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.

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 13 – 18 of 18

Global Blue Peace: Le Pôle Eau de Genève pour l’eau, la paix et la sécurité

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2020

Le Pôle Eau de Genève – Geneva Water Hub (GWH) regroupe les capacités centrales pour l’hydrodiplomatie au sein de la Genève internationale. En s’appuyant sur ses trois composantes (savoir & éducation, think tank, réseau), le GWH agit comme Secrétariat du Panel Global de Haut Niveau pour l’Eau et la Paix (7F-09770.01) et de son groupe d’amis. L’objectif de cette seconde phase est de poursuivre les réalisations du GWH pour l’hydrodiplomatie ainsi que de procéder à son institutionnalisation.


Central Asia : Water Accountability in Transboundary Chu and Talas River Basins

15.12.2016 - 31.12.2020

Effective water resources management requires data management capacities for proper decision-making at different scales. In this context, a modern, Multi-Level Distributed Water Information Systems is a management instrument that provides stakeholders’ gateways for judicious and sustainable water resources management. The project is aiming at introducing such a modern management information system in transboundary Chu and Talas river basins to improve water accountability and transparency.


Water Security in the Middle East (Blue Peace)

01.04.2016 - 31.05.2020

In the Middle East, the increasingly precarious situation of water resources demands stronger regional cooperation than ever before. Set against this background, the Blue Peace approach aims at contributing to peace building through combined political and technical dialogues, which are substantiated in concrete regional projects and direct impact activities on the ground. Together with the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) and local partners from academia, international organisations, civil society and private sector, SDC is able to promote policy and concrete solutions for sustainable development serving those threatened by water scarcity and conflict.


SuizAgua América Latina - El Agua nos Une

Fabricato - industrial water treatment and reuse plant

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2020

Water management being one of the main challenges of the 21st century, the generation of knowledge to make decisions and collaboration between different sectors; are the axis of the present and future well-being of humanity. The initiative “El Agua Nos Une” articulates the work of public institutions, business associations and research organisations. It aims at: i) scaling corporate water stewardship in Colombia; ii) strengthening knowledge on water uses, particularly in the agricultural sector; iii) contributing to the national water quality and quantity monitoring program; iv) developing an investment scheme in ecosystem services; and; v) facilitating a community of practice on water footprint and corporate water management in Latin America


Establishment of a Global Hydrometry Support Facility (GHSF) and Innovation Hub

15.07.2015 - 31.12.2019

Reliable hydro-meteorological observations and forecasts are critical to implement better water resources management practices and policies. The proposed project, implemented by the World Meteorologiccial Organization (WMO) and the iMoMo consortium will combine traditional with new and decentralized monitoring approaches based on crowd-sourcing with mobile phones, bringing decision-relevant information faster to the users.


National Water Resources Management in Kyrgyzstan

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2019

Water resources management remains ineffective in the Kyrgyz Republic, but the Water Code based on of Integrated Water Resources Management principles and adopted in 2005, provides stewardship for improved water resources governance and management. However the government lacks technical capacity and financial resources to implement the code. The project will assist the country in strengthening and improving water resources management capability and irrigation service delivery for the benefit of water users by enforcement of the water code.

Object 13 – 18 of 18