Water and security: a call for action

March 21st 2018 - 09:58

Kick off of Water, Peace and Security

The growing demand for fresh water, combined with the erosion of ecosystems, water pollution and climate change, create urgent issues of water scarcity across the globe. Our livelihoods and economies have become extremely vulnerable to water stress. Millions are affected already today by implications of water insecurity, such as loss of income, shortages in food, water and fodder and conflicts about water resources. In poor and fragile contexts, this can heighten social disruption, intensifying conflicts and migration. There is an urgent need to better understand the interrelationship between water and human insecurity and especially to be able to act timely and effectively in order to prevent escalation. Action is an urgent priority for humanitarian, economic and security reasons.

Water, Peace and Security 

Water, Peace and Security was created in 2017 by IHE Delft, World Resources Institute (WRI), Deltares and The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) with support from the Netherlands' Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is open for further collaboration and has already extended its collaboration to include Wetlands International, Oregon State University and the Pacific Institute.

The initiative consists of four areas of work pillars;

  1. Understanding: increase our understanding about the interrelationship between water and human security and on basis of this, develop powerful information tools for action. This will consist of a global online tool that will monitor the vulnerability of countries and regions for water related security threats and act as an early warning tool. For identified “hotspot areas” of potential security risk, the WPSI will develop tools for informed decision making and action as well as intervention analysis.
  2. Mobilizing: Build political awareness, momentum and exchange knowledge, to mobilize effective action.
  3. Learning: build capacities required to address vulnerabilities linked to water-induced security threats.
  4. Strengthening the dialogue: Strengthen processes of peaceful conflict resolution through water diplomacy, mediation, dialogue and by using the rule of law.

On the 22nd of March 2018 at the World Water Forum 2018, the consortium will share the information of this Initiative on its objectives, approach and foreseen impact in the presentation ‘Towards maintaining peace and security in a water insecure world.’

The role of HCSS

The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies will contribute to identifying global hotspots as well as taking a closer, in-depth look at selected cases. HCSS brings in the subject matter expertise regarding conflicts and unrest, tracking events on the ground, as well as the social, economic, political and demographic situation of different countries and regions. We also contribute to building the indexes and models, identifying pathways and causal relations, and visualizations of the work. We will build on previous work in early warning for conflicts as well as our expertise on resources and planetary security.

The way data assists:

The models and data that will be developed are meant to support a range of actors – international relief and development organizations, donors and investors, governments and civil society – to engage in timely and adequate action. To ensure that the outcomes meet the information needs, we will engage directly with many potential end users, and invite interested parties to contact us.

Next steps:

The first results of WPS will be presented during World Water Week in Stockholm on 26 – 31 August 2018, with the explicit aim of receiving early feedback from end users to guide further development in the years 2018 and 2019.

Michel Rademaker is the deputy Director of HCSS. He has fifteen years of hands-on experience as an officer in The Royal Netherlands Army, where he held various military operational and staff posts and also served a term in former Yugoslavia. He has a masters degree obtained at the University of Tilburg. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Rademaker went on to work at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) as a project and program manager and senior policy advisor on security topics for ten years. Eg. as NATO RTO project leader, he and his team developed serious gaming assessment methods and conducted several assessments of security technologies, and worked on numerous strategic security topics.