* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
What do Cochabamba, Bolivia, India’s Deccan Plateau and Norcross, Ga., have in common?
They’re all areas that have experienced water conflict. Whether it’s due to privatization, climate change or state regulation, water is often a source of contention in both the developed and developing world.
For example, drought has played a significant role in fueling conflict in Syria, according to a recent CNN blog. A 2008 cable sent from Syria to institutions such as the United Nations and the League of Arab States underscored the dire situation and requested more than US$20 million of drought mitigation assistance. The Syrian agriculture minister warned that the political destruction and social instability caused by the drought would be beyond the country’s capacity to cope.
While water may not always be the leading cause of conflict as it was in Cochabamba’s fight against water privatization, it is often a contributing, and sometimes overlooked factor.
But water issues are also opportunities for cooperation towards a more peaceful world. With about 260 international river basins worldwide, scarce water resources are often shared by multiple states. The United Nations Development Programme stressed the importance of water cooperation in the post-2015 development agenda when the Millennium Development Goals give way to a new set of “sustainable development goals.”
“Water is at the heart of a daily crisis faced by millions of the most vulnerable people in the world,” said Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Rebeca Grynspan, in an Aug. 21 UN News Centre article. “Effective and inclusive water cooperation at all levels – local, national, regional, and international – is essential to effective water governance and thus to achieving key water-related objectives and targets.”
One surprising example of water cooperation is taking place between Israel and Palestine. Spearheaded by the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information, work is underway to establish improved wastewaterinfrastructure that would positively impact shared aquifer resources. Despite long-standing political tension, the need to address common water resource needs transcended political and ideological differences.
As September 21 marks the UN-dedicated International Day of Peace, a day which provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date, Pure Water for the World joins with you in the hope of achieving a more peaceful world.