Charles Iceland, Director of Global and National Water Initiatives, World Resources Institute (WRI) speaks with David Duncan, Publisher, OOSKAnews in this (LINK) “Water Diplomacy Talks” video interview. (LINK)
Iceland explains a newly launched learning tool which claims to predict, with 86 percent accuracy, the risk of violent conflicts up to 12 months ahead of time. Initial findings from the Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership’s Global Early Warning Tool predict risk of conflict in the next 12 months in many parts of the world, notably in Iraq, Iran and Mali. The tool uses machine learning coupled with environmental, meteorological, social and economic data to forecast exactly where organized violence is likely to occur, and aims to enable global development, diplomacy, disaster response and defence experts – together with country governments and local stakeholders – to intervene and help defuse conflicts before blood is shed. The tool, including a map-based interface, predicts the risk of conflict across Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia (and soon globally) by analysing patterns between violent conflict and more than 80 environmental, economic and social variables going back 20 years, and then compares those patterns to current conditions to pinpoint potential hotspots. The tool has highly granular spatial resolution – at the sub-provincial or district/county level.
The Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership is a collaboration between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a consortium of six partners: IHE Delft (lead partner), World Resources Institute (WRI), Deltares, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), Wetlands International and International Alert.
In a post on the World Resources Institute Iceland says: “As the world’s population moves closer to 10 billion people, we are seeing more severe water and food crises, social unrest and conflict. Water is often an overlooked root cause of conflict and destabilizing migration. The Water, Peace and Security Global Early Warning Tool and other components of the WPS approach are designed to help water-insecure countries map and understand the challenges, mobilize resources, build capacity and take action. With the power to predict conflicts triggered in part by water risks 12 months in advance, and with a high degree of geospatial resolution and certainty, we hope this is a game-changer in helping prevent such conflicts in the first place...Water is certainly not the only driver of conflict, but it is an important – and often overlooked – one. A quarter of the world's population lives in extremely water stressed areas.
"While action on water issues can serve as a means of building peace, water risks like drought, scarcity, pollution and floods can also serve as threat multipliers that help trigger conflict or contribute to famine, loss of livelihoods or displacement. Previous early warning tools have only focused on vulnerabilities such as political, economic, social and demographic factors to predict conflict. The WPS Global Early Warning Tool is unique because it combines these factors with environmental variables linked to water – such as rainfall, water scarcity and crop failures – to understand the full picture".