In an interview for the Water, Energy & Food Security Nexus Platform, adelphi's Benjamin Pohl gives insights into a recent study on water cooperation in Central Asia and explains how transnational water management can strengthen economic and political ties in the region.
Tense relations between India and China and the lack of meaningful cooperation between them over the waters of the Brahmaputra could turn it into a geopolitical flashpoint. India should push for an all-encompassing dialogue on river water sharing that ensures transparency and cooperation at all times, on both sides of the Sino-Indian border and beyond.
Central Asian countries have long been competing over the water resources of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya river basins. Despite political commitment to cooperation, the policies of the five Central Asian republics – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – have largely been driven by uncoordinated and partly contradicting national strategies. This focus on short-term national interests entails significant financial costs and major risks for the future development of the whole region.
The impacts of new dams and diversions are felt across borders, and the development of new water infrastructure can increase political tensions in transboundary river basins. International water treaties and river basin organizations serve as a framework to potentially deescalate hydro-political tensions across borders.
Small steps by Pakistan are helping it create resilience in the face of climate change, an issue the Indus Waters Treaty did not anticipate, and which endangers it.
On the Mekong Delta, the massive river system in Southeast Asia, we see a prime example of how import water and water management are for sustainable development and climate change. This has to do, for one, with the human right to access to clean drinking water, as well as with agriculture, which now accounts for around 70 percent of global water consumption. In India, this share is as high as 90 percent. Water management along large rivers, especially in light of climate change, is an urgent challenge that developing countries must confront. FAIReconomics discussed water management and climate diplomacy in the Mekong Delta with Sabine Blumstein, a Project Manager at adelphi, an independent think tank and leading advisory body for climate, environment, and development issues.
The Mekong River is vital, serving >66 million people. Sabine Blumstein shares 3 reasons for more climate diplomacy.
Since the Uri army base attack on 18 September 2016, in which 17 Indian soldiers were killed (called the “deadliest attack on the security forces in Kashmir in two decades”), relations between India and Pakistan have been at an all-time low. While India has provided ample evidence to establish the origin of the attack as Pakistan, the latter continues to be in denial. India has been on a diplomatic and political offensive ever since – attempting to isolate Pakistan globally, carrying out surgical strikes against “launch pads” for terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC) and re-examining some of the existing bilateral treaties, one of them being the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).
In a totally different but connected case, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been forced to keep on hold a big project meant to reduce the risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) in northern Pakistan, which also includes disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan – mainly due to objections raised by India.
Chinese scientists call for countries to work together to reduce emissions of black carbon which is causing glaciers to retreat on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, reports Liu Qin.
With the failure of July 14-15 talks held between India and Pakistan to settle concerns raised by the latter over the former’s dam projects (Kishenganga and Ratle) over the Western rivers (Jhelum’s tributary and Chenab respectively) of the Indus Basin (allocated to the latter under the Indus Waters Treaty), Pakistan has now decided to take the matter to the International Court of Arbitration (ICA), based in the Hague. While the political and legal battles over the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) continue to create headlines in the region, and across the world, there is another time bomb ticking beneath the surface.