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The Water Diplomat Talks – Charles Iceland, Director, Global and National Water Initiatives with the World Resources Institute’s Food, Forests, and Water Programs.

WASHINGTON DC, United States

OOSKAnews caught up with Charles Iceland this week to talk about global water risk, threats, conflict, migration and food security.

In conversation with OOSKAnews' David Duncan, Iceland expands upon the “Issue Brief” he co-authored this year, “Water, Security and Conflict”, a paper for professionals in the defense, diplomacy, and development fields.

Where will the next water war erupt? Why are the US and Russia hold-outs over new water-conflict monitoring? Are Central-American refugee families making their way to the US because of water stress? Are we all going to hell in a handbasket?

Here is the full conversation (audio).

The United Nations Security Council has recently turned more attention to the relationship between water risks and conflict within and between countries. At an October 26 meeting organized by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Security Council members and UN member countries convened on the topic of water, peace and security with a goal to explore ways for the UN system to systematically address water scarcity as a root cause of conflict. 

In a recent blog, Charles Iceland described an example of a promising emerging technology from the Water, Peace, and Security Partnership (WPS), which is developing an early warning system for water-related conflicts which will use water risk indicators like drought severity and access to clean water, together with social, political, economic and demographic data to predict which conflicts may arise in the next 12 months.

"The system could help countries identify water and conflict hotspots early so they can take risk-mitigating measures, such as diverting water from farms to cities, or prioritizing storage in reservoirs. It could also help bodies like the UN and others in the development, diplomacy and defense communities to alert countries of coming crises and provide support".

"Better data and early-warning systems can inform smarter water decisions, reduce the risk of conflict, and improve the lives of many. It will require action not only from the UN Security Council, but all branches of the UN system, member states, NGOs and academics. Water needs to be viewed as a human right that underpins almost all development efforts. The UN Security Council can provide a rallying cry for preventive action, and call upon the UN system for coordinated responses, including strengthening the institutions that manage water in vulnerable countries".

"After all, peace is not just the absence of conflict. It is also the ability to handle potential conflict by peaceful means, such as effective risk-reduction strategies for water scarcity".