As part of this year’s online World Water Week at Home, adelphi and IHE Delft convened the workshop "Water diplomacy: a tool for climate action?". The workshop reflected on the role that foreign policy can play in mitigating, solving and potentially preventing conflicts over the management of transboundary water resources, especially in a changing climate.
Conflicts connected to water-security are often related to climate change issues. However, the link between water-scarcity-related risks and security challenges is not as straightforward, direct and immediate as often perceived. The online workshop ‘Mobilising decision-makers on water scarcity-induced conflict risks: The Water, Peace and Security Partnership’, organised by the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) and adelphi, looked into this complex relationship.
International political boundaries are arbitrary creations. Today’s borders are better described as imaginary lines on maps, rather than hard barriers between states. Often using mountains, rivers, or other geographical landmarks, modern borders are entrenched in historic tradition rather than logic and fact. As a result, today’s international borders are poorly equipped to handle modern challenges, in particular climate change, which has already begun to threaten the most important state resource, fresh water.
Access to water can be a critical resource for cooperation, but also a source of tension. Identifying risks before their onset is crucial for the efficiency and economic feasibility of intervention strategies, but how can these risks be measured? To address this conundrum, adelphi together with several partners convened a side-event at World Water Week, which connected experts developing analytical tools to policy makers in the water sector.
In the Inner Mongolian county of Horinger, Northwestern China, afforestation efforts have transformed a barren, dusty landscape into a pine forest. Planting trees has diminished the sandstorms, boosted biodiversity and improved the environment generally. As the climate emergency worsens, the potential for planted trees to draw carbon out of the atmosphere is being re-examined. What can the world learn from the Chinese experience with afforestation?
A problem is looming. Most water infrastructure isn’t designed to meet the demands of the increasingly volatile world that climate change is producing. Our modern landscape requires a reconceptualization of infrastructure’s demands and needs that often defies convention. And nowhere is a flexible and responsive approach more crucial than in water infrastructure, where we are experiencing unprecedented changes in flows and increasing pressures on consumption, according to Wellspring: Source Water Resilience and Climate Adaptation, a new report from the Global Resilience Partnership, the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation and The Nature Conservancy. The report explores some ways practitioners can take a new approach to source water protection that would enhance resilience and help sustain communities and ecosystems in a shifting climate.