New Initiative Calls for Urgent Action on Water and Security

Published: 22 March 2018

The growing demand for fresh water, combined with the erosion of ecosystems, water pollution and climate change, create urgent issues of water scarcity across the globe. Our livelihoods and economies have become extremely vulnerable to water stress. Millions are affected already today by implications of water insecurity, such as loss of income, shortages in food, water and fodder and conflicts about water resources. In poor and fragile contexts, this can heighten social disruption, intensifying conflicts and migration. There is an urgent need to better understand the interrelationship between water and human insecurity and especially to be able to act timely and effectively in order to prevent escalation. Action is an urgent priority for humanitarian, economic and security reasons.

The Water, Peace and Security Initiative (WPSI) was created in 2017 by IHE Delft, World Resources Institute , Deltares and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies with support from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is open for further collaboration and has already extended its collaboration to include Wetlands International, Oregon State University and the Pacific Institute.

The initiative is centered around four essential pillars for action:

1.Understand: Much is still unknown about the links between water and security. WPSI will study water and security pathways, and create a global online tool to identify potential “hotspot areas”. WPSI will also develop rapid assessments to verify and further research threats, and identify possible interventions.
2.Mobilize: Many decision-makers are still unaware of the links between water and security, and the management tools needed to address this problem. WPSI will conduct outreach to global audiences (diplomats, defense and development experts), as well as national governments of developing countries where we identify threats.
3.Learn: WPSI will provide training and capacity-building to help developing countries cope with current and future crises, and avert potential destabilizing conflict and migration.
4.Dialogue: WPSI will convene water dialogues among key stakeholders at both international and sub-national levels, to try to diffuse tensions and pave the way for solutions.

On the 22nd of March on Worldwaterday at the World Water Forum 2018 the consortium shared the information of this Initiative on its objectives, approach and foreseen impact in the presentation ‘Towards maintaining peace and security in a water insecure world’

The role of Deltares

Deltares, as applied research institute on water and subsurface will contribute to this project in three ways. First to analyse satellite data, see for example the Deltares AquaMonitor. Second to develop the global seasonal water shortage forecasting application. And last for the intervention analysis Deltares will conduct more locally detailed analysis using open data to support transparent evidence-based decision-making for water-induced conflict prevention. This will be tested in the Upper Niger and a second case will be determined later in the project.

The way data assist

The models and data that will be developed are meant to support a range of actors – international relief and development organisations, donors and investor, governments and civil society – to engage in timely and adequate action. To ensure that the outcomes meet the information needs, we will engage directly with many potential end users, and invite interested parties to contact us.

Next steps

First results of the WPSI will be presented during World Water Week in Stockholm 26 – 31 August 2018, with the explicit aim of receiving early feedback from end users to guide the further development in the years 2018 and 2019.