In light of the upcoming water crisis in the Greater Himalayas, the ecc-platform has reported several times about the need to foster a regional perspective in the region to promote sustainable peace and stability (see, 5/2010 and 2/2011 editions). Michael Renner, senior researcher at the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute and renowned conflict resource expert, directed some attention to potential opportunities for environmental peacemaking in the region. In a recently published report on behalf of the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, Renner outlined a number of opportunities for cooperation and dialogue such as environmental monitoring and data sharing, water conservation measures, ecosystem stewardship, disaster diplomacy and the concept of peace parks.
The further development of concepts such as joint ecosystem stewardships or peace parks in the Himalayan region may yield some promising benefits for the entire region. The parks can serve as an instrument of transboundary dialogue and peacemaking between hostile or uneasy neighbours. To this end past efforts -- for example, in the disputed region of the Siachen Glacier -- can be reconsidered and filled with new political momentum. Proposals such as a joint science centre for glaciology and hydrology in Pakistan and India, with third-party participants and sponsors, can also contribute to jointly tackling the challenge of climate change and disaster prevention.
However, as Renner pointed out, the region is characterized by highly uneven national monitoring capabilities, which is one reason for preventing countries such as Afghanistan from engaging in a regional water dialogue. In addition, a number of initiatives have not been able to develop their full potential for sustainable peace and stability due to overall political relations between countries such as Pakistan and India or China and India. Accordingly, Renner concludes: “A key question is whether existing initiatives can be sustained, scaled up and broadened.” From a peacebuilding perspective this is not only a key question for the governments of the region, but also for the international community. (Dennis Taenzler)
For the study, “Water and energy dynamics in the Greater Himalayan region: opportunities for environmental peacebuilding,” by Michael Renner, please see here.
Published in: ECC-Newsletter, 5/2011