Policymakers Meet to Discuss “Water Security in the Himalayan Region”

News | November 04, 2019

On October 21, the EastWest Institute (EWI), together with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), convened a high-level roundtable dialogue entitled: “Water Security in the Himalayan Region – Navigating Opportunities for Joint Prosperity and Conflict Prevention” in Brussels, Belgium.

The dialogue, the first in the project series, brought together several distinguished experts representing both the public and private sectors in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and the European Union to jointly assess the risks and threats to water security and gauge opportunities for future cooperation between co-riparian states in the Himalayan region. The roundtable dialogue comprised two panel discussions featuring stakeholder panelists from each of the participating countries.

The first panel, Rethinking Hydrodiplomacy in an Uncertain Geopolitical Future, invited discussion around the dwindling supply of water in the Himalayan region, which has the potential to manipulate geopolitics and incite conflict. Panelists conveyed that against the backdrop of excessive demographic pressures and exacerbating climate change, hydrodiplomacy should be independent of geopolitics.  It was established that while the role of existing treaties and transboundary water cooperation mechanisms continues to be indispensable, under current circumstances, it is imperative to recognize the need for innovative models of hydrodiplomacy, which demand improved data sharing; greater interaction between science and policy making; and increased analysis of related economic and ecological costs.

The second panel on Effective Water Resource Governance through Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships focused on the notion that in order to promote water security and improved resource governance in the region, efforts should be concentrated on encouraging engagement of a broad range of diverse actors including the private sector, civil society, scientists, farmers and academia. Discussants highlighted that the foremost step towards incorporating outside voices is identifying the challenge at hand and subsequently the right stakeholders, especially in an environment dictated by national interests and intransigent regional conflicts. It was also recommended that emphasis be placed on a multi-disciplinary approach towards water management in terms of its direct correlation with food and energy.

The experts concluded that the main challenges to water security in the Himalayan region have resulted from the perennial gap between the supply and demand, coupled with a lack of adequate monitoring of hydrological science and data sharing. EWI, with the support of its partners, will continue to mobilize and engage key experts and stakeholders in dialogues on the challenges of water security at the policy making and governance levels.

An outcome report from the discussion featuring policy recommendations and takeaways will be available on the EWI website by the end of this month.

For further information, please contact Ms. Farwa Aamer at faamer@eastwest.ngo.