As New Delhi and Islamabad trade nuclear threats and deadly attacks, a brewing war over shared water resources threatens to turn up the violence.
Even though nearly a decade has passed since the Cauvery (Kaveri) Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) gave a final verdict on the sharing of the waters of the River Cauvery, the two main conflicting parties – the Karnataka and the Tamil Nadu – are still in dispute. The recent verdict by the Supreme Court (India’s apex court), directing Karnataka to release more water than the amount it informed the court it could, generated a fresh bout of protest, arson and violence in Karnataka. This occurred mainly in Bengaluru (erstwhile Bangalore), Mysore and Mandya. The dispute between the two states, which has lasted more than 150 years, refuses to cease.
Fresh water is an indispensable resource for human life and ecosystem health. A considerable amount of fresh water resources accessible for human use are shared between two or more countries. Around the world, there are 286 transboundary river basins, and 148 countries include territory within one or more of these basins. Contrary to expectations, internationally shared water resources have long acted as a source of cooperation rather than conflict between riparian states.
The exhibition “Environment, Conflict and Cooperation” (ECC) will be shown in Beijing starting from 18 September 2016.
On 9 August 2016, India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Anil Madhav Dave, informed the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian Parliament) that, according to an Oxford University study, approximately 136,000 climate change-related deaths are projected in India. This is primarily due to decreased food production. He went on to quote figures from a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, published in 2014, which pins the principle causes of death between 2030 and 2050 on malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.
A paper published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tests the hypothesis that climate related natural disasters may be part of the cause of conflict in countries with high ethnic fractionalization.
With the failure of July 14-15 talks held between India and Pakistan to settle concerns raised by the latter over the former’s dam projects (Kishenganga and Ratle) over the Western rivers (Jhelum’s tributary and Chenab respectively) of the Indus Basin (allocated to the latter under the Indus Waters Treaty), Pakistan has now decided to take the matter to the International Court of Arbitration (ICA), based in the Hague. While the political and legal battles over the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) continue to create headlines in the region, and across the world, there is another time bomb ticking beneath the surface.
The eye catching headlines are familiar. “Water Wars” are imminent or already underway in the latest drought or dam-building hotspot. Such “wars” often extend to farmers battling over irrigation diversions, but at times countries are the players. Senior leaders are often quoted suggesting transboundary water theft constitutes a casus belli. Security officials are obliged to investigate.
India is all set to embark on exploration and other developmental activities pertaining to polymetallic sulphides in the Indian Ocean after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi approved the signing of a contract between the Minister of Earth Sciences and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), that formalises India’s exclusive rights for exploration in the Central Indian Ridge, and South West Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean for 15 years. India is not the only country that is actively tapping into the resources of the region, or is attempting to do so. China, South Korea and Germany have also been granted permission to prospect for polymetallic nodules and sulphides, increasing the potential for competition in the region.
The China-funded dam highlights lack of green safeguards along the New Silk Road, writes Eugene Simonov.
Over the past decade, the number of undernourished people around the world has declined by around 167 million, to just under 800 million people. However, this positive trend glosses over a stark reality: Food insecurity is increasing in the world’s mountains. This pattern has been under-recognized by development experts and governments, a dangerous oversight with far-reaching social and environmental repercussions.