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Water, violence, conflict and cooperation Dr. Ken Conca

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1 Water, violence, conflict and cooperation Dr. Ken Conca

2 Topics: The worlds water picture and global water challenges Water as a source of violent conflict (pathways and probabilities) Water cooperation initiatives

3 Water is… …unsubstitutable in its most important uses; …unevenly distributed; …difficult to capture; …movable, but often only at great social, economic, or ecological cost; …highly variable over time in its availability.

4 I. The worlds water challenges Addressing unmet human water needs Allocating water across competing sectoral needs: agricultural, industrial, municipal Managing and reversing the impact on critical freshwater ecosystems

5 Challenge: Unmet needs and water-related human insecurity An estimated 1.3 billion people currently lack reliable access to safe drinking water An estimated 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation Struggle to keep pace with population growth in recent decades, much less make a dent in these figures Projection: Half the worlds people will live in conditions of water insecurity by 2035

6 Per-capita domestic water use Per-capita consumption: Number of countries: Aggregate population: Largest countries: < 25 lpcd39738 millionNigeria, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, DR Congo < 50 lpcd (WHO standard) billionIndia, Indonesia < 100 lpcd813.8 billionChina, Pakistan Source: Gleick, The Worlds Water

7 Millennium Development Goals By 2015, cut in half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

8 Millennium water goals: mixed progress Region:Drinking water:Sanitation: Arab Statesn.a. Central/Eastern Europe Achievedn.a. East Asia/PacificLagging Latin America & Caribbean On trackLagging South AsiaOn trackLagging Sub-Saharan Africa LaggingReversal Source: Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2005

9 Challenge: Addressing water demands of competing sectoral uses Growing inter-sectoral competition (agriculture vs. emerging industrial, municipal uses) Strong growth projections across all sectors--but ineffective mechanisms for allocating water across sectors Controversies over water pricing and private- sector participation

10 Challenge: Addressing environmental impacts and in-stream uses importance of freshwater ecosystem services cumulative toll of damming, diverting, draining, dumping, developing 1/3 of worlds fish species endangered (vast majority are freshwater fish) 800k dams on worlds rivers, 500k altered for navigation

11 State of the worlds freshwater ecosystems Food production Water quality Water quantity Biodiversity Condition:Capacity: GoodMixed PoorDecreasing FairDecreasing BadDecreasing Source: World Resources Institute, Pilot Assessment of Global Ecosystems

12 The wars of the next century will be over water. (Ismail Serageldin, World Bank) The next Middle East war will be over dwindling water supplies. (Moammar Gaddafi) Conditions are ripe for a century of water conflicts. (The Economist ) II. Water as a source of violent conflict

13 What is the historical record? What likelihood of future conflict, given changing conditions? At what levels of social aggregationlocalized, interstate, …? By what specific pathways? Water and conflict: Some key questions

14 Gleicks typology of historical water conflicts: Control of Water Resources: water supplies or access are at the root of tensions. Military Target: where water resources/systems are targets of military actions by nations or states. Military Tool: water resources/systems used as a weapon during a military action. Political Tool: water resources/systems themselves used for a political goal. Terrorism: water resources/systems are targets or tools of violence or coercion by non-state actors. Development Disputes: water resources/systems are a major source of contention/dispute in context of economic development.

15 Pacific Institute Water and Conflict Chronology

16 Interstate conflict in shared river basins Violence triggered along pre-existing social cleavages (ethnicity, identity group, social class, region) Developmental states in conflict with affected domestic communities Coercive environmental protection or water-related restrictions Potential pathways to water-related violent conflict

17 Problem: Growing water stress in the worlds river basins 2.3 billion people live in river basins under water stress (<1700 cu. meters/yr per capita) 1.7 billion people live in river basins under high water stress (<1000 cu. meters/yr per capita) Source: World Resources Institute, World Resources

18 263 internationally shared river basins fewer than 20% have a cooperative international agreement in effect only a handful have accords involving all basin states 1997 U.N. Convention on Shared Watercourses- -not in force Problem: Thinly institutionalized cooperation on shared basins

19 Oregon State University Basins at Risk project (Wolf et al) 50-year database of scaled cooperative and conflictual events Tested wide array of social, economic, political variables for causal link to conflictual/cooperative events Used results to identify basins at risk

20 Findings: Cooperative events outnumber conflictual by more than 2 to 1 Few extreme events Major issues: water quantity and water infrastructure Variables that dont explain much: income level, regime type, water stress (!)

21 Findings (contd): Key is rate of changewhen rate of change within basin exceeds capacity of institutions to adaptspecifically: internationalized basins unilateral development in the absence of international cooperative agreement

22 Findings (contd) From this, extrapolate 17 basins at risk Ganges- Brahmaputra La PlataOrange HanLempaSalween IncomatiLimpopoSenegal KuneneMekongTumen Kura-AraksOb (Ertis)Zambezi Lake ChadOkavango Source: Wolf et al, International Waters: Identifying Basins at Risk, Water Policy 5 Number 1 (2003) 29-60

23 Pathways to violent conflict: Interstate conflict in shared river basins Violence triggered along pre-existing social cleavages (ethnicity, identity group, social class, region) Developmental states in conflict with affected domestic communities Coercive environmental protection or water-related restrictions

24 The Homer-Dixon thesis: Scarcity-induced violent conflict as a result of environmental change Tendency of conflict to play out along pre- existing social cleavages Yes, but…: Subsequent statistical studies show weak association, low-grade violence, importance of intervening variables

25 Pathways to violent conflict: Interstate conflict in shared river basins Violence triggered along pre-existing social cleavages (ethnicity, identity group, social class, region) Developmental states in conflict with affected domestic communities Coercive environmental protection or water-related restrictions

26 Critical ecosystem Anchor of local livelihoods and culture Scarce commodity with market value

27 A river plays a very big role in our culture. It has a lot to do. If somebody passes away or maybe was killed by the lightning, usually he would be buried next to the river. It is a place where our traditional doctors go to get qualified. Some people say they talk with their ancestors right in the river. If a girl is about to start her first period, a traditional way to guide her is to take her to the river. Apart from that, if someone in the family dreams about a river, it will mean that someone in the family is pregnant; and if I am a mother, I should know that something is wrong with one of my daughters. --Mathato Khitsane, Highlands Church Action Group, Lesotho

28 Nehru: Dams are the temples of modern India. Stalin: Water which is allowed to enter the sea is wasted. World Commission on Dams estimates that million people have been displaced to make way for large dams and water projects

29 Trends in state-society water development conflicts Transnationalization of opposition Increasing success of dam opponents (in context of greater private-sector role) World Commission on Dams as a forum for dialogue, conflict resolution Endurance of site-specific violence when movements choose confrontation and states choose repression

30 Pathways to violent conflict: Interstate conflict in shared river basins Violence triggered along pre-existing social cleavages (ethnicity, identity group, social class, region) Developmental states in conflict with affected domestic communities Coercive environmental protection or water-related restrictions

31 The squatters live…next to a polluted river and the local authority fear that it could be a source of cholera. (BBC )

32 International river-basin cooperation Stakeholder dialogues around infrastructure and privatization controversies Domestic water policy reforms III. Water Cooperation Initiatives

33 Principles for shared river basins (1997 U.N. Convention) All basin states participate Equitable and reasonable use Obligation to avoid significant harm Regular exchange of information Prior notification Peaceful dispute resolution

34 Water cooperation initiatives International river-basin cooperation Stakeholder dialogues around infrastructure and privatization controversies Domestic water policy reforms

35 World Commission on Dams UN Environment Programme Dams and Development Project

36 Water cooperation initiatives International river-basin cooperation Stakeholder dialogues around infrastructure and privatization controversies Domestic water policy reforms

37 Brazil: basin-level committees, mixed- membership bodies geared toward conflict resolution South Africa: human and environmental reserves, pricing reforms/minimum free allocation Examples of innovative domestic water-policy reforms

38 Global 2000: Major Conclusions Regional water shortages will become more severe. In the period population growth alone will cause requirements for water to double in nearly half the world. Still greater increases would be needed to improve standards of living. In many [less-developed countries], water supplies will become increasingly erratic by 2000 as a result of extensive deforestation. Development of new water supplies will become more costly virtually everywhere.

39 Projected Global Water Withdrawals in Year 2000 (cu. km), by year of forecast Source: Adapted from Gleick, The Worlds Water

40 Scenarios for global water use in 2025 scenario: Raskin reference Seckler BAU Gleick vision WWC vision Raskin reform Seckler efficiency projected withdrawal (cu. km/yr):

41 Critical variables shaping water futures: -Population growth -Economic growth -Technological innovation ** Water finance trends & pricing policies ** Management of social controversies ** International river diplomacy


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