High-Level Panel Charts Path for Water-Driven Peace and Cooperation
UN Photo/Victoria Hazou
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The High-Level Panel on Water and Peace delivered its report after a two-year period of study and consultation.

The report provides recommendations for strengthening the role of water as a driver of peace and cooperation.

Its proposals include the creation of a Blue Fund for international cooperation involving infrastructure, and a Global Observatory for Water and Peace to strengthen hydro-diplomacy.

18 September 2017: The High-Level Panel on Water and Peace delivered its report after a two-year period of study and consultation. The report provides recommendations for strengthening the role of water as a driver of peace and cooperation. Its proposals include the creation of an International Blue Fund for international cooperation involving infrastructure, and a Global Observatory for Water and Peace to strengthen hydro-diplomacy.

The High-Level Panel on Water and Peace was initiated by a group of 15 UN Member States in response to rising concerns about threats posed by climate change, increased food and energy demands, and attacks on water resources and infrastructure in armed conflicts. The co-convening countries are Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Estonia, France, Ghana, Hungary, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Oman, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland. The panel was launched in Geneva, Switzerland, on 16 November 2015, approximately one year before the UN Security Council conducted its first-ever thematic debate on water, security and peace on 22 November 2016.

The report calls on the UN General Assembly to convene an intergovernmental Global Conference on International Water Cooperation.

The report of the panel, titled ‘A Matter of Survival: Report of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace,’ calls for “a fundamental rethinking” of international water cooperation. It proposes that the UN General Assembly should convene an intergovernmental Global Conference on International Water Cooperation to formulate a cooperation strategy and five-year action plan. Other proposals include having the UN Security Council adopt a resolution on the protection of water resources and installations in situations of armed conflict, and the UN Global Compact develop a voluntary code of practice on water management. The report also calls for developing a global data and monitoring system, including international water quality standards, based on current work by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and UN Environment.

To support transboundary water cooperation projects involving infrastructure, the panel proposes setting up an International Blue Fund. Such a fund would be able to provide preferential and concessional finance for large transboundary projects, could help finance preparatory costs and insurance costs, and provide matching grants, as well as create a “safe space” in the start-up period for stakeholders to discuss anticipated problems.

To help governments use water as an instrument of cooperation, the panel recommends creating a Global Observatory for Water and Peace that would focus on ‘hydro-diplomacy’ and undertake consultative activities in relation to the preparation of transboundary water infrastructure projects. In this regard, the report comments that, “we need a new mechanism to pursue “agency” as an increased capacity to act together, and not as another institution.”

Danilo Türk, former President of Slovenia and Chair of the High-Level Panel, explained that the High-Level Panel had met four times – in Switzerland, Senegal, Costa Rica, and Jordan – between November 2015 and May 2017 to formulate its recommendations. Many other expert consultations took place in addition to these meetings, including individual consultations with more than 100 policy specialists, and eight think-tank roundtable discussions. [UN-Water Report Web Page] [Publication: A Matter of Survival – Report of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace]


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