Developing a global knowledge network for water risk management

Water plums on hydroelectric power station

The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Risks report ranked water crises among the highest risks with global impact. Water is essential for public health, food security, energy, and ecosystem services. This vital resource is facing unprecedented challenges, and is more and more linked to insecurity at local, regional and global scale; this is illustrated by growing tensions around large dams, mining operations and various disputes over land and water. Despite the complexity of the challenges, water can become a theme for collaboration and can be transformed from a source of potential crisis into an instrument of peacebuilding.

Against this backdrop, Switzerland is engaged in global water issues in partnership with several UN organisations, bilateral partners and NGOs, to help prevent water conflicts at an early stage and to promote water as an instrument of peace and cooperation. To this end, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is supporting the establishment of a hub of competence in hydropolitics to promote water cooperation and good governance. The Geneva Water Hub will connect and bring together international think tanks as well as UN and non-UN institutions and agencies, to strengthen advocacy on the global theme of water, security and peace. Furthermore, the Geneva Water Hub will develop the hydropolitics agenda to better understand and prevent water-related tensions between competing uses, between public and private actors, and between political entities and countries.

adelphi supported SDC in the development of the Geneva Water Hub as a new global knowledge network on water risk management. To this end, adelphi provided conceptual support and advice on designing this networking facility, including input on elaborating the overall function and communication of the Water Hub, on advancing the think tank and knowledge components, and on the establishment of a High-level Panel on Water and Peace. Moreover, adelphi provided backstopping support for a number of initiatives of the GWH, in particular its work with the High-Level Panel on Water and Peace. These took the shape of written and oral inputs to the High-level Panel’s roundtable discussions and their documentation.