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close this book Developing ideas: Issue 5
View the document I. Editorial
View the document 1. Common security
View the document 2. Multi-stakeholder paths to peace
View the document 3.Virtual transparency
View the document 4. Sustainable nations
View the document 5. Water

5. Water

Many people believe water scarcity is the main security issue of the future. The long-standing tensions between Israel and the Arab world are perhaps the most famous of these water tussles. But rest assured, the well of examples runs deep. On the Indian sub-continent, the flow of the Ganges is being disrupted by tree-felling in the Himalayan foothills - and the livelihoods of 300 million Indian farmers downstream hang in the balance, along with the welfare of Bangladesh which is threatened by increased flooding. Other flash-points include the Danube in Europe, the Zambeze and Nile in Africa, the Rio Grande in North America and the Mekong and Indus in Asia. As water resources become increasingly scarce in the face of growing population numbers and increased industrialization, water is becoming a supreme testing ground for the development of common security (see Dl #1). While some see it as a potential peace-building tool, others see water scarcity as creating war. Can Israel and Jordan learn to share their liquid gold? Can nations use multi-stakeholder processes to negotiate international agreements that recognize the rights and responsibilities of all sides, as the USA and Canada did with the Great Lakes, or mainland Europe did with the once-revolting Rhine? In this, the UN Decade for Water, it makes sense to ponder questions like these. Argentina is hosting a conference on Pan-American water concerns this month, and we expect similar meetings will follow on other continents. If recent predictions are any indication, we could be faced with worsening water wars before we know it.

[sink or swim: the next -treat international security challenge?]

Water shock n. to the near future what the 'oil shock' was to the recent past?

Postel, Sandra. Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity. New York: W.W. Norton 1 992 238p.

Rached, Eglal and others, eds. Water Manaqement in Africa and the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities. Ottawa, Ontario: International Development Research Centre, 1996. 294p.

NOT HOT - A Washed Up World

Some water policies are enough to bring tears to your eyes. California needs a good splash in the face to make farmers wake up to the wastefulness of transporting water hundreds of miles over mountains to grow crops in the desert. Water policies that promote thrift among home-owners but ignore the enormous costs of artificial industrial incentives are all wet. And industrial effluents that increase river temperatures and threaten natural fish habitat should really be landing some companies in hot water.

Mega-cities poised for 'water shock' 596/health21 _27974.html

Attacking underlying causes of water conflict in South Africa .html

How Well Has the World Press Covered Common Security Issue ?

Mail & Guardian (South Africa)

It's Time We Took Back Our Water by Eddie Koch October 13, 1995

A thoughtful and considerate analysis of the reasons underlying South Africa's water crisis, with useful lessons for other regions. The writer argues that outdated government policies have made water an even more contested resource than land - and that laissez-faire management should be replaced with greater state control and planning. Otherwise, he cautions, the country's mighty rivers might just as well be sewers.

Maclean's Magazine

China's Challenge by Thomas Homer-Dixon September 4, 1995

A refreshing piece of journalism that analyses China's national security from the rare perspective of the environment. At a time when most press types write about China in the clichéd terms of an 'economic miracle', the author argues that the world's most populous country is more aptly described as a seething cauldron of population pressures, social inequities and resource shortages.

Far Eastern Economic Review

Soldiers and Civilians Vie for Command by Rodney Tasker, J. Mcbeth and Bartil Lintner January 18, 1996

In Asia, military might is slowly giving way to democracy and economic development. The coverage compares the trend in three countries - Burma, Indonesia and Thailand. As generals live out the dying days of once-great army glory, the Review concludes that Chairman Mao's dictum that power grows out of the barrel of a gun is taking on a distinctly dated tone in Asia.

Atlantic Monthly

The Coming Anarchy by Robert D. Kaplan February 1994

An apocalyptic vision of nations under siege by environmental insecurities. If the intention is to shock readers, the article succeeds brilliantly. If the idea is to offer up positive suggestions for avoiding conflict, the piece falls short. Perhaps it is the tone that is odd - still bogged down in old-style ideas of military security.

Time Magazine

Playing the Power Game by Axel Krause May 20, 1996

A perfectly well-written piece of rubbish. The security of Europe is defined solely in terms of its military strength - and its ability to match the USA in pistol-pointing. Chairman Mao's dictum is wholeheartedly endorsed and a "strong, viable European base" is taken to be the obvious goal of any thinking European.

Coverage of water politics in Southern Africa 80/mg/news/oct13 water1.html



Further Readings on Common Security

Buitenkamp, M. and others

Action Plan: Sustainable Netherlands. Amsterdam: Friends of the Earth Netherlands, 1993. 186p.

Explores the practical implications of sustainable development on the national level. Based on the principle that the earth has a limited amount of 'environmental space'.

Canada 21 Council

Canada 21: Canada and Common Security in the Twenty First Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Centre for International Studies, 1994. 85p.

Assesses Canada's international policies and the challenges and opportunities presented by increasing globalization. It examines ways to ensure the security of Canadians and others, details choices and identifies policies for managing common security.

Conca, Ken and others, eds.

Green Planet Blues: Environmental Politics from Stockholm to Rio. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1995. 328p.

Examines the competing visions, values, and interests that shape the international environmental debate and sometimes lead to conflict.

Engelman, Robert and Pamela LeRoy

Sustaining Water: Population and the Future of Renewable Water Supplies. Washington, D.C.: Population Action International, 1993. 56p.

Examines per capita national water availability and use as indicators for a range of likely economic, social and health risks faced by nations with insufficient fresh water. Includes an index of water scarcity based on data from 149 nations.

Lonergan, Stephen C and Brooks, David B.

Watershed: The Role of Fresh Water in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1994. 310p.

Examines the geopolitics of water in the Middle East, the economic importance of water, problems of water supply and water quality and regional conflicts over water.

Sachs, Wolfgang

Global Ecology: a New Arena of Political Conflict. London: Zed Books, 1993. 262p.

Exposes for public scrutiny the new language of the rising breed of environmental professionals and the political conflicts and cultural contradictions looming behind the official discourse on global ecology.

The World Trade Organization & Sustainable Development: An Independent Assessment

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is barely two years old. It will convene its first meeting of the world's trade Ministers in Singapore in December 1996. That meeting will review progress of the implementation of the commitments made in the Uruguay Round. It will also consider the report of its Committee on Trade and Environment.

The idea of sustainable development is also in its youth. Spawned by the Brundtland Commission and the Earth Summit in 1992, sustainable development is included in the preamble to the Uruguay Round Agreement. The Ministerial session seems a good time to review the progress of the WTO in linking trade and sustainable development.

Sustainable development touches on the work of the WTO in many ways, this report deals with the organization as a whole, rather than dwelling solely upon the work of the Committee on Trade and the Environment, the most important body for sustainability within the Organization.

Contact the IISD to order copies of the full length ($14) or summary version ($10). Orders from DI subscribers are entitled to a 20% discount.

See our Trade and Sustainable Development Program work at IISDnet:

Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide: An Introduction to Sustainable Development Planning

With forewords by: Maurice Strong & Elizabeth Dowdeswell

The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide presents the planning elements, methods, and tools being used by local governments to implement the concept of sustainable development in their communities. The 200 page Guide is based on more than five years of experience from cities and towns in all world regions, which have begun the challenging process of integrating planning and action across economic, social, and environmental spheres. By drawing general conclusions from the work that is already underway at the local level, the Guide offers tested, practical advice on how local governments can implement the United Nations' Agenda 21 action plan for sustainable development and the related UN Habitat Agenda.

The Guide outlines five planning elements (partnerships, community-based issue analysis, action planning, implementation and monitoring, and evaluation and feedback) and uses figures, worksheets, case studies, and appendices to help illustrate how different concepts and methods can be applied at the local level A reference list of publications, manuals, and contacts for further information about specific methods or Local Agenda 21 campaigns at the national and regional level is also included.

Price: $35.00 USD ($48.00 CAD)

Available From: ICLEI's World Secretariat City Hall, East Tower, 8th Floor Toronto, ON M5H 2N2


Tel: 1-416-392-1462




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