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“The age of hydro-diplomacy is upon us”, stated Jan Eliasson, former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2015.1 Hydro-diplomacy (also known as water diplomacy) is on the rise as a field of endeavour dealing with conflict over the most precious resource of all, water. The pressure on the resource is increasing, many transboundary streams are still left without frameworks for joint management, while planned hydraulic infrastructure risks stir passions over water. Climate variability adds a new, complicating, dimension to these dynamics. Hydro-diplomacy is also increasingly the topic of research, trying to understand the processes and tools to promote water cooperation, or benefit from water’s unique characteristics in promoting cooperation in other sectors.
Empowering hydro-diplomacy is about understanding the processes informing and shaping diplomatic, or related, interactions concerning shared waters at multiple levels. These discussions will inform how hydrodiplomacy is done, which failures can be learned from, which successes to celebrate, and which dynamics to be mindful of. An analysis of practices that goes to the root of the issues may bring new, practical angles on how to put power to work in water diplomacy.
The need to empower hydro-diplomacy inspires several questions, discussing and challenging the process:
In this conference, researchers, students and practitioners are invited to share new insights and experiences on what shapes hydrodiplomacy through experiences, case studies and research.