To what extent can international actors and movements from civil society influence water management? How and when is this beneficial/detrimental and how can these effects be supported/mitigated?

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Key Question Categor(ies):Power and Politics

Case Studies that Answer this Question:

From: Case Study of Transboundary Dispute Resolution: Multilateral Working Group on Water Resources (Middle East)
In attempts at resolving particularly contentious disputes, solving problems of politics and resource use is best accomplished in two mutually reinforcing tracks. The most useful lesson of the multilateral working group on water resources is the handling of water and political tensions simultaneously, in the bilateral and multilateral working groups respectively, each track helping to reinforce the other. This lesson has been learned after a long history of failing to solve water problems outside of their political context.

From: China: The Three Gorges Dam Hydroelectric Project

From: China: The Three Gorges Dam Hydroelectric Project

From: Conflict Management Strategies Among Riparians Within the Indus River Basin
Positive, active, and continuous involvement of a third party is vital in helping to overcome conflict. The active participation of Eugene Black and the World Bank were crucial to the success of the Indus Water Treaty. The Bank offered not only their good offices, but a strong leadership role as well. The Bank provided support staff, funding, and, perhaps most important, its own proposals when negotiations reached a stalemate. Coming to the table with financial assistance can provide sufficient incentive for a breakthrough in agreement. The Bank helped raise almost 900 million from the international community, allowing for Pakistan’s final objections to be addressed.

From: Efforts of Coordinating Joint Development of Hydropower Projects Within the Salween Basin
Tensions are created when a country within a basin acts unilaterally without consulting other nations. Thailand and Myanmar have been working together for some time on the development of the Salween River basin, but China has been acting unilaterally, potentially constructing up to 13 dams on the upper stem of the river. Without working with the two downstream nations, China risks creating conflict with Thailand and Myanmar.

From: Integrated Joint Management Agreements of Mekong River Basin Riparians
The greater the international involvement in conflict resolution, the greater the political and financial incentives to cooperate. The pace of development and cooperation in the Mekong River watershed over the years has been commensurate with the level of involvement of the international community. Early accomplishments were impressive, impelled in part by strong UN support and a "Mekong Spirit" on the part of the "Mekong Club" of donors. By the 1970s, the pace of cooperative development began to slacken, partly the result of decreasing involvement by an international community daunted by political obstacles and the size of planned projects.

From: Integrated Management and Negotiations for Equitable Allocation of Flow of the Jordan River Among Riparian States
Including key non-riparian parties can be useful to reaching agreement; excluding them can be harmful. Egypt was included in the Johnston plan era negotiations because of its preeminence in the Arab world, and despite its non-riparian status. Some attribute the accomplishments made during the course in part to President Nasser's support.

In contrast, pressure after the negotiations from other Arab states not directly involved in the water conflict may have had an impact on its eventual demise. Iraq and Saudi Arabia strongly urged Lebanon, Syria and Jordan not to accept the Plan. Perhaps partially as a result, Lebanon said they would not enter any agreement that split the waters of the Hasbani River or any other river.

Along with political entities, many interests affected by river management were not included in the process. These included NGO's, public interest groups, and environmental groups. Perhaps as a consequence, the entire river was allocated, without consideration of in-stream usage.

From: International Management for Water Quality Within The Kura-Araks Basin
The principle of "parallel unilateralism" was developed here, allowing each collaborating pair of countries to work together, while coordinating the work of the countries which do not. Due to lack of movement from the three primary governments of the Kura-Araks River basin (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) towards working together in the management of the river, fifty NGOs came together to form the NGO Coalition of the Kura-Araks in order to start activities between the three countries by cleaning up pollution and educating the public about the current situation.

From: Mineral and Petroleum Resource Extraction in the Arctic Ocean – Conflicting Oversight, Governance and Rights

From: Organization for the Development of the Senegal River
Lack of participation of all basin nations weakens the overall negotiations and creates opportunity losses for those not participating. Guinea, not party to the OMVS organization, has not experienced the development benefits of the other three countries in the basin. As a result, they are lacking water resource management infrastructure, a reliable energy source and water supplies.

From: Pollution in the Pilcomayo: Mining and Indigenous Communities
Several important donors have been active in the Pilcomayo Basin. Also, there are budding initiatives by indigenous groups to organize. The question is, to what extent these forces from above and below are effective in asserting tighter control over pollution.

From: Preserving and Monitoring the Guarani Aquifer for Current and Future Use
In order to manage a transboundary aquifer effectively, it requires coordinated collaboration, cooperation and communication between national and sub-national governments, as well as the private sector, international organizations and local civil society. With an integrated management strategy that affects international politics, economics, the environment and social well-being, it is necessary to include all stakeholders in the process from design to implementation to maintenance, in order for the program to be effective and sustainable. There needs to be a broad understanding of a common goal and a clear strategy and methodology to achieve that goal.

From: The Caspian- a Sea or a Lake?
In this case, some internaitonal actors are allowing for more pressure on the littoral states, as they try to push their own agenda regarding the energy reserves. This is contributing to the parties hestiance in reaching an agreement.