A multi-sectoral and multilateral approach to South Asia's rivers could provide sustainable development, but it needs to include those already marginalised by a narrow development path.
After close to 40 years of armed conflict, Afghanistan may be poised to begin a period of economic recovery. Electrifying remote areas and establishing pervasive political control is critical to its success. India is currently planning and funding several major hydropower projects along the Kabul River and its tributaries. Micro-hydropower is bringing electricity to remote areas such as the Banda Miralamji Village in eastern Nangarhar Province. However, in some areas far from the capital, the central government in Kabul and opposition groups are struggling for control and influence. While electrification of a village often eases poverty, health concerns, and improves communication, it does not always benefit the government in Kabul.
In many ongoing armed conflicts, water has been used as a weapon of war, but it can also be a strong instrument of peace.
In July 2018, a partially completed dam in Laos’ Attapeu province collapsed, washing away people and villages in its path. Hundreds of people were missing and more than six thousand lost their homes. And after last summer’s hurricanes, U.S. citizens in Houston and Puerto Rico escaped death but were forced to evacuate when dams were flooded. Dam failure can be catastrophic for people, property, and power – and the risks are rising.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Bank predict that water scarcity, induced by climate change, will potentially reduce GDP of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by 6 to 14% by 2050, if nothing is done to address this. In the report, the agencies highlight water and agriculture as key to conflict recovery, stabilization and peace building in the region currently experiencing armed conflicts and large refugee movements.
The experience of the Saralbhanga River, which flows from Bhutan to India, shows the power of involving local people in river management.
China’s vision of a global energy system overemphasises the benefits of connectivity. Planners and investors also have to consider the potential impacts on biodiversity and local community livelihoods from different power generation methods and find ways to prevent them.
Ignoring cross border impacts of large infrastructure projects will spark conflict along rivers, argues Peter King. National level environmental impact assessments that ignore cross border impacts are likely to create conflict between countries.
The “Environment, Conflict and Cooperation” (ECC) exhibition visualizes the dramatic and growing impact of global environmental change. It demonstrates how climate change can threaten the security of the Asian continent, and showcases how climate, environment and sustainable development cooperation can contribute to stability and peace. Dealing with themes such as water, natural resources and climate change, the exhibition shows how environmental degradation and resource scarcity can spark conflict and create new security risks.
The workshop is offered by EcoPeace’s Program for Water Security to connect EcoPeace’s experience in the Middle East with the capacity building needs of civil society organizations coping with conflict, poor governance and water insecurity worldwide. Through the Program for Water Security, EcoPeace seeks to create long-term partnerships with civil society organizations worldwide and create a global network of environmental peacebuilders.
The surge in the frequency and intensity of climate change impacts has raised the alarm about how this could hamper coastal activities. Several critical ports in the Indo-Pacific region are hubs of international trade and commerce and at the same time vulnerable to typhoons, taller waves and erosion. India’s climate diplomacy at the regional level could activate climate-resilient pathways for port development and management.
Climate change threatens conflict and poverty in the Arab region, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). In a report published last week, the agency suggested climate risks could derail development gains, such as the decrease in infant mortality and the achievement of near universal primary education.