Moving beyond the “water wars” frame

To speak of ‘war’ is to invoke images of militaries, violent conflict and destruction on a grand scale. Although we do not deny that water can be a factor – one among many – in some conflicts and mainly at intra-state level, we question why this drift towards water ‘securitisation’ at this time? To align ‘water’ with war is without doubt worrying, for water is an essential and non-substitutable resource needed by all. But to suggest that inter-state water wars are forthcoming is to ignore or undervalue decades of cooperative action. What is being argued here is in support of a more nuanced approach, that is both more evidence-based and constructive, highlighting the many varied and overwhelmingly positive efforts at an international level in support of cooperation within complex shared river basins. Ultimately, we believe that transboundary water cooperation is primarily a development issue and one that should remain in that space.

Why are water wars back on the agenda? And why we think it’s a bad idea! – by Ana Elisa Cascão and many colleagues at the Water Governance Chair Group at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands


  1. The growth paradigm is so deeply rooted that reversing the disastrous trends may be impossible. Corporations caging their own resources in not a solution. Our southwest is the same. People are going to suffer and die in huge numbers.

    People talk about ranchers “voluntarily” fallowing their fields. Stop and think: this is what ranchers and farmers do for a living.

    Let’s try this:
    1. All of you water experts send in your notice that you are taking the next year off; without pay.
    2. All jurisdictions in Colorado Basin will pass moratoriums on all development; right now. Indefinitely.
    3. All adults of reproductive age will be sterilized immediately.
    4. All jurisdictions will pass rationing of all fossil fuels. The rationed amount will decrease year by year.
    5. No fossil fuel powered vehicles may be sold or licensed.
    I could go on.

    So far, no one is getting serious about the “problem”.

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