Blue Peace: Water as an asset for peace

High-level government representatives from Central Asia and West Africa standing in front of a large water pipe.
Government representatives from Central Asia learning methods of peaceful cross-border water cooperation at the Senegal River basin. © SDC

Water will in the future be more important than any other geopolitical resource, including crude oil, with demand set to rise more than 50% by 2030. This will also increase the risk of conflict over water, a vital resource. With the FDFA’s lines of action as part of the Blue Peace initiative, Switzerland is contributing technical and policy solutions to political dialogue in the regions concerned.

Water is crucial to security. It has become a key element not only in the fight against poverty, but also in the context of peace and political stability. Due to demographic growth, economic development, urbanisation, pollution and climate change, this resource, which is limited and unevenly distributed across the globe, is under ever-greater pressure.

Issues relating to water access are causing conflict in several regions of the world. Even greater tensions can arise when water resources are scarce, droughts occur or armed conflict prevents access.

Focus 

Switzerland offers countries its support in managing their water resources more effectively and in reducing tensions between different users (private consumers, the energy industry, agriculture, etc.) at both the national and regional levels. Through the Blue Peace initiative launched in 2010, Switzerland is supporting both cross-border cooperation and national platforms for dialogue on water access issues. Blue Peace is based on the idea that managing water resources around the world fairly and efficiently helps to achieve sustainable peace. Switzerland has extensive experience in promoting dialogue and working out compromises. It also has recognised water management expertise at political level and in relation to academia, the private sector and civil society. In 2015, Switzerland came together with 14 other states to set up the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace. In late 2017, the panel published its recommendations in the final report 'A Matter of Survival'.

'A Matter of Survival', final report of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace

The 'Swiss toolbox'

Switzerland has wide-ranging expertise in the peaceful management of water resources shared with neighbouring countries. As stretches of two major European rivers, the Rhône and the Rhine, flow through the country, and a number of lakes extend across its borders, Switzerland has long experience in transboundary water management and can assist in developing solutions for other parts of the world.

Switzerland has a range of foreign policy instruments to meet the current challenges:

Development cooperation
The SDC works to improve access to water and sanitation and ensure equitable management of water resources.

Humanitarian aid
The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit provides relief in crisis and conflict situations to meet the water needs of the affected populations, and works on preventive measures to minimise the impact of natural disasters such as flooding.

Instruments to ensure human security and promote international law
These are used, for example, to promote dialogue in water-related conflicts.

Bilateral diplomatic relations with states
In countries facing major water and security-related risks, Switzerland systematically addresses these issues.

Bilateral and multilateral

The Swiss toolbox is used both bilaterally and multilaterally. At a bilateral level, for instance, Switzerland's water diplomacy encourages various consumers to cooperate on water management, thus contributing to peaceful societies. In addition to Central Asia and the Middle East, Switzerland is also carrying out activities in this field in Africa, and more specifically Sub-Saharan Africa, a priority region for Switzerland's international cooperation.

At multilateral level, Switzerland lobbied for the availability and sustainable management of water and for access to sanitation to be included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also plays an active role in discussing the topic of water and security within regional organisations, particularly the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Documents

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 19

Blue Peace: Unlocking the value of transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments

01.07.2023 - 31.12.2029

In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals government efforts do not suffice, large private capitals deployed towards development are needed. Switzerland has a comparative advantage as innovative finance hub. Building on this, SDC contributes to the development of innovative financial products that enable transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments with aim to contribute to sustainable development and peace.


Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation Management

01.03.2022 - 28.02.2026

The project will allow people to use safe and affordable drinking water as well as equitable sanitation and hygiene thereby progressing towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 in Tajikistan. An integrated planning approach supports the building of the local and national capacities and strengthen the policy frameworks to enable sustainable Water Sanitation and Hygiene WASH services to the population of Eastern Khatlon and Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO).


Dam Safety Technical and Institutional Assistance in Lao PDR (DSTIA)

01.05.2021 - 31.03.2026

Following the Swiss support to the Nationwide Emergency Dam Safety Inspection, the Lao Government requested a longer-term Swiss support in strengthening the national dam safety regulatory and institutional frameworks. By increasing government’s law enforcement and technical capacities to international standards, the project will ensure better protection for downstream communities, estimated in 1,5 million people, and contribute to safe energy production and the sustainability of infrastructure.


Financing Basin Development at Municipal Level (Localized Blue Peace)

15.02.2021 - 31.12.2024

Whit this contribution, Switzerland catalyses the set-up of a technical assistance facility, managed by the United Nations Capital Development Fund. Based on Swiss experience, municipalities in developing countries are supported in managing innovative water-related multi-sector projects in the context of wider basin development (localized Blue Peace). Inclusive economic development based on a self-sustaining financing model will be enhanced.


Mekong River Commission (MRC) – Contribution to the basket fund for the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2021-2025

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2025

The Mekong River Commission is the only treaty-based intergovernmental organisation for the Mekong River Basin with a clear mandate for integrated water resources management, procedures and tools to support equitable use of water and address transboundary issues. Switzerland with its experience in water diplomacy and management contributes to the implementation of the new Basin Development Strategy (2021-2030) and Strategic Plan (2021-2025) through the multi-donor Basket Fund. 


El Agua Nos Une – Water Stewardship “United for Water

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2025

Based on Switzerland’s decade long experience on private sector engagement and empowerment of public institutions, “El Agua Nos Une” focuses on strengthening evidence-based decisions for better water governance in 4 Latin American countries. It envisions systemic change towards corporate water use efficiency and pollution mitigation, mobilizing stakeholders and investments in ecosystem preservation; contributing to a more equitable society and responsible water use.


IWGP - Inclusive Water Governance Project in Mekong Region

01.10.2020 - 30.06.2024

Through this project, Switzerland will support civil society organisations, women and vulnerable communities to better influence water resource governance and decision-making processes at all levels in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The Swiss knowhow in transboundary water governance and citizen participation shall leverage more inclusive, transparent and accountable infrastructure development that better responds to the needs of vulnerable riverine communities and improve their livelihood.


Contribution to the Geneva Water Hub: a springboard in Geneva for the Global Blue Peace movement

01.08.2020 - 31.07.2023

The Geneva Water Hub (GWH) is a global centre working towards the prevention and solving of water-related tensions and conflicts, and the promotion of stability through water cooperation. It produces innovative knowledge and provides scientific networking for various actors to be used in decision-making processes. It also offers a space for dialogue and a global observatory for water and peace. The SDC contribution to the GWH aims at spearheading the Blue Peace movement, embodying two recognized competences of Switzerland: water expertise and peace mediation.



Water Security Middle East (Blue Peace)

01.02.2019 - 31.12.2022

In the Middle East, the dire situation of water resources demands stronger regional cooperation than ever before. The Blue Peace Middle East Initiative is the only regional platform engaging six countries around water issues. Together with its partners from academia, international organisations, civil society and the private sector, Switzerland is able to promote policy and concrete solutions for serving the most vulnerable populations leading to sustainable development and peace building. Stability in the region is in the interest of Switzerland.


Contribution to the International Secretariat for Water (ISW) - Solidarity Water Europe (SWE)

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2023

The International Secretariat for Water (ISW) supports and empowers civil society and youth to be active, recognized and credible stakeholders in decision-making around water and sanitation. It is recognized for its holistic and participatory approach involving wide networks of partners, including numerous Swiss-based organisations. The contribution aims to strengthen the strategic partnership with ISW in order to remain an efficient and innovative advocate for civil society and youth.


Transboundary waters governance for Sustainable Development and Blue Peace

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022

With increasing tensions around the rarefication of water, Switzerland, with its central position within the European continent, has chosen the path of regional water cooperation. This programme relies on the synergistic expertise of three international partners. It endorses the approach that increasing regional dialogue and fostering joint management and financing for the shared water resources contributes to socio-economic development and regional stability in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Object 1 – 12 of 19