On Thursday, 30 April, EWI’s Preventive Diplomacy Initiative hosted the second installment in a policy dialogue to improve cooperation on water in Afghanistan and Southwest Asia. The dialogue, part of EWI’s initiative to promote alternative futures for Afghanistan and Southwest Asia, is designed not only to foster better management of water—the most critical of natural resources—but also to create ties between local and regional authorities that can build trust and prevent conflicts in this volatile area.

Speakers at this installment of the dialogue included Ambassador Miroslav Jenča, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Asia and Head of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) and Angelika Beer, Member of the European Parliament and Co-Chair of the Executive Council of EWI’s Parliamentarians Network for Conflict Prevention and Human Security.

Key issues discussed at the meeting were:

  • A change in focus from water shortage to inefficiencies in water usage;
  • The importance of tangible benefits for all stakeholders;
  • Shared management and shared training as peacebuilding tools;
  • The political importance of the history of water use and management;
  • The role of regional organizations;
  • China and Russia’s potential role in enhancing regional cooperation on water.

This was the second in a series of five policy dialogues, which will produce an action-oriented policy paper and build towards an international conference on regional cooperation over water in December 2009. Following are the remaining sessions in the series:

  • Thursday, 28 May, 2009: Management of the Kabul river and Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan; 
  • Thursday, 25 June, 2009: Management of the Helmand river and Afghanistan’s relations with Iran;
  • July 2009 (date to be confirmed): Management of the Harirud and Murghab rivers and Afghanistan’s relations with Iran and Turkmenistan. *


*Please note: The topics for the third and fourth sessions have now been reversed, and discussion of the Helmand River basin and Afghanistan’s relations with Iran will now take place on Thursday, 25 June 2009.