Our team members do research on peripheral thematics to science diplomacy, such as water diplomacy:

Regulating water security at the borders of India and Pakistan (Aditya Kaushik)

Please download the entire paper here: https://scidiplo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/IndiaPakistanWaterInsecurity_Capstone.pdf

This document is a policy report that examines the growing water insecurity problem at the borders of India and Pakistan from negotiation and governance perspectives and offers possible solutions. Rapid economic development through the construction of irrigation infrastructure and population growth has hampered the distribution of water supply. Overexploitation of water resources coupled with climate change impacts such as melting of glaciers and irregular monsoons, has posed a serious environmental security challenge to both countries. As the Indus issue affects over a billion people, there is a fear that these recent developments can trigger a conflict between the two nations. The Indus basin is also seen as a key strategic interest as its headwaters originate from Kashmir which is a region of dispute. Lack of trust between the two nations due to historical and political reasons has proven to be a huge roadblock for successful water negotiations in recent times.

The report analyzes the current water insecurity problem by delving into historical and political reasons that has been a driving factor in harboring mistrust between the two nations. It finds that the growing mistrust is bolstered by the two nations’ approach of a zero sum game in water negotiations and non-inclusion of all relevant stakeholders. The report further attempts to analyze the current transboundary water governance structure by exploring the existing platforms of governance and their interactions amongst each other. It finds that the existing governance mechanism is heavily focused robust dispute resolution mechanisms which have been successful in resolving disputes and differences. However, it finds that the disputes are growing over the years and the nature of top down water governance structure is not suitable in handling current problems related to climate change, overexploitation of water resources, pollution and increased demand. The report uses the Indus water treaty, newspaper articles and research papers as source of data to analyze the problem at hand. Based on the analysis, the report concludes that there is a mismatch in how the two countries frame the water issue and that the top down focus on transboundary water governance is limiting, does not promote cooperation and thus prevents effective addressing of the current problems.

Drawing on the conclusion from the analysis, the report recommends addressing the water security problem at the borders of India and Pakistan through the lens of the Water Diplomacy Framework. That is to recognize that a natural resource like water crosses various domains and scales. It intersects natural, political and social domains at spatial, temporal, judicial and institutional scales. A mere top down approach of transboundary water negotiations at the nation state level may not be a sustainable approach to address this issue. The main recommendations include – 1. A multilevel approach that balances the existing top down structure with a participatory governance structure at the local level. Thus encouraging different platforms of collaborations starting at a local level such as inclusion of indigenous voices, and at an academic levels in order to undertake a joint fact finding missions to provide expert level options. These discussions at lower and lateral levels are necessary to inform dialogues at the nation state level. 2. Using a multilateral forum such as SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) to address the common problem of water deficit, pollution, climate change impacts through collaborative programs in the form of information and technology exchange.