Friday, 21 August 2009

WORLD WATER WEEK, FRI: WATER ACROSS BORDERS

By Julia Day

Delegates arrived today slightly weary from a week of networking (or last evening's Royal Banquet festivities with Sweden's Orlando Bloom-alike Prince). Nonetheless it is a good turnout for the closing plenary, which is attempting to sum up the key messages emerging from World Water Week.

Managing water across borders was one of the key themes this week. The politcal and economic trade-offs involved in transboundary water management and the difficulties in sahring the benfits 'beyond the river' were discussed in several sessions.

Water flows 'uphill' ,towards the power-brokers, therefore tranfer 'downhill'is needed, the increased reach of legal conventions may help, some sessions concluded, meanwhile negotiation needed to be separated from cooperation.

Some opportunities for progress in this areas were pinpointed, including leveraging the interest in climate change ro promote water issues, and consider the interaction of hyro and carbon cycles.

The potential of thrid parties to gather data and mediate was expresssed, while virtual water and food trade was mooted as a partial solution for water resource management. The use of technology was stressed, for instance,the ability of improved treatment technolgies for making unvconventional water resources more readily available.

Howver the obstacles to progress in this area are numerous, according to the what was discussed in session this week. Limited access to data, the gap between theory and practice, inadequate basin-wide processes, unfair distribution of water costs, power asymmetry, gaps in institutional infrastructure were just some among the challenegs presented.

But innovative and grounded approaches can be trialled, it was concluded. Alternative financial sources within basins could be saught; the role of techonolgy in conflict resolution could be investigated, such as desalination in the Middle East.Bottom-up appraoches were advocated as was investment in training and capacity-building and not giving up on proven methods.

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