Greater cooperation through water diplomacy and cross-border river basin management
The Bridge Project “Building dialogue for good water governance” is starting its third phase for a two-year period (2016 – 2018) in the three original regions (Andes, Meso-America and the Mekong) with five additional points of access in three regions of Africa (West and Central Africa and South Africa).
The Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a current paradigm of water management. Together with climate change, water is becoming the most pressing social and environmental problem of the 21st century.
Faced with this panorama, the water resources management sector has to tackle the new global changes and a quicker rhythm than ever before: demographic growth, migration, urbanization, climate change, land use changes and economic disruption. Cooperation between countries in cross-border water management is an essential element for international security and regional stability. Water management is also a local activity because clean, safe and reliable water is intrinsic to health, food security and economic opportunity.
Through the Global Programme Water Initiatives, Swiss Cooperation (SDC) is providing technical and financial support to the BRIDGE Project, together with the Water Programme and the IUCN Environmental Law Centre, with the aim of promoting IWRM in the cross-border river basins in four regions: Andes, Meso-America, the Mekong, West and Central Africa and South Africa.
In SDC’s experience, many of the world’s countries are ready to talk about a series of coherent policies, laws and common and agreed regulations for the sustainable management of shared water resources. These principles are the vanguard of the principles of water diplomacy.
In its third phase, the BRIDGE Project will aim to encourage the countries to agree on the socio-economic, environmental and political benefits arising from water use and to ensure they apply the agreed cooperative management mechanisms, improving governance and water management in the river basins identified as priorities. The aim of this is to ensure that communities (especially the most vulnerable) have equitable and sustainable access to water resources, benefitting their social and economic development. In the Latin America region, the river basins that the project has identified are: the River Zarumilla (Ecuador-Peru), the River Catamayo-Chira (Ecuador-Peru) and Lake Titicaca (Peru-Bolivia).
It should be emphasised that the intervention strategy is geared to three complementary lines of action: i) water diplomacy, addressing the challenges of water security by developing collaboration solutions for managing water sustainably at key cross-border points. Its objective is to transform solutions and approaches like these into agreements and treaties; ii) improving water management and governance, through a combined intervention with all the stakeholders in a river basin, at national, municipal or community level, and the capacity these stakeholders have for producing coherent policies for the sustainable use of cross-border water, taking into consideration local, national, regional and international aspects, becoming a key factor for conflict prevention; and iii) strategic projects, to provide necessary and essential scientific and technical information for evidence-based water management policies and to establish consensual and equitable cross-border agreements.
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