacity for effectively and peacefully managing shared waters.  By coordinating and focusing our energy and expertise, the Universities Partnership can provide a valuable resource for research, teaching, and global service in shared water dispute prevention and resolution.

IHE Delft is part of the core partners who established the Universities Partnership for Water Cooperation & Diplomacy, a consortium of academic expertise in fields related to water resources conflict prevention and resolution, including research institutions on five continents. With a global hub at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, coordinating universities include the German-Kazakh University in Kazakhstan, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, the International Water Management Institute, Oregon State University in the USA, and the University for Peace in Costa Rica. 

The activities of the Partnership focus on key socioeconomic and geopolitical issues in shared water management at local, regional, national, and international levels.  All activities are explicitly linked and integrated within four coordinated focus areas:

  1. Coordinated applied research
  2. Shared and unified data accumulation, analysis, and distribution;
  3. Training workshops for local, regional, and international basin stakeholders; and,
  4. Graduate and professional certification in shared water resources management. 
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