Updating the International Water Events Database

By Lucia De Staefano, Lynette de Silva, Paris Edwards and Aaron T. Wolf, Program for Water Conflict Management and Transformation, Oregon State University, for UNESCO-PCCP

Side publications Series, Dialogue Paper

This paper describes the use of event data in the assessment of hydropolitical relations, and investigates reported events of conflict and co-operation in relation to international water resources over the last 60 years. Two specific periods – 1948–1999 and 2000–2008 – are compared and assessed for trends in international hydropolitics. In many respects, the trends of the first period have continued into the first eight years of this century. Notably, and counter to both prevailing wisdom and popular headlines, co-operation between riparian nations continues to far outweigh conflict. This is now the case even in the contentious Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region, representing a shift from an earlier period. The two most difficult issues continue to be infrastructure and water quantity. Positive areas continue to be joint management, flood control and technical co-operation, and the geography of conflict and co-operation remains relatively stable, with a mild increase in the importance of North America. Noteworthy changes include the increasing importance of water quality issues and, while not documented through our methodology, a flurry of activity on transboundary groundwater.

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