Peace and Water: GOWP brief calls for urgent rethinking of approach to water management

2 Mar 2023 by The Water Diplomat

The Global Observatory for Water and Peace (GOWP) has released a brief ahead of the upcoming United Nations Mid-Term Review Conference in March 2023, highlighting the urgent need to fundamentally rethink the global approach to water as a vehicle of peace, rather than as an end in itself.

“The global water crisis is a multi-dimensional and complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach. Water scarcity, pollution, and inadequate infrastructure are major challenges affecting many countries, particularly in developing regions. These issues are further compounded by climate change, which exacerbates water scarcity and increases the risk of extreme weather events,” the brief stressed.

According to the brief, there is need for stronger governance frameworks that prioritize equity, social justice, and the human right to water. It also highlights the importance of engaging with marginalized communities, indigenous peoples, and civil society organizations in all stages of the decision-making process. This requires a shift towards more participatory and inclusive processes that take into account the diverse perspectives and experiences of all stakeholders.

Furthermore, the brief stresses need for an integrated approach to water management that takes into account the complex interconnections between water, energy, food, and the environment. This approach must also be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, to ensure that no one is left behind.

“We need more investments in sustainable water infrastructure, including improving water storage, distribution, and treatment systems. This requires a combination of public and private investments and partnerships. Similarly, there is need for better data and information systems to support evidence-based decision-making. This includes monitoring and evaluating water use, quality, and availability, as well as tracking progress towards the SDGs and other water-related targets and international cooperation and partnerships to address the global water crisis. This includes sharing knowledge, best practices, and technologies, as well as supporting capacity building and technical assistance in developing countries.”

In the same vein, the brief emphasizes the five main themes of the interactive dialogues, which include access to WASH, water for sustainable development, water for climate resilience and environment, water for trans-boundary cooperation, and implementation of the objectives of the Water Action Decade through the UN Secretary-General's Action Plan.

The GOWP maintains that peace should remain at the core of the United Nations' activities. The report highlights that governments endorsing the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 recognized that there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development. The report emphasizes the urgent need to consider the peace aspects related to water to solve the global and local water puzzle.

Moreover, to achieve the transformational change needed to address the global water crisis, political will and international cooperation are crucial. The upcoming United Nations Mid-Term Review Conference presents a unique opportunity for governments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to come together and commit to a shared vision for sustainable and equitable water management. “By working together, we can ensure that water is no longer a source of conflict, but a driver of peace and prosperity for all.”