Course in Water Diplomacy

In the week from 26 to 29 October 2020 I had the pleasure to facilitate a workshop in Water Diplomacy, organized by United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). 

The workshop included negotiation training, power mapping, insights in legal background and of course many discussions about International River Basins and water related challenges. Participants were 12 very engaged diplomats, some of them in key positions within the negotiation of International rivers including discussions about Nile River Basin.


The course included the following topics:

1. An overview on Global Water Challenges

Goals were a) to understand global and regional water challenges (seasonal and spatial water distribution, water scarcity, water conflict) as well as b) a description of contemporary stressors influencing freshwater availability in the region of participants as well as their impact on achieving national security goals.

2. The different dimensions of water challenges/conflicting issues
Here, the aim was a) to understand the underlying concept of water resources negotiation including cost and benefits sharing and b) understanding water cooperation and how diplomatic methods based on dialogue can potentially encourage mutually beneficial problem-to-solution processes.

3. Water Management in the Zambezi River Basin:
Goal of the presentation of this case study was to analyze the interconnectivity among the natural, societal and political domains.

4. Power mapping – how to approach persons/institutions
We discussed different negotiation approaches and strategies, How do we deal with negotiation deadlocks and how can we potentially make use of Game Theory

5. Legal background to water diplomacy
Introduction to international water law and the Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (“the UN Watercourses Convention”)

6. Different approaches to Water Diplomacy
How do we design negotiation and cooperation processes? Differences between mediation approaches and processes as well as a short introduction in governance and water diplomacy.