Blue Peace: Water as an asset for peace

High-level government representatives from Central Asia and West Africa standing in front of a large water pipe.
Government representatives from Central Asia learning methods of peaceful cross-border water cooperation at the Senegal River basin. © SDC

Water will in the future be more important than any other geopolitical resource, including crude oil, with demand set to rise more than 50% by 2030. This will also increase the risk of conflict over water, a vital resource. With the FDFA’s lines of action as part of the Blue Peace initiative, Switzerland is contributing technical and policy solutions to political dialogue in the regions concerned.

Water is crucial to security. It has become a key element not only in the fight against poverty, but also in the context of peace and political stability. Due to demographic growth, economic development, urbanisation, pollution and climate change, this resource, which is limited and unevenly distributed across the globe, is under ever-greater pressure.

Issues relating to water access are causing conflict in several regions of the world. Even greater tensions can arise when water resources are scarce, droughts occur or armed conflict prevents access.

Focus 

Switzerland offers countries its support in managing their water resources more effectively and in reducing tensions between different users (private consumers, the energy industry, agriculture, etc.) at both the national and regional levels. Through the Blue Peace initiative launched in 2010, Switzerland is supporting both cross-border cooperation and national platforms for dialogue on water access issues. Blue Peace is based on the idea that managing water resources around the world fairly and efficiently helps to achieve sustainable peace. Switzerland has extensive experience in promoting dialogue and working out compromises. It also has recognised water management expertise at political level and in relation to academia, the private sector and civil society. In 2015, Switzerland came together with 14 other states to set up the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace. In late 2017, the panel published its recommendations in the final report 'A Matter of Survival'.

'A Matter of Survival', final report of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace

The 'Swiss toolbox'

Switzerland has wide-ranging expertise in the peaceful management of water resources shared with neighbouring countries. As stretches of two major European rivers, the Rhône and the Rhine, flow through the country, and a number of lakes extend across its borders, Switzerland has long experience in transboundary water management and can assist in developing solutions for other parts of the world.

Switzerland has a range of foreign policy instruments to meet the current challenges:

Development cooperation
The SDC works to improve access to water and sanitation and ensure equitable management of water resources.

Humanitarian aid
The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit provides relief in crisis and conflict situations to meet the water needs of the affected populations, and works on preventive measures to minimise the impact of natural disasters such as flooding.

Instruments to ensure human security and promote international law
These are used, for example, to promote dialogue in water-related conflicts.

Bilateral diplomatic relations with states
In countries facing major water and security-related risks, Switzerland systematically addresses these issues.

Bilateral and multilateral

The Swiss toolbox is used both bilaterally and multilaterally. At a bilateral level, for instance, Switzerland's water diplomacy encourages various consumers to cooperate on water management, thus contributing to peaceful societies.

At multilateral level, Switzerland lobbied for the availability and sustainable management of water and for access to sanitation to be included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also plays an active role in discussing the topic of water and security within regional organisations, particularly the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Documents

Current projects

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Blue Peace Central Asia Strengthening of the Regional Institutional Framework for Integrated Water Resources Management in Central Asia

01.09.2014 - 31.12.2020

In response to the explicit demand of the five Central Asian States, and building on over 20 years of cooperation in the field of water, SDC facilitates transboundary water resources cooperation consistent with the Blue Peace approach implemented in the Middle-East and at the global level through the establishment of a High Level Dialogue Platform, the promotion of sustainable water practices as well as capacity building of a new generation of water professionals and champions.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Central Asia
Climate change and environment
Water
Water diplomacy and security
Integrated water resource management (watershed)
meteorological-services
Water sector policy
Water economics (governance, finance, private sector)
WATER AND SANITATION
WATER AND SANITATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
WATER AND SANITATION
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water resources conservation (including data collection)
Meteorological services
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water resources conservation (including data collection)

01.09.2014 - 31.12.2020


CHF 4'880'000



Water Security in the Middle East (Blue Peace)

01.04.2016 - 31.05.2020

In the Middle East, the increasingly precarious situation of water resources demands stronger regional cooperation than ever before. Set against this background, the Blue Peace approach aims at contributing to peace building through combined political and technical dialogues, which are substantiated in concrete regional projects and direct impact activities on the ground. Together with the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) and local partners from academia, international organisations, civil society and private sector, SDC is able to promote policy and concrete solutions for sustainable development serving those threatened by water scarcity and conflict.


Establishment of a Global Hydrometry Support Facility (GHSF) and Innovation Hub

15.07.2015 - 31.12.2019

Reliable hydro-meteorological observations and forecasts are critical to implement better water resources management practices and policies. The proposed project, implemented by the World Meteorologiccial Organization (WMO) and the iMoMo consortium will combine traditional with new and decentralized monitoring approaches based on crowd-sourcing with mobile phones, bringing decision-relevant information faster to the users.

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