Water Diplomacy

Why Do We Need Water Diplomacy?

The ability of purely scientific and engineering approaches to address major challenges in managing water resources has reached its limit.

  • While scientific formulation and engineering solutions are necessary to address water problems, effective synthesis of societal and political solutions have not been an integral part of long-term and adaptive resolutions of many unresolved water problems.
  • Water issues are complex because of their intricate coupling among natural, societal, and political domains where people and problems interact to shape the framing of the issue.
    • The search for scientific bases, without understanding the societal issues and driving values, to address water issues make these problems complex because the underlying policy issues cannot be definitively described or separated from political context.
    • Differences in socio-economic context and natural settings lead to different outcomes for similar water management intervention and these outcomes are not always predictable.
    • Many water problems are the result of competition, interaction, and feedback among Natural (water quantity, quality, and ecosystems) and Societal (economy, social values and political norms, and governance) Domain (NSD) variables that cannot be treated independently from each other.
  • Water, as a limited resource, lends itself to destructive conflicts over its division;
    • A synthesis of explicit (scientific water information from natural domain) and tacit (contextual water information from societal domain) knowledge of water is needed to transform fixed water quantity into a flexible resource.

How do we plan to “create” Water Diplomats?

Prepare next generation of water professionals who will create an adaptive and actionable knowledge to resolve water problems through negotiated solutions.

  • Develop the intellectual foundation to integrate knowledge from natural and societal domains through collaborative and continuous learning.
    • Formulation and framing of water problems must recognize that NSD variables are intricately linked.  The NSD framework attempts to synthesize and integrate explicit and tacit water information within a dynamical and evolving context to create reliable, relevant and readily actionable knowledge.
    • Jointly define the problem by integrating knowledge from scientific and engineering disciplines (School of Arts and Science and the School of Engineering) and legal and policy disciplines (The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy).
    • Work with national and international partners to synthesize water information and contextual knowledge by examining real world case studies through the NSD framework.
    • Contribute to AquaPedia, an interactive, searchable, web-based open-access collaborative platform of global water case studies organized around NSD framework.
    • Promote interactive dialogue among producers and users of knowledge to combine disciplinary, contextual, and pragmatic perspectives in exploring negotiated solutions.
  • Generate actionable knowledge and negotiated solutions
    • Conduct field work with guidance from a growing list of national and international partners including Stockholm Environment Institute, South Florida Water Management District, World Bank, Institute of Water and Flood Management, Bangladesh and South Asia Consortium of Interdisciplinary Water Studies.
    • Facilitate sharing and dissemination of knowledge through network of users and producers using Aquapedia as a platform.