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Water diplomacy is about improving citizens' lives
Access to the world’s shared water resources is inextricably linked to socio-political and economic ‘power dynamics’ that impact hugely on people’s lives and livelihoods. This was one of the key messages of Friends of Europe’s 25 March Policy Insight debate “The ripple effect: water as a tool for peace and sustainable development”.
But while water competition between regions or states can generate friction and conflict, water diplomacy can also be used to help broker peace and cooperation and, crucially, should aim to make a tangible difference to ordinary citizens.
As we prepare for the “changing of the guard” in the EU “we have a topic that’s so essential for world peace that we should keep it high up on the agenda,” said Shada Islam, Friends of Europe’s Director for Europe & Geopolitics.
Naho Mirumachi, lead of King’s Water research hub and Senior Lecturer at King’s College London, said it was vital to remember that conflict wasn’t necessarily driven by a lack of water resources. Cautioning practitioners against “the binary trap of thinking of water as a tool for peace or a tool for war”, she suggested that they consider the “socioeconomic power dynamics that make it easy for some people to access water and others to have to bear the burden.”
“I would ask ‘who is the peace for?’ I think that’s the real question,” she said.
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- Event summary
- Event page
- “Water cooperation can bring peace to conflict zones” by Neena Gill and Sundeep Waslekar
- “Day Zero is not just South Africa’s problem” by Hiroyuki Hino
- “Syria shows it’s time to take climate migration more seriously” by Esther Bijl
PHOTO CREDIT: lensnmatter/Flickr