Water Diplomacy Training Program


Water security is critical for all societies. Yet, growing water scarcity and changing climate makes water
security increasing political, increasing tensions between both water user groups and neighboring
countries. While water cooperation – in transboundary basins and other contexts – has been promoted
as the main approach to ease such tensions, it is not always enough. As water cooperation builds on the
parties’ willingness for collaboration, it is often inadequate approach for highly politised contexts and
situations. Water diplomacy can strengthen water cooperation and promote equitable water
management in two ways: by providing diplomatic instruments for water-related settings, and by
bringing water into broader (geo)political discussions. Diplomatic instruments such as negotiations,
mediations and arbitrations should therefore be actively deployed to prevent water-related conflicts.
This event introduces EU’s new Council Conclusion on Water Diplomacy (2018), and discusses the
possibilities that water diplomacy can bring to complement existing transboundary water cooperation
mechanisms such as those under UNECE Water Convention. The event includes also practical tools and
actions, and source of financing (e.g. Middle East, Africa and Central Asia) of recent diplomatic efforts
for dispute resolution.

Securing water under changing climate is increasingly political. This calls for water diplomacy, which
strengthens water cooperation with its focus on foreign policy tools and dispute settlement. This session
discusses how water diplomacy can ease the tensions at national and regional scales to promote
equitable water use.

Water cooperation and diplomacy are practical fields of action and intervention dealing with how to
govern water across national borders, and simultaneously emerging fields of study and reflection to
understand why and how states cooperate or not, over shared water resources. You will examine
various cases of cooperation as well as (potential) conflict over transboundary water, apply tools and
skills to analyse the patterns of cooperation and (potential) conflict and discuss ways to foster water
cooperation and prevent conflicts by diplomatic means.

Course Objectives
At the end of the course, participants should be able to:
• Describe major contemporary stressors influencing freshwater availability and their impact on
achieving national security goals;
• Identify water’s potential for conflict and identify some of the world’s main water “hotspots”;
• Recognize water’s cooperation potential and the benefits to be drawn from collaborative
transboundary water management between state actors;
• Define the importance and structure of transnational water management institutions in their
role to consolidate and sustain the benefits of cooperation around water.
Who should attend:
Water professionals, Engineers, diplomats and professionals involved in water diplomacy activities
interested in broadening their understanding of concepts, challenges and tools relating to water

Duration of the Program
Duration of the course is (4) days from 9am -4 pm

Course content
This course will introduce participants to different concepts of water cooperation and diplomacy and the
underlying theories, and provide them with relevant knowledge, tools and skills to understand and
engage with transboundary water cooperation and (potential) water related conflicts.
The course will be delivered through a combination of lectures and group activities. Case studies will be
used to reflect on actual and potential water related conflicts as well as cooperation processes and to
learn from approaches and tools applied in practice, such as joint fact finding, negotiation and
mediation. Exercises such as mapping of stakeholder networks, serious games and role plays will be
conducted to understand how to approach conflict as well as cooperation processes.

Program overview:

  • Part 1: understanding and discussing water cooperation and diplomacy: key concepts
    and challenges
  •  Part 2: introducing case studies, defining & applying suitable methods of analysis
  •  Part 3: analysis of case studies and group work; consider adequate conflict resolution
    mechanisms for different settings
  •  Part 4: serious game; role play and evaluation of experiences
  •  Part 5: meeting a practitioner: experiences from the field; reflection on position of
    individual participant in (potential) water conflict; wrap up