Water Diplomacy in Action

TitleWater Diplomacy in Action
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsIslam, S, Madani, K

Today we face an incredibly complex array of interconnected water issues that cross multiple boundaries: Is water a property or a human right? How do we prioritize between economic utility and environmental sustainability? Do fish have more rights to water than irrigated grain? Can we reconcile competing cultural and religious values associated with water? How much water do people actually need? These questions share two key defining characteristics: (a) competing values, interests and information to frame the problem; and (b) differing views - of how to resolve a problem - are related more to uncertainty and ambiguity of perception than accuracy of scientific information.

These problems - known as complex problems - are ill-defined, ambiguous, and often associated with strong moral, political and professional values and issues. For complex water problems, certainty of solutions and degree of consensus varies widely. In fact, there is often little consensus about what the problem is, let alone how to resolve it. Furthermore, complex problems are constantly changing because of interactions among the natural, societal and political forces involved. The nature of complexity is contingent on a variety of contextual characteristics of the interactions among variables, processes, actors, and institutions. Understanding interactions and feedback loops between and within human and natural systems is critical for managing complex water problems. [NP] This edited volume synthesizes insights from theory and practice to address complex water problems through contingent and adaptive management using water diplomacy framework (WDF). This emerging framework diagnoses water problems, identifies intervention points, and proposes sustainable solutions that are sensitive to diverse viewpoints and uncertainty as well as changing and competing needs. The WDF actively seeks value-creation opportunities by blending science, policy, and politics through a contingent negotiated approach.

Contingent Approaches to Managing Complex Water Problems


Science Diplomacy: Managing Food, Energy and Water Sustainably