IWRA Webinar – N°33

Power and Water Diplomacy
26 August 2020 

This webinar, focusing on Water and Power Diplomacy, was based on Water International’s Special Issue on “Power in Water Diplomacy”.

Invited panellists focused mainly on the role of decision making or non-decision making in river basin conflict and management. They highlighted, for instance, how in cycles of conflict and cooperation actors use different strategies and tactics, such as their geographical position to control the decision making process. In this manner, the ‘art of diplomacy’ can be understood as a means to maintain the status quo. Other presentations explored ways that language and communication become a means by which power is produced and control exerted. This might include reframing and understanding diplomacy in a broader process of persuasion. Some panellists highlighted also the challenges for basin level cooperation in relation to the structure and requirements of formal dialogues and negotiations, which may turn to be more complex and be influenced by other issues, including domestic politics. Ultimately, it was agreed, these challenges may be addressed by a bottom-up approach.

Other interesting discussions addressed ways that formal water cooperation, for example in Central America, can include formal agreements and instruments, as well as government and non-governmental actors. Finally, the pushes for diplomacy and how they may be locking in conflict and the status quo, rather than transcending and looking for more equitable and sustainable solutions, were analyzed. Seeking and addressing factors, such as destructive cooperation, were pointed as means to help break out this conflict and status quo.

With over 220 registered attendees, the Power and Water Diplomacy webinar was a very successful event. IWRA again thanks its panellists for their participation and engagement: Anamika Barua, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati, India; Carmen Maganda Ramírez, Instituto de Ecología – INECOL, Mexico; Sumit Vij, Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; Jeroen Warner, Sociology of Development and Change Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; Mark Zeitoun, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK. This webinar was presented by Scott McKenzie, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia.

Click in the presentations titles below to access them:


The Challenge of Sustainability of Engineered Rivers in Arid Lands
23 September 
Policy to Support Water Reuse Technologies
21 October
World Toilet Day 2020
19 November
Agricultural Water Reuse: Challenges and Opportunities
16 December

Stay tuned for more info and details soon…