A group of 15 countries from all parts of the world launched Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace at a ministerial gathering in Geneva on 16th November 2015. The mandate of the panel is to propose global architecture to transform water from a source of potential crisis to an instrument of cooperation and peace.
Dr Danilo Turk, former President of Slovenia, is the Chairman of the panel. Mr Mansour Faye, Minister of Water and Sanitation of Senegal and Chairman of African Ministers Council on Water, as well as Dr. Alvaro Umaña Quesada, former Minister of Energy and Environment of Costa Rica, are the two Vice Chairmen of the High Level Panel. The 15 Co-convening Countries are: Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Estonia, France, Ghana, Hungary, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Oman, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland. United Nations Water, which coordinates the work of all UN Agencies in the water sector, is the Observer. Geneva Water Hub is the Secretariat of the Panel.
Switzerland and Strategic Foresight Group have cooperated to establish the panel in a unique partnership between a sovereign state in the West and intellectual capital from the Global South. Over the last two years, representatives of Switzerland and Strategic Foresight Group held world-wide consultations to examine the need and modus operandi of a mechanism to create positive linkages between water and peace the world over. Strategic Foresight Group will help the High Level Panel in developing political and substantive recommendations.
Didier Burkhalter, Foreign Minister of Switzerland said at the launch event:
Convening the high level panel that we are launching today is another milestone in Switzerland's engagement for water and peace. The task of this Panel will be to develop a set of proposals aimed at strengthening the global architecture to prevent and resolve water-related conflicts and to facilitate the use of water for building peace.
There are many facets to this issue. Among the
Panes tasks, we propose that it:
- identify economic and financial mechanisms to incentivise multi-sectoral and transboundary water cooperation;
- examine how to prevent and cope with water-related conflict, possibly exploring potential mechanisms to promote hydro-diplomacy;
- promote effective implementation of the global water conventions;
- and promote tangible best practices in water cooperation at basin level.
Sundeep Waslekar, President of Strategic Foresight Group said at the launch event:
The work of the Panel will be relevant to 2.3 billion people living in the shared river basins of the developing world with a gross economic output of 10 trillion dollars per year. The Water Cooperation Quotient, released a few weeks ago by the Strategic Foresight Group, demonstrates that any two countries engaged in active water cooperation do not go to war for any other reason. Therefore, if the Panel proposes an architecture that can be embraced by all shared river basins in the world advancing cooperation, it will reduce the risk of war and the need for military expenditure in poor parts of the world. We can safely assume that a peace dividend of a few hundred billion dollars will be generated.
The Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace is expected to meet a few times in the Co-convening countries over the next two years and consult with stakeholders from other countries and multilateral and regional organisations in the course of its work. It is expected to produce a report and submit it to the UN system and the international community by December 2017.
Members of the Global High Level Panel
Dr. Danilo Turk, former President of the Republic, Slovenia
Mr. Mansour Faye, Minister of Water and Hydraulics, Senegal
Dr. Alvaro Umaña Quesada, former Minister of Energy and Environment, Costa Rica
His Royal Highness Prince Hassan bin Talal, Jordan
Mr. Andres Tarand, former Prime Minister, Estonia
Mr. Yerlan Nyssanbayev, Vice-Minister of Ministry of Agriculture, Kazakhstan
Mr. Mike Allen Hammah, former Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Ghana
Dr. Pascual Fernández, former State Secretary for Water and Seashore, Spain
Dr. Claudia Patricia Mora, former Vice Minister for Water and Sanitation, Colombia
Mr. Aziz Bouignane, Director of the Moulouya River Basin, Morocco
Prof. Andras Szöllösi-Nagy, former Rector of UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Hungary
Mr. Ciarán O Cuinn, Centre Director of Middle East Desalination Research Centre, Oman
Mr. Franck Galland, Managing Director of Environmental Emergency & Security Services, France
Prof. Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Professor of Law at University of Geneva, Switzerland
Mr. Thor Chetha, Secretary of State of Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, Cambodia (acting on an interim basis, nominee to be announced)