On Thursday, April 2, EWI’s Preventive Diplomacy Initiatives launched a new series of expert dialogues on water security in Afghanistan and the region. The series, Alternative Futures for Afghanistan and the Stability of Southwest Asia: Improving Regional Cooperation on Water, follows a decision by the EastWest Institute’s Parliamentarians Network on Conflict Prevention and Human Security to focus on water security as a critical component of conflict prevention.

The opening session of the series, held in Brussels, brought together leaders and experts from Afghanistan and the region to forge collective action on water – the most critical of natural resources.

The key issues identified at the meeting were:

  • The political sensitivity of the water issue;
  • The potential of collaborative water management as a means to build trust and confidence in the region;
  • The importance of sharing information;
  • The need for better management of water as a precondition for social and economic development; and
  • The connections between water and energy (hydropower).

This was the first in a series of five policy dialogues. Each of the next four sessions will focus on a specific water resource shared between Afghanistan and one or more of its neighbors. The series 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, 30 April, 2009: Management of the Amu Darya river and Afghanistan’s relations with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan;
  • Thursday, 28 May, 2009: Management of the Helmand river and Afghanistan’s relations with Iran;
  • Thursday, 25 June, 2009: Management of the Kabul river and Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan;
  • July, 2009 (date to be confirmed): Management of the Harirud and Murghab rivers and Afghanistan’s relations with Iran and Turkmenistan.