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The Water Diplomat - 6 Nov 2019

About "The Water Diplomat"

The Water Diplomat media platform builds upon the work of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace that produced in 2017 the milestone report “A Matter of Survival” which outlines forward-looking recommendations to promote water as a driver for peace. Each edition of the Water Diplomat provides news and intelligence pertaining to the themes of the Panel’s report, contributing to global awareness of hydropolitical challenges worldwide.

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"The Water Diplomat" is a free monthly news and intelligence resource produced by OOSKAnews and Geneva Water Hub. The publication, launched at World Water Week 2019 and distributed monthly by email, is part of a media platform developed to engage our world in understanding the intersects among water, peace, conflict and diplomacy.

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OOSKAnews Reports

The Water Diplomat Reports

Water Diplomacy Talks

Nobel Peace Prize For A West Africa River Basin Organisation...It Is Time!

GENEVA, Switzerland

In this Water Diplomat / OOSKAnews Voices Q and A, we talk to Johan Gely, Head of Global Program, Water, for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). presents the case for a Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to a River Basin Organisation.

Gely has dedicated his career overseas (advising multi-stakeholder platforms, governments, civil society organisations and the private sector in transitional economies, fragile states and emerging market economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America), and in Switzerland (Federal Department of Economic Affairs and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) to support a common goal: positioning water prominently in the governments and the global debate to contribute to a water-secure world for All.

The Water Diplomat / OOSKAnews:

We have noticed a fascinating call from you on a social network for nomination of a water organisation – an International River Basin Organisation – for the Nobel peace prize. For those less familiar with the nature and function of River Basin Organisations, can you take a moment to describe what they do, and what is the link with peace?

Johan Gely:

The quest for universal and sustainable access to water made the modern world. This is not recognised. Let us recall John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s quote on water: “Anybody who can solve the problems of water will be worthy of two Nobel Prizes, one for peace and one for science.” And, when listening to Alfred Nobel, the Peace Nobel Prize should go to a person (and / or organisation) who accomplished "the most or the best work for fraternity among nations…those who shall have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind...”

  • Imagine a group of countries, low incomes, living in extreme water scarcity conditions, that have decided, in the 1970s, in the middle of one of the worst droughts of humankind, to delegate their sovereignty over water management to independent transboundary organisations.
  • Imagine the same countries, since then, working together, to harness and manage negotiated collaborative solutions (such as agreed sustainable investment plans), that are trans-borders, trans-sectors and trans-generational by nature; gearing towards environmentally circular and socially inclusive economies using the nexus of water and peace as an entry point.
  • Imagine, when dramatic tensions occur in the region among countries, that an organisation remains a reference to sustain dialog among the said countries – and, therefore, as such, acts as enduring and resilient soft infrastructure of dialogue for peace and sustainability.
  • Imagine member countries forgoing a great share of their future revenues from a hydropower dam, hence waiving part of their own economic sovereignty(!) to the benefit of a less economically endowed neighbor country.
  • Imagine organisations that have an ideal for their region, an ideal where peace, economic growth, social inclusion and environment play a key role.

These organisations are not imaginary or fantasy… these organisations exist... they never make the headlines…their names appear nowhere… but they are real! Their names? The Senegal River Basin Development Organisation, the Gambian River Basin Development Organisation, with its six full member countries: Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal.

These two successful organisations offer something new, innovative, challenging and yet politically realistic to change their region and the world. This is not yet recognized. They have surmounted crises and tensions and always remained, over the past 5 decades, undisputedly, organisations where discussions, exchanges and dialogs sustained for the benefit of all. Transforming themselves in a sort of unbreakable fabrics binding all together by the habit of common work for common ends… a powerful force made for social transformation…This is not yet recognized!

It Is Time!

If you think of it, it is a miracle…It is time to recognize the “water peace dividend” granted by these organisations.

It is time for the Nobel Committee and the world to understand that these two river organisations have an “agenda for people, planet, prosperity and peace” underpinned by a compelling political narrative and intelligent actions around the goal of building cohesive societies with norms and standards built on notions of solidarity, trust and shared responsibilities.

It is time to recognize their five decades of extraordinary contribution to the advancement of peace, cooperation and solidarity between peoples.

It is time to recognize it, on behalf of all men and women who love peace, goodwill and brotherhood.

The Water Diplomat / OOSKAnews:

Such a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize would certainly raise the profile of “Blue Peace”, and its importance in global discourse and our planet’s future. Do you think this is realistically likely to happen? Where will support come from?

Johan Gely:

The response is yes, of course. The competition is and will be intense, long, and will require tenacity and determination. The narrative and support will be global.

Realistic? Some ideas have faded away into obscurity because they failed to reach the right people. We need to find champions. The champions are the six head of states of these two organisations; staffs and partners from these Basins Organisations; the media; the populations from the two watersheds, the continent of Africa, and all convinced by the idea.

With their help, we shall capture the attention and imagination of the Peace Nobel Prize Committee, the Norwegian Nobel Committee (responsible for selecting the Nobel Prize Laureates).

The Water Diplomat / OOSKAnews:

What are the hypothetical next steps in promoting such a nomination?

Johan Gely:

The nomination will be submitted by any persons who are qualified to nominate (https://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/peace/). Therefore, members of national assemblies and national governors (cabinet members/ministers) of the said countries (with the support of all interest countries) as well as current heads of states, university professors, university professors, professors emeriti and associate professors of history, social sciences, law, philosophy, theology, and religion; university rectors and university directors (or their equivalents); directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes ect…are all well qualified to support this process.

The Nobel Committee receive nominations by 31st January of each year. October is when Nobel laureates are chosen. December is the time to receive their prize.

The Water Diplomat / OOSKAnews:

Thank you, Johan Gely, we and our readers will continue to follow this initiative with interest!


Water Diplomacy Talks -- Monika Weber-Fahr, Global Water Partnership


Weber-Fahr and Duncan discuss the summit's theme "Preventing Water Crises" and GWP's recently launched strategy position paper "Mobilising for a Water Secure World", particularly water solutions relating to achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6; climate change resistant development; transboundary water cooperation.

GWP is a large, diverse, inclusive, multi-stakeholder partnership that supports communities and countries to improve the way they manage water. The organisation, with HQ in Stockholm, Sweden brings water users together to solve water problems. The partnership is a global action network with a chief focus to support social change processes that further the sustainable management and development of water resources. To do this, the network invites like-minded organisations to join its global movement. GWP partners with more than 3,000 organisations that share its aims and values in tackling the sustainable development, management, and use of water resources. A GWP Partner is defined as: “Any entity, except individuals, may become a Partner of the Network. Partners of the Network may include States, national, regional and local Government Institutions, Intergovernmental Organisations, international and national Non-governmental Organisations, Academic Institutions and Research Institutions, Companies, and service providers in the public sector.”


A powerpoint presentation of "Strategy: Mobilising for a Water Secure World" can be downloaded here.

Water In Armed Conflicts And Other Situations Of Violence

Water Infrastructure Attacked In Turkey Invasion Of Syria


UNICEF reports that water supply to Al-Hasakeh, Syria, partially restarted 21 October after repairs to the electric power supply at the Allouk (Alok) water pumping station. The facility had been out of operation since airstrikes by Turkish military two weeks previously when Turkey launched a military incursion against Kurdish people in the north of the country.

The offensive followed the United States’ troops withdrawal from the region earlier this month which effectively opened the door for Turkey’s offensive.

Allouk water station – which normally provides water to 400,000 people, is currently functioning at 50 per cent of its normal capacity. Only half (15 out of 30) of the boreholes that supply the station are operational. The other half are in areas where there is ongoing violence. Electricity needs to be restored to the boreholes in order for them to function.

Water provision to Al-Hasakeh city is estimated at around 70-80 per cent compared to levels before the escalation of violence. One-third of the city’s water supply still comes from an alternative water source – the Al Himme water pumping station – but this supply cannot be sustained for more than a month unless Allouk becomes fully operational again, or there is a lot of rain. Repair teams will need continued access to Allouk in order to bring it back to maximum capacity.

Nearly two weeks after the start of the hostilities, over 176,000 people have been displaced, including nearly 80,000 children, and critical civilian infrastructure has been damaged. Apart from the Allouk water station, power lines have been damaged and at least four medical facilities are reported to be affected.

Campaigning group “Save the Tigris” has issued a statement calling upon Turkey:

  • To immediately halt the invasion of northeast Syria;
  • Not to use water and water infrastructure as weapons of war and to refrain from targeting water installations or waterways;
  • To guarantee safe access to water as a fundamental human right which should be guaranteed for the population of northeast Syria;
  • To adhere to the UNEA-3 resolution ‘Pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict or terrorism’ of the United Nations Environment Assembly.
  • We call upon the international community:
  • To use all diplomatic means to pressure Turkey to halt its invasion of North East Syria;
  • To monitor the conditions of northeast Syria’s rivers and water infrastructure in order to document any damages or war crimes;
  • To hold accountable any party which inflicts humanitarian crises due to the targeting of waterways and water infrastructure through the UNEA-3 resolution ‘Pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict or terrorism’ of the United Nations Environment Assembly.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) drew attention last week to the increased the risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases. Even before the current escalation in conflict, acute diarrhoea and typhoid were two of the most reported diseases among people in northeast Syria in August 2019. Ongoing displacements, overcrowded living conditions, and limited access to safe water and sanitation services, will likely lead to an increase in the number of people affected by water-borne diseases.


Yemen Conflict: Fuel Price Escalation Exacerbates Deadly Water Crisis

Washington DC, United States

International aid organisation Oxfam has cut trucked water to thousands of Yemenis because of the increase in fuel prices in the conflict-torn country. Piped water systems installed by Oxfam, which supply a quarter of a million people, are running at around 50 per cent capacity, the agency said 22 October.

Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA), addressed the Security Council of the United Nations 17 October about the humanitarian situation in Yemen, including severe water challenges in the strife-torn country, describing Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the largest relief operation with more than 250 humanitarian agencies working through the UN response plan.

Further Reading: OOSKAnews reportage on Yemen and Water (350 articles):

11 million people rely on water supplied by piped networks in the country and four million people who depend on water trucked in by private companies have had to drastically reduce their daily consumption since fuel prices soared in September. In three major cities, Ibb, Dhamar and Al Mahwit, home to around 400,000 people, central water systems have been forced to shut down completely.

Water networks, power plants, airports, bridges, roads, schools and health facilities have all been destroyed by fighting between the Saudi-led Arab coalition backed by the US and UK, and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since March 2015.

In the past year, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has focused on five key areas in Yemen: the protection of civilians; humanitarian access; funding for the aid operation; support for the economy; and a political solution.

With respect to the protection of civilians, a number of air strikes in September killed an average of 13 people each day and a UN-supported water system that serves 12,000 people. Lowcock emphasized that this was the fourth time the facility has been hit since 2016.

Lowcock commented that humanitarian access is challenging given the harassment, interference and restrictions imposed by the authorities. Specifically, he mentioned that local authorities blocked humanitarian assessments in Hajjah and Hudaydah, where the authorities revealed that 12,000 families had been affected by floods.

Lowcock emphasized that Government regulations of commercial fuel imports have contributed to severe fuel shortages in many areas. Fuel is essential to transport food to markets, pump drinking water and power sanitation systems. Nearly three-quarters of hospitals rely on fuel to provide care, and aid organizations need fuel for their work.

As severe shortages have gripped many areas recently, fuel prices doubled or even tripled, pushing the cost of food and drinking water (which many people already could not afford) even higher.

Without fuel, municipal water systems in three cities stopped working altogether, and others cut back services. Sanitation plants reduced operations. Large quantities of human, animal and commercial waste have accumulated in streets, exacerbating risk of cholera and other diseases.

More than seven million people already weakened by malnourishment in Yemen, as water borne diseases are rife. The country has experienced one of the worst cholera outbreaks in recent history. Since April 2017, there have been over two million suspected cases of cholera and over 3700 deaths.

The current fuel crisis is the latest example of the warring parties using the economy as a weapon of war. Fuel supplies have been an ongoing problem in Yemen but have escalated recently following extra restrictions on imports announced by the internationally recognized government, with Houthi authorities also placing restrictions on imports.

Ships carrying fuel have stopped docking, and prices have shot up due to lack of supply. In Sana’a a liter of petrol is now almost three times the price it was in August, Oxfam reports.

Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director said: “This fuel crisis is affecting every area of people’s lives but none more crucial than the lack of clean water. For millions of Yemenis already struggling to survive hunger and disease, clean water is a lifeline that is now being cut”.


Urgent Need For Sanitation Provision For Displaced Somalis

Geneva, Switzerland

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has described an urgent need for sanitation provision and shelter for displaced people in Somalia which has been a conflict zone for almost three decades and has recently faced severe drought conditions.

IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.

2.6 million Somalis remain displaced within the country due to insecurity, drought and floods. Aid agencies, in collaboration with Somalia, launched a Drought Impact Response Plan in June following the declaration of a severe drought in the Horn of Africa, but regions including Baidoa, the capital of Bay region of Somalia remain under severe humanitarian stress.

"We have new arrivals here coming every day, every week. The biggest gap for the new arrivals is food, water and shelter - that is the main challenge," Ali Ahmed, an IOM field officer in Baidoa said in a 23 October IOM statement.

Of 15 million people living in Somalia, the agency estimates 5.4 million to be food insecure with 2.2 million of these in severe acute food insecurity conditions.

"The needs are immense, and IOM is working together with the government, communities, and international partners to provide the much-needed support, ensuring their basic needs are met," said Dyane Epstein, IOM's Chief of Mission.

Baidoa hosts one of the largest Internally Displaced (IDP) populations in Somalia with 359,994 internally displaced persons, consisting of 51,322 households on 435 sites.

The Horn of Africa is now experiencing the lowest cumulative rainfall totals since 1981. As a consequence nearly 13 million people, including 6.5 million children, are facing critical levels of hunger, Although the number of food insecure people is lower than in 2017, the situation is expected to deteriorate with anticipated continuation of the drought.

International NGO Save the Children, reported 14 October that communities are struggling to replenish water supplies, regenerate pastures and restore livestock herds, resulting in displacement.

In the first five months of 2019, an estimated 59,000 people were displaced in Somalia due to the drought conditions. In June, an estimated 1.8 million in the Horn of Africa were displaced due to drought.

There is rising incidence of malnutrition, with a disproportionate number of children affected. Severely wasted children under the age of five are 11 times more likely to die than those at a healthy weight. This population is also vulnerable to more infection and more difficult recovery.

That report specifically cites:

  • Kenya: an estimated 2.6 million people face acute food insecurity and are in need of humanitarian assistance. Another 6.8 million are one step away from reaching crisis levels of food insecurity.
  • Somalia: 2.1 million people face critical food shortages and require humanitarian support; an additional 4.2 million people are on the verge of critical shortages. More than one million children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition.
  • Ethiopia: 8.1 million people are in need of food assistance

Save the Children has called on the international community to assist in diverting mass displacement and loss of life.


Remarkable US Army Climate Change Report Studies Conflict Risk, What Caused Syria War, Bangladesh Risk, Geo-engineering!

Washington DC, United States

A combination of global starvation, war, drought and disease could have devastating effects on world security according to a report from several United States agencies including the US Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA, under the rubric of the United States Army War College.

The study, “Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army” addresses national and international security challenges associated with or worsened by climate change, and organizational challenges for the US military.

Sea level rise, changes in water and food security, and more frequent extreme weather events are likely to result in the migration of large segments of the population, the authors say in a report that was not widely reported when initially made public earlier this year. 

Human migration and refugee relocation due to chronic drought, flooding, episodes of extreme, unusual weather or other natural events are identified as creating an environment ripe for conflict and large-scale humanitarian crises.

“Rising seas will displace tens (if not hundreds) of millions of people, creating massive, enduring instability. This migration will be most pronounced in those regions where climate vulnerability is exacerbated by weak institutions and governance and underdeveloped civil society. Recent history has shown that mass human migrations can result in increased propensity for conflict and turmoil as new populations intermingle with and compete against established populations. More frequent extreme weather events will also increase demand for military humanitarian assistance”.

Salt water intrusion into coastal areas and changing weather patterns will also compromise or eliminate fresh water supplies in many parts of the world.

The study calls on the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that domestic power, water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of climate change as we near mid-century, comparing US preparation for climate change inevitabilities unfavorably to that of China.

The study itself did not conduct specific research on the climate or climate change but assumed through the preponderance of evidence available that climate change is occurring, despite Trump administration skepticism around climate change.

The report depicts a global food system increasingly disrupted by “rapid freeze-thaw cycles in spring and fall, soil degradation, depletion of fossil water aquifers, intensified spread of agricultural pests and diseases, and damage to shipping infrastructure as a consequence of flooding.”

On the Syria Civil War

“The Syrian civil war has been an international disaster with humanitarian and security impacts in the Middle East, Africa and Europe that will continue long into the future. Pre-war Syria had a population of about 22 million…Almost five million Syrians have fled the country since the start of the civil war…A host of factors contributed to the outbreak of civil war with causality still a matter of debate. There is, however, no question that the conflict erupted coincident with a major drought in the region which forced rural people into Syrian cities as large numbers of Iraqi refugees arrived…The Syrian civil war has reignited civil war in Iraq, and brought the U.S. and Russian militaries into close contact under difficult circumstances. The Syrian population has declined by about ten percent since the start of the war, with millions of refugees fleeing the nation, increasing instability in Europe, and stoking violent extremism”.

On Bangladesh

“By comparison, Bangladesh has eight times Syria’s population, and a conflicted history as a former part of Pakistan. Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim nation locked between India and Burma. The latter is already under international scrutiny for its poor treatment of the Rohingya minority, the largest percentage of which have fled to Bangladesh. India is a nuclear-armed state perpetually on the verge of conflict with its nuclear-armed western neighbor, Pakistan. Indeed, Bangladesh’s existence is the result of a war between those two nations. The permanent displacement of a large portion of the population of Bangladesh would be a regional catastro- phe with the potential to increase global instability. This is a potential result of climate change complications in just one country…Globally, over 600 million people live at sea level”.

Viablility of US military interventions

The study’s authors identify that foreign military interventions, particularly in water scarce regions of the Middle East and North Africa, might not be viable unless the US Army invents or acquires radical new technologies to distribute adequate levels of water to soldiers.

The study describes “No systemic understanding of the wide diversity of climate-change related intelligence”, but a “wide variety of stake- holders who are monitoring climate change-related effects…These include public health organizations such and the W.H.O. and the Centers for Disease Control, energy producers and regulators such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, weather observers such as NASA and the NOAA, humanitarian organizations like the World Food Program, national security entities like the U.S. military, and numerous private and public organizations like universities, NGOs, and so on”.

Climate change is at the center of a complex web of interactions, the study reports: “During this study, we were struck by how much many people knew about parts of the phenomena, but we were also surprised by the lack of a holistic view of the problem, and a sense of how some areas would relate to each other. Climate change is a common cause linking a disparate set of challenges, but we currently have no systemic view to assess and manage risk”.

China gets it?

“In contrast, in China, systems science and engineering is considered so important to the future of China that this is a course of study required for all cadres in the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Party School in Beijing”.

On Geo-engineering (Whoa, what?)

The study discusses the ability to manipulate the natural environment as an instrument of national power: “Commonly referred to as Geoengineering, it is defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as “a broad set of methods and technologies that aim to deliberately alter the climate system to alleviate impacts of climate change.”… However, many of the geoengineering experiments currently underway to combat climate change possess the dual-use potential for weaponization of the natural environment”.

“The study recommends any plans using geoengineering in climate change mitigation would benefit from a guiding framework of rules and regulations. It further endorses the establishment of a centralizing U.S. federal weather modification governing body to provide proper stewardship of the environment during any experimental development or actual implementation…Anything less could lead to a broad range of potential environmental, technical, political, and ethical issues”.

“These very concerns culminated in the United Nations General Assembly holding the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or any Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD) of 1976. The EN- MOD Convention was the tool used to capture the spirit of international disarmament law explicitly envisioned to keep the manipulation of the environment out of the armed conflict arsenal. An additional protocol added a further ban on the use of methods and means of war- fare that purposefully and excessively damage the environment. The overall language bans the hostile use of the natural environment to wage war and went into force as of October, 1978. The United States, along with 77 other nations, have ratified the treaty and agreed to live by its restrictions. A decision to weaponize weather in the future would carry with it an almost certain international condemnation for any nation willing to undertake the effort. If someone could prove who did it”.

International Water Law And Transboundary Cooperation

US Hosts Tripartite GERD Negotiations; Ministers Declare Commitment To Cooperate

WASHINGTON DC, United States

The Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan reaffirmed 6 November a commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of the controverial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Further OOSKAnews coverage of GERD (40 articles)

The countries' representatives committed in Washington DC to establishing a clear process for fulfilling the commitments of a 2015 Declaration of Principles and agreed to hold four technical water minister level meetings. Representaivies of the World Bank and the United States government will support and attend the meetings as observers. 

The foreign ministers noted their agreement to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers.  The ministers agreed that the World Bank and the United States would support and attend the meetings as observers.  The ministers also agreed to work toward completion of an agreement by January 15, 2020, and would attend two meetings in Washington, D.C. on December 9, 2019 and January 13, 2020, to assess and support progress.  If an agreement is not reached by January 15, 2020, the foreign ministers agree that Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked.

The foreign ministers reaffirmed the significance of the Nile to the development of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, the importance of transboundary cooperation, and their shared interest in concluding an agreement.

Egypt has insisted that Ethiopia should fill the dam reservoir over a period of seven years and release 40 billion cubic meters of water every year. However, Ethiopia wants to fill the dam in 3 years and earlier this year rejected Egypt’s proposal, claiming that it does not “respect current and future rights and development plans of Ethiopia over the Nile and complicates the filling of the dam”.

After the ministers met with the US Treasury Secretary and the President of the World Bank, US President Donald Trump tweeted an Oval Office photo with the delegations, noting: "Just had a meeting with top representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to help solve their long running dispute on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, one of the largest in the world, currently being built. The meeting went well and discussions will continue during the day!"

A subsequent Egypt government press release quoted the country's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry saying that the talks  yielded positive results that would help fix the path of future negotiations and outline a clear and precise timeframe for them.

He also said that a decision was reached on holding four urgent trilateral meetings at the level of the water resources ministers and with the participation of representatives from the US and the World Bank to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam’s reservoir within a period of two months and by 15 January 2020. During the course of that period, he pointed out, two meetings will be held in Washington at the invitation of US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin to assess the progress of negotiations.

Shoukry expressed Egypt President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s deep appreciation of US President Donald Trump’s decision to sponsor the three-way talks and his reception of the three parties’ ministers, praising the constructive and pivotal role Trump and his country have undertaken regarding this matter. He noted that the US stance reflects the depth of strategic Egyptian-American relations and voiced his belief that Washington’s mediation efforts will help in reaching an agreement that would contribute to realizing stability and development in the East Africa region.


South Korea Raises Fukushima Water Release Concerns To London Convention

TOKYO, Japan

The fishing industry of South Korea has& brought its concerns over the release of the contaminated water at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea to the London Convention and Protocol meeting. The London Convention, to which 87 States are Parties, monitors pollution of the seas and oceans and covers the deliberate disposal of wastes and other matter into the world's waters. South Korea has said that the release of the Fukushima water into the ocean would have a direct influence on the marine life and ecosystem in its territorial waters and eventually the people in Korea.

"We emphasized that Japan should take a different approach on handling the water compared to other normal situations considering the gravity of the Fukushima disaster," an official from the fishing ministry said 14 October, claiming the water should not be released to the ocean without discussions. (The Korea Herald)

Japan contends that raising the issue was not appropriate as no final decision as to the disposition of the water has been made.

As of 22 August, approximately 1.1 million tons of contaminated water was being stored in 977 tanks at the decommissioned power plant in Fukushima, which was destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami. More storage facilities will be built but only through 2020, bringing the total stored volume to 1.37 million tons. After that, there will be no more storage space.

A 5 September briefing for embassy officials in Tokyo followed an August meeting of a government panel of experts looking into ways to solve the water problem and a final government decision will be made based on a report by the panel, diplomats were told, but timing of the decision has not been fixed. (OOSKAnews)

The briefing for diplomats was attended by 27 embassy officials from 22 countries and regions, including South Korea and the United States.

“With transparency in mind, Japan will continue providing the international community with information (on the Fukushima situation),” Koichiro Matsumoto, the Foreign Ministry’s director of international cooperation, told diplomats.

However, also last month, Yoshiaki Harada, Japan’s environment minister, commenting on the lack of storage capacity for contaminated Fukushima water, said "The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it".

Japan is eager to get countries to lift restrictions on food imports from the Fukushima area ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; restrictions on imports remain in place in 22 countries and regions, including South Korea and China.

Aside from the environmental stance, it has been suggested that South Korea is trying to make additional points; specifically to retaliate for Japan’s recent economic measures against South Korea, and perhaps to embarrass the Japanese government in advance of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

South Korea's science ministry also raised the issue at the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency last month. At the gathering, Japan claimed that Seoul's concerns were not based on scientific evidence.

"There is another option to deal with radioactive water. Japan can keep it in the tanks until the radiation level becomes low enough. But this takes time and money. It will take about 300 years until it is okay to discharge the water," said Kim Ik-jung, a former medical professor and member of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission to the (Korea Times).

It seems likely that South Korea will continue to raise the wastewater issue to the international community until Japan comes up with a safe and acceptable solution.


EEA Calls For Wastewater Treatment Efficiency To Adapt To Climate Change Impacts, New Pollutants


A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) underscores that urban wastewater treatment now must also address additional challenges brought on by climate changes, increasing populations and, importantly, new pollutants.

The 9 October briefing suggests solutions for “Urban Waste Water Treatment for 21st Century Challenges”.

According to EEA about 97 percent of households in western and central Europe are connected to treatment facilities compared with 70 percent in southern and southeastern Europe. Despite marked improvement in recent years, it is estimated that approximately 30 million people in Europe are still not connected to waste water treatment plants, with a significant proportion in rural areas.

Climate change is presenting heavier and more frequent rainfall, affecting the ability of urban storm water sewers to operate efficiently. Excessive rain can overwhelm the systems and lead to overflows. A lack of rainfall leads to problems in collection and treatment of sewage.

It is incumbent on local authorities and water utilities to address these challenges through new construction, additional maintenance, operational efficiency and upgrades. Sourcing and retaining skilled staff to deliver the improvement is crucial to success of the improvements in water treatment systems.

The EEA briefing also examines the effect of antibiotics and other excreted pharmaceuticals that are increasingly being found in wastewater. A “cocktail” mix of chemicals cannot be easily tackled by many treatment plants, as they require costly, more stringent and energy-intensive treatment techniques.

The EEA suggests that scarce resources and high energy costs should promote efforts to make the wastewater treatment process more efficient. More can be done to recycle and reuse water and to recover materials during the treatment cycle.

The briefing cites some examples of investments already being taken across Europe to improve waste water treatment resilience, with the use of retention ponds and rainfall reservoirs to manage water flows from flash floods, or in reusing water that has been treated and cleaned.

Key “take-aways” include:

  • Proper collection and treatment of urban wastewater is essential to protect human health and the environment
  • No one solution fits all. European urban wastewater treatment plants function in widely varying conditions, ranging from different substances, population being served and local climatic conditions.
  • New pressures such as adapting to climate change, providing facilities in urban and rural areas, and tackling newly identified pollutants all require substantial investment in addition to maintaining existing infrastructure.
  • More needs to be done to insure greater recycling, reuse, and material removal.

Distance Learning Course "International Water Law and the Law of Transboundary Aquifers"

GENEVA, Switzerland

A new online course in International Water Law and Transboundary Aquifers has been developed by the Geneva Water Hub and the Platform for International Water Law of the University of Geneva, and will be available from 21 October to 22 December, 2019.

The online course has been designed for various professionals from different backgrounds including law, international relations, hydrology, engineering or economics. Content is also relevant to anyone working in transboundary water issues: government officials (diplomats, technical and scientific specialists), international organizations, NGO, civil society representatives, academics and professionals from the private sector.

The course offers its participants to:

  • Gain sound knowledge of international water law.
  • Acquire an in-depth understanding of the multifaceted aspects related to the governance of water resources.
  • Foster reflection on the linkages between international water law and other areas of international law.
  • Foster reflection allowing a more effective use of legal tools to improve access to water and solve water-related disputes.

Full and partial scholarships are available for participants from least developed and non-OECD countries.

For more information about this training, please click here.


India PM Water Diversion Commitment Criticised By Pakistan

New Delhi, India

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticised by the Pakistan government after he promised supporters that river waters that currently flow into Pakistan per terms of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty would be diverted to Indian farms and households in the region, claiming that despite the terms of the agreement, the water “belongs” to farmers of Haryana and Rajasthan.

“Work towards realisation of this has been started and I am committed towards it. Modi will fight your battle", Modi said at a 15 October rally in Haryana.

In response to Modi’s announcement, Mohammad Faisal of Pakistan’s Foreign Office, said that Pakistan had “exclusive rights” over the three western rivers as established by the Indus Waters Treaty and that any proposed diversion would be considered an “act of aggression”. To which Modi, in return, said 19 October Modi warned Pakistan that he’s serious about using 100% of Indian river waters. “Once I decide to do something, I always accomplish that,” Modi told an election rally, criticizing the opposition party for allowing a portion of India’s river water to leave the country.

India and Pakistan “share” the waters of six rivers that flow through the two nations. The World Bank-brokered agreement allocates control of the eastern rivers (the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej) to India and the western rivers (the Indus, the Chenab, and the Jhelum) to Pakistan. However, an estimated 5 percent of India’s unutilized water share flows to downstream Pakistan territory and India is attempting to access this flow.

The controversy over water is long-standing. In February then-minister Nitin Gadkari warned of such diversion after a suicide bomb killed 40 Indian soldiers in Pulwama.

Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated since 5 August when India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status. In response, Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has tried to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that it is an "internal matter".

Knowledge-based, Data-driven Decision Making

International Water Summit: "Preventing Water Crises"


Several hundred politicians, bankers, businessmen, investors and scientists gathered in Budapest, Hungary, this week to discuss challenges of emerging water crises – issues concerning abundant, scarce and polluted waters – and their social, economic, environmental and political consequences.

The 2019 Budapest Water Summit, the city’s third, convened 15-17 October under the auspices of Hungary’s President Janos Adler, with the theme “Preventing Water Crises”, took place halfway between the 2018 Brasilia and the 2021 Dakar World Water Fora and aimed to build on and contribute further to work conducted by the United Nations, the European Union, the World Water Council, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank Group and other organizations.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Summit, Adler said that “the drama of scarce water, too much water and polluted water is unfolding before our eyes", adding that this was “the drama of humanity and the logical consequence of our irresponsibility".

Adler said the main question was how to prevent a water crisis where this was still possible and how to adapt in places where there were already crises.

Although Hungarian water supplies are 11 times over the water scarcity limit, ten percent of the country is vulnerable to desertification, he warned.

Water preservation, the utilisation of precipitation and waste water, and irrigation development will “consume a lot of taxpayer money”, he said.

Hungary will also have to upgrade its dam and levee system which, in their current form, are not equipped to deal with the extreme floods expected in the region, he said.


"Chaos Map" Tool Informs Decision-making Around Resource Insecurity

CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom

A new tool, described as a “Chaos Map” of the world, may help people and governments to understand how escalating “chaos” can occur when pressures caused by limited resources are compounded by climate change or rising populations.

Dr Davide Natalini and Professor Aled Jones of Anglia Ruskin University, UK, scanned reports covering food, water, and fuel insecurity published since 2005 to plot what “unrest” was present within a territory in a given year across six categories: conflict, demonstrations, looting, protest, riot and suicide, also considering number of deaths by the resource insecurity to which they were directly attributable - food, water or fuel.

The resulting Chaos Map displays these intensity scores, giving an accessible, visual indication of ‘hotspots’ of unrest – or a picture of chaos, recording incidences of social unrest that have ultimately resulted in death.

The researchers plotted more than 1,300 deaths between 2005 and 2017 on an interactive map of the world, sourcing data from news items, focusing on key search words, such as “food protest” or “fuel crisis”, to match events that include at least one reported death due to underlying food, fuel or water security issues. They assumed the intensity of each episode is represented by the number of deaths connected to it. Therefore, a riot that resulted in one death is less “intense” than a demonstration that resulted in 20 deaths.

Out of a total collective “chaos figure” of 1,625 deaths over the period studied, 20 percent of deaths on the chaos map are attributed to suicide. The highest death toll was 425 in Sri Lanka, for a single event in August 2006 when Tamil rebels and the Sri Lankan army fought to control an irrigation sluice near Trincomalee, the researchers say.

This map, described as a pilot project, currently holds data on events up to 2017. But it is something the project aims to update and maintain in order to provide consistent open access data for the research community, as well as governments and NGOs.

Jones said: “As climate change increases the severity of extreme weather over the coming years and we see continuing political instability in key oil-producing regions, there is likely to be an increased frequency and severity of physical shocks to our food, fuel and water supplies”.


Nature "Shrinkage" Will Hit Access To Clean Water For Billions

PALO ALTO CA, United States

Researchers from Stanford University have developed a new interactive map measuring nature’s contributions to human well-being suggests that as many as five billion people, particularly in Africa and South Asia, are likely to face food shortages and lack of clean water in coming decades as a result of “shrinkage” in nature.

This new work builds on the first-ever Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Released in May 2019, this concluded that human activity has resulted in the severe alteration of more than 75 percent of Earth’s land areas and 66 percent of the oceans, putting a million species at risk of extinction.

The new examination of ecosystem services, published this month, looked at three aspects of nature’s contributions: providing clean water, coastal protection, and crop pollination. The model reveals that parts of Africa and South Asia will be most affected by the decline in nature as these areas are most directly dependent on nature for survival.

In examining clean water sources, the model mapped plants that grow near water resources. The model considered climate, runoff and other factors to estimate how much excess nitrogen fertilizer from upstream farm fields might remain in waterways. The project then overlaid this information with existing data on drinking water sources and produced an estimate of potential exposure to nitrate pollution.

Maps of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes that protect coastal erosion and storm surges were overlaid with maps of where people live on coasts to determine the amount of deterioration over time. Similarly, maps of food crop areas were overlaid with maps of areas of natural habitat.

The model then estimated what human needs would be and compared that to where nature is already providing (or not providing) ecosystem services, revealing gaps between demand and supply.

Using standard scenarios concerning changes in society, demographics, and economics, the research looked at different scenarios of land use, climate and population change through 2050.

“I hope no one is shocked that billions of people could be impacted by 2050,” said Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer a landscape ecologist at Stanford University and lead author of the study.

Patricia Balvanera, an ecologist at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México writes in Science Magazine that the study paints a "deeply worrying picture of the societal burdens of losing nature. What’s really scary is that the model only looked at three of the 18 contributions to human well-being we’ve identified.”

The impacts of the decline in nature are not clear but this new model attempts to quantify how many people will continue to be affected and where these populations are located. The resolution of the map could provide clues as to where nature could be restored or could be prevented from further deterioration.

The authors suggest that nature could provide clean water and prevent coastal erosion if the correct measures are taken to restore wetlands and coastal seagrasses, for example.

The global assessment report concluded that sweeping changes are needed in our governance, economic, food production, energy, and other systems. This tool could be used to guide some of those policy decisions.


Cities Are Opportunities To Get Transformative Climate Adaptation Right


A new report on challenges that global cities will face by 2050, when 66 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, emphasises that urban areas will face the most serious risks related to climate change: sea-level rise, floods, heat and water stress, and loss of biodiversity among other impacts.

“Unlocking the Potential for Transformative Climate Adaptation in Cities”, a new research report from World Resource Institute (WRI) focuses on cities in the global south with large vulnerable populations who are most at risk, recommending that municipal authorities seek climate adaptation solutions that are transformative and produce more equitable, and more sustainable growth. The research was released at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen Denmark, 14 October.

“Successful urban adaptation is about more than just withstanding storms, floods and heat; we must plan, deliver, and finance infrastructure and core services in cities differently, relying significantly on nature-based solutions and more closely engaging vulnerable communities,” comments co-author Anjali Mahendra.

This report on urban climate adaptation is part of a series of papers commissioned by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA). GCA data suggests that changes in five key areas, including city adaptation, could generate as much as $7.1 Trillion USD in net benefits in the next decade.

The paper highlights three key action areas for municipal authority focus that would advance transformative urban adaptation:

  • Include climate risks in planning and delivery of urban infrastructure and services; strengthen local capacity to act on that information..
  • Upgrade living conditions in vulnerable communities and informal settlements; draw upon local experience and community knowledge.
  • Prioritize nature-based solutions to holistically manage water and heat risks.
  • The report contends that coordinated governance and integrated planning by accountable institutions are keys to success. But inclusion is also part of the solution: partnerships across communities, private sector, and civil society are necessary to achieve progress on adaptation priorities.

“Cities are a fantastic opportunity to get adaptation right,” said Ani Dasgupta, Global Director of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “But cities must adapt in ways that correct underlying inequalities. Done carefully, transformative adaptation can put cities on a stronger, safer path that offers opportunity and a higher quality of life for all.”


"The Future Of Water Stewardship": aquaNOW Audience 11 November

EDINBURGH, United Kingdom
Tune in 4.30 PM UK time Monday 11 November HERE for the next “aquaNOW Audience”!
The Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, Scotland, will host the interactive panel discussion, produced by OOSKAnews, engaging international water experts and Scottish expertise in global water-related challenges and solutions, filmed before a live audience and streamed online to a global viewership, with the theme "The Future Of Water Stewardship". Attendance is free.
On 12 and 13 November, the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) will host its Global Water Stewardship Forum, also in Edinburgh. This Forum is regarded as a “must attend” event for the international water stewardship community.
The 11 November aquaNOW Audience panelists include:

Carla Toranzo is a civil engineer and candidate for doctor of business administration from Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands. She is a Latin America regional expert on Water & Sanitation, working on projects for the Inter-American Development Bank, particularly in Peru. She was Global Water Program Officer for Latin America for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and has led a portfolio of projects mainly in Peru, Bolivia, Brasil, Mexico and Chile. She has worked for the private sector and for the Government of Peru, both in technical and management positions in the infrastructure sector. Author, speaker and reviewer of publications, research documents and reports related to W&S, Green Buildings and Sustainable Cities. She currently serves as Latin America and The Caribbean Coordinator of the Alliance for Water Stewardship.
Herbert Kashililah (Kash) is an acknowledged water expert in Tanzania and East Africa who has led program design and delivery for over 30 years with government, civil society and donor communities. He has been instrumental in formulating progressive national policy and legislation on water, and his experience of working with the most vulnerable has shaped Tanzania’s Water Sector Development Program. In his 15 years as Program lead at WaterAid Tanzania he initiated integrated approaches to pro-poor WASH programming; Water Point Mapping; the National Policy Dialogue and Joint Sector Review Process. He is an advocate for improved water resource management, water stewardship by the private sector and accountable water governance, and founder member and current Chair of the NGO Shahidi wa Maji which has pioneered accountability monitoring on water in Africa. Kash also Chairs the Lake Rukwa Basin Water Board, the Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (TAWASANET) and is interim Chair of the Regional Advisory Group of Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Africa.
Michael Alexander is global head of water, environment, and agriculture sustainability for Diageo, a world leader in beverage alcohol with operations in over 30 countries and products sold in over 180 countries. With over 20 years of environmental experience, his principle responsibility is to drive the company’s environmental strategy and associated policies, communications, and stakeholder engagement, with particular focus on water stewardship and agricultural supply chains. Key to success is embedding the strategy across the whole business to ensure its long term growth while integrating the evolving and complex sustainability agenda and developing new partnerships. He joined Diageo in 2007 prior to which he was with Ericsson. A graduate of the universities of Edinburgh and London, Michael is a member of the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Institute of Economic Development and the Chartered Institute for Public Relations.
Matt Howard, Director of the Alliance for Water Stewardship, North America, has worked for The Water Council since 2015. He leads the development of The Water Council’s stewardship and sustainability initiatives. Before that Howard has served as Sustainability Director for the City of Milwaukee and developed programs and policies that cut costs and promoted the long-term sustainability of businesses, residents and municipal operations. Previously, he created a national Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative while with the US Department of Commerce, researched patents and innovation for the US Patent and Trademark Office, and served a special assignment at the US House of Representatives on behalf of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.
Kerr Adams is a Hydro Nation Scholar studying at the University of Edinburgh and the James Hutton Institute. His project - Scotland’s water landscape and its resilience to change: an assessment to support future policy - seeks to explore future demands, pressures and trade-offs on the water environment through engaging stakeholders in the development of scenarios, participatory modelling and interpretation of model outputs to inform environmental planners, managers and policy makers. Previously, Kerr worked as a graduate research assistant at the University of Arkansas, where he also achieved his MSc in Agricultural Economics. His research focused on addressing future groundwater scarcity issues in the irrigation intensive Arkansas Delta region. Kerr received his undergraduate degree in Sustainable Environmental Management from SRUC and the University of Edinburgh.
Nick Hepworth has worked to advance water management, sustainable development and social justice around the world for 25 years as a government regulator, an academic, consultant, educator and activist. In 2009 he founded the NGO Water Witness to lead action, research and advocacy for a fair water future so that all people can access the water they need to thrive and are protected against floods, drought, pollution, ecosystem degradation and water conflict. Water Witness co-developed the Alliance for Water Stewardship standard which holds some of the world’s largest corporations to account for responsible performance on water, and has pioneered the systematic application of accountability and budget monitoring for water security with civil society partners across Africa. Nick co-leads the Accountability for Water consortium, is an advisor to the UK’s Department for International Development, the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, and CDP Water, and is a Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia and the University of Glasgow.

Water Witness International To Launch 2030 Strategy:

The 11 November aquaNOW Audience will be followed by an event hosted by Water Witness International (WWI) to celebrate 10 years of that organization’s impact and the launch of its new 2030 Strategy.

This is an opportunity to hear about WWI’s five imperatives for action for a Fair Water Future in the face of the climate emergency, and the role WWI intends to play in their delivery over the next decade. WWI will also announce the inaugural winner of its “Water Warrior Award” which recognizes and supports those fighting for water justice around the world.

Background On Scotland, Hydro Nation:

Scotland's Hydro Nation Vision builds on recognition that water is of central importance to the economy of Scotland, both as a sector in its own right and as a critical resource in Scotland’s manufacturing, agriculture, food and drink, tourism and energy sectors. The aim of the Hydro Nation is to maximize the value of these resources in every sense, whether that be the contribution they make to the economy, or in how the quality of the country’s water environment contributes to citizens’ overall wellbeing and sense of national identity.

This approach to water, and climate change, is understood to be unique to Scotland.

Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform spoke earlier this year with David Duncan, Publisher, OOSKAnews, in this (LINK) OOSKAnewscast video interview. Cunningham’s portfolio includes responsibility for Scotland – the Hydro Nation.

Coverage and video footage of September 2019’s aquaNOW Audience (“The Philosophy of a Hydro Nation”) can be found HERE.


35-Year Drought Increases Displacement In Horn Of Africa

LONDON, United Kingdom

The Horn of Africa is now experiencing the lowest cumulative rainfall totals since 1981. As a consequence nearly 13 million people, including 6.5 million children, are facing critical levels of hunger. Although the number of food insecure people is lower than in 2017, the situation is expected to deteriorate with anticipated continuation of the drought.

International NGO Save the Children, reported 14 October that communities are struggling to replenish water supplies, regenerate pastures and restore livestock herds, resulting in displacement.

In the first five months of 2019, an estimated 59,000 people were displaced in Somalia due to the drought conditions. In June, an estimated 1.8 million in the Horn of Africa were displaced due to drought.

There is rising incidence of malnutrition, with a disproportionate number of children affected. Severely wasted children under the age of five are 11 times more likely to die than those at a healthy weight. This population is also vulnerable to more infection and more difficult recovery.

The new report specifically cites:

  • Kenya: an estimated 2.6 million people face acute food insecurity and are in need of humanitarian assistance. Another 6.8 million are one step away from reaching crisis levels of food insecurity.
  • Somalia: 2.1 million people face critical food shortages and require humanitarian support; an additional 4.2 million people are on the verge of critical shortages. More than one million children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition.
  • Ethiopia: 8.1 million people are in need of food assistance

Save the Children has called on the international community to assist in diverting mass displacement and loss of life.

Regional Director in East and Southern Africa, Ian Vale, said: “Over the past year we have repeatedly called for a dramatic increase in funding, and to date this has largely fallen on deaf ears. The current funding gap and the failure of the international community to step up have created the conditions for this region-wide emergency.

“The impact of climate change on the lives of Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalis is becoming more intense every year. We cannot expect children and their families in this poverty-stricken region to bear the impact of the climate crisis. This is a global issue, and we have a global responsibility to support the most vulnerable.”

People's Diplomacy And Intersectoral Water Management

"Budapest Appeal" Addresses "Whats" And "Hows" Of Water Challenges, Water Security


The third Budapest Water Summit concluded 17 October with the presentation of an outcome document, "The Budapest Appeal".

The purpose of the document is to collate views from the political and technical communities in order to raise the profile of water, especially with a view to increasing political will to address water challenges and water security.

The BWS 2019 Budapest Appeal addresses “What We Need To Do” and “How We Can Do It.”

Four main action areas include:

  • To recognize the multi-faceted value of water
  • To create a water-secure future for all
  • To ensure coordination across sectors and institutions
  • To build on innovative technologies, including remote sensing and digital information

The Appeal lists six recommendations for implementation:

  • Develop cooperation at all levels, through such actions as ensuring timely, transparent and accessible data and engender an all-inclusive approach to problem solving
  • Strengthen the role and capacity of institutions. Ensure gender balance and multi-stakeholder involvement; rethink the role of UN institutions in relation to water
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing at all levels on the science, management, impacts, and institutional arrangements for agreements on water;
  • Build capacities through education, vocational training. Revive local and indigenous traditional knowledge
  • Encourage a radical reorientation of financing flows. Account for and reduce water-related risk in all investments and programs. Develop economic valuation approaches to deal with trade-offs and the “hidden” water- stranded assets. Target subsidies towards those most in need
  • Frame every development policy with the environment in mind.

In his closing remarks, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary challenged the audience: “either all of us win or all of us lose,” in terms of water governance as “water connects us all.” He called for renewed effort for international organizations, governments, and the private sector to allocate financial resources in order to develop new technologies that would address water crises.

Emphasising that water is extremely important to maintaining peace and security, he added that challenges start out as local, “but impacts become global immediately,” and “neither water nor pollution stops at borders.”

Finance For Water Cooperation

WASH Funding Inadequate In Eastern and Southern Africa


A new report on water, sanitation and health (WASH) sector financing in UNICEF’s Eastern and Southern Africa Region (ESAR) has identified massive funding gaps that will hinder achievement of WASH Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region.

In comparison to other parts of the world, ESAR has the lowest percentage of households with access to at least basic water services but also lags behind in basic sanitation coverage, according to "The State of WASH financing in Eastern and Southern Africa".

In some detail, recent country reports from Burundi, eSwatini, Uganda and Zimbabwe provide an assessment of sources of WASH sector financing: how the finance is provided by various institutions, and quantity and equity distribution of the finance, and options to achieve future sector goals.

There are massive funding gaps facing the WASH sector in ESAR. In particular, approximately $15 Billion USD of new financing is required every year until 2030 to achieve the WASH-related SDGs. Half of those resources are needed in Ethiopia and Kenya. There are also issues of severe equity and distribution: scant investment in rural areas and in support of operations and maintenance of existing systems.

UNICEF describes its own important role including: (i) monitoring the amount and use of resources going into the WASH sector from all funding sources; (ii) maximising the impact of those resources, especially toward rural areas and operational budgets; (iii) helping to mobilise additional resources through taxes, tariffs, transfers, concessional finance and investment guarantees; and (iv) supporting governments as they explore commercial finance approaches.


Iran, Netherlands To Strengthen Water Sector Cooperation


Iran and the Netherlands are considering greater cooperation between the two countries in the water and power sectors.

Following a Tehran meeting, both Iranian Deputy Minister of Energy for International Affairs Mohammad Ali Farahnakian and Netherlands ambassador to Iran, Jacques Werner emphasized the history of cooperation between the two countries and the special strength of Dutch companies in the field of water management, in particular flood control.

Werner stressed the importance of the water, energy and food security nexus (as defined by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) and offered a number of opportunities for cooperation between the nations. Last month Werner had noted that “Contrary to Iran which suffers from water scarcity, the Netherlands owns huge water resources and this can be a good opportunity for two sides to collaborate on water and waste water management".

According to Iran's Ministry of information 12 October, Farahnakian welcomed Dutch companies’ contribution in Iran’s water and power projects.

New Mechanisms Of Hydro-diplomacy

Global High Level Panel On Water And Peace Activities Reviewed


At October's Budapest Water Summit, the Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace (GHLPWP) gathered two years after the publication of its milestone report "A Matter of Survival" formally launched in Geneva and presented in New York at the UN General Assembly in September 2017. The event was facilitated by the Geneva Water Hub acting as the Secretariat of the Panel. Public and private side events were held.

In the closed session, Members of the Panel overwhelmingly agreed on the positive accomplishments reached since the report's publication in 2017. They acknowledged the added value of the Geneva Water Hub’s work, and its wide network of partners. They also discussed options for the design and generation of new concrete initiatives following the report's wide dissemination in new languages such as Arabic and Hungarian.

During the public session the audience benefited from a number of interventions reflecting on key achievements. Among others, the Geneva list of principles for the protection of water and water related infrastructure during armed conflicts, was presented as one of the flagship products developed upon the recommendations of the Panel. The list is today in an advanced stage of completion. It reflects the work of a wide number of eminent actors in the field under the leadership of the Geneva Water Hub.

The setup of the Global Observatory for Water and Peace (GOWP), as the most visible and mobilising initiative was the subject of intensive exchanges. The GOWP aims at, carrying on the work of the Panel and, fostering new approaches to hydrodiplomacy. Its deployment is currently unfolding in a network of organisations gathering two key competences, namely analytical skills pertaining to hydropolitics as well as a convening power to achieve progress on sensitive issues. Strong supportive statements were made towards the implementation of the GOWP at various regional levels. Institutional representatives from the Americas, Africa and the Arab region among others, voiced their political will to provide concrete help at various levels of the process.

Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation of Senegal, stated that his country will “spare no effort” in translating the recommendations of the Panel into realistic, achievable and concrete actions. He further emphasized the relevance of the recommendations that have been endorsed by the UN-World Bank Global High-Level Panel on Water. Senegal was elected on October 15, 2015 as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and declared its mandate (2016 to 2017) under the theme of “Water, Peace, and Security”. The country has already met the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and is actively committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal 6 on water and sanitation. In March 2021, Dakar will host the 9th World Water Forum that will focus on water, security, peace and development. As a further commitment of his government to advance global water issues and, more specifically, those in Africa, the Minister declared that his country will establish and host the African node of the GOWP.


The Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace was launched in 2015 with the task of developing a set of proposals aimed at strengthening the global framework to prevent and resolve water-related conflicts, and facilitating the use of water as an important factor of building peace and enhancing the relevance of water issues in national and global policy making. The 15 countries who co-convened the Panel were Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Estonia, France, Ghana, Hungary, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Oman, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland with the Geneva Water Hub acting as Secretariat. The Panel was tasked with focusing on four main themes: identify legal, economic, financial and institutional mechanisms to incentivize multi-sectoral and transboundary water cooperation; examine how to cope with and prevent water-related conflicts, namely transboundary and inter-sectoral — possibly exploring potential mechanisms to promote hydro-diplomacy; promote effective implementation of the global water conventions; promote best practices in water cooperation.

This article was updated 6 November 2019.


Launch Of Global Media Platform “The Water Diplomat”

GENEVA, Switzerland

The Geneva Water Hub and OOSKAnews hosted an international press conference at the Geneva Water Hub 4 October to launch the global media platform “The Water Diplomat”.

Footage of the press conference can be found HERE.

Issue 2 of "The Water Diplomat" FREE Monthly briefing can be found HERE.

To register for a FREE monthly subscription to "The Water Diplomat", click HERE.

Press and other attendees listened to presenttions from, and questioned a panel consisting of:

  • Dr. Danilo Turk, Chair of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace
  • Mr. François Münger, Director of the Geneva Water Hub
  • Mr. Johan Gély, Head of Global Water Program, The Blue Peace Movement and the Engagement of Switzerland
  • Mr. David Duncan, CEO of OOSKAnews
  • Mr. Dagim Terefe Gesese, Freelance Journalist and Global Goodwill Ambassador of Ethiopia (by video message)

Freshwater management is a major challenge of our century. It continuously evolves between situations of tension, conflict and cooperation in a dynamic way.

As a vital and irreplaceable element increasingly under threat, freshwater is fundamental to ensuring food security, energy and industry needs, public health goals, among other areas. It is also the most visible aspect and a central element of climate change. More than a full-fledged sustainable development goal, water is the cornerstone of the stability of our societies. Media engagement is instrumental to raise awareness on water issues. In a move to bridge the gap on hydropolitical information and trigger the interest of the public and the media, the Geneva Water Hub and the world’s leading publisher on water OOSKAnews jointly launched the global media platform “The Water Diplomat”, a free monthly news and intelligence resource specialised in hydropolitics. This project pursues the goal of promoting access to political stakes of water management that are making news around the world.

The Water Diplomat is produced by OOSKAnews, Inc in a collaboration with The Geneva Water Hub. Content is produced by, and copyright held by OOSKAnews, Inc and does not represent any official position of The Geneva Water Hub.

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