UN: Water is “a catalyst” for collaboration, and not for conflict

Left to right: Secretary-General António Guterres and President Evo Morales Ayma of Bolivia at the meeting on Maintenance of International Pease and Security; Preventive Diplomacy and Transboundary waters. Photo credit UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Secretary-General António Guterres emphasised the importance of the role diplomacy plays in the prevention and resolution of trans-boundary disputes over finite water resources to the United Nations (UN) Security Council during the meeting on Maintenance of International Pease and Security; Preventive Diplomacy and Trans-boundary waters, chaired by President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, which holds the Council’s presidency for the month.

Guterres said that water is “a catalyst” for collaboration and cooperation among nations, even those who are not on good terms with each other.

“Water, peace and security are inextricably linked,” Guterres added. “I commend this Security Council meeting for highlighting how water is and should remain a reason for cooperation not conflict.”

With the increasing impact of climate change and rising water scarcity, Guterres noted, by 2050, at least one in four people will reside in a nation where the dearth of fresh water is either chronic or recurrent.

While there are over 270 internationally shared river basins, which are primary sources of water for an estimated 40 per cent of the global population, three-quarters of UN Member States share lake basins or rivers with their neighbours. These water sources include the Euphrates-Tigris, the Indus, and the Nile, among others.

“That is why it is essential that nations cooperate to ensure water is shared equitably and used sustainably,” he said.

287 international water agreements were inked and signed in the second half of the 20th century alone.

For instance, the 1960 Indus Water Treaty upheld by India and Pakistan has remained even with three wars between the two nations.

The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes were opened to all UN Member States in March 2016, offering an unequalled opportunity to create and develop a global framework and network for preventative diplomacy for addressing transboundary water issues.

Guterres concluded, “Let us commit to investing in water security to ensure durable peace and security for all communities and nations.”


Source: United Nations News Centre