Stockholm International Water Institute

High Level Panel on Water Diplomacy

Monday 27 August | 14.00-15.30 | Room: NL Auditorium

The High Level Panel on Water Diplomacy will elevate discussion around the role of shared water resources as a tangible entry point for sustained dialogue and conflict prevention in regions prone to political tensions and armed violence. Despite sensationalist mainstream media characterizations around ‘impending water wars’, the available evidence suggests discussion and management of shared water resources leads more often to cooperative efforts rather than conflict escalation. The Panel will reflect on the evidence base for lessons learnt about cooperation and conflict between riparian countries from diverse water diplomacy processes. Key themes such as how water dialogues benefit riparian countries - technically, socially, environmentally and economically, creating opportunities ‘beyond water’ to enhance mutual understanding; and how the international community can improve efficiencies around its collective actions on water diplomacy to support riparian countries affected by water scarcity, political tensions, and armed violence. The Panel builds on recent reports published by the United Nations and the World Bank (Pathways to Peace) and by the Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace (A Matter of Survival). The Panel will include high level representatives of key multi-lateral institutions and country representatives from regions prone to political tensions, armed violence and water scarcity.


Master of Ceremony
Dr. Therese Sjömander Magnusson, Chief Operating Officer, SIWI  

Introductory remarks  5 min  

Mr. Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, SIWI  

Keynote speech (1) 10 min  

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

Keynote speech (2) 10 min
Dr. Danilo Türk Chairman, Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace/Former President of Slovenia  

Dr. Hassan Janabi, Minister of Water Resources (MoWR), Republic of Iraq

Ms. Adela Raz, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Affairs (MoFA), the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Mr. Mutaz Musa Abdalla Salim, Minister for Water Resources, Irrigation and Electricity, Sudan

Ms. Annika Söder, State Secretary, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sweden

Mr. Henk WJ Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Kingdom of The Netherlands Sherpa to the UN/WB High Level Panel on Water

Panel Moderator - Ms. Maria Vink, Director, Transboundary Water Management Department, SIWI 

Reflections and putting water diplomacy into action 20 min 

Amb. Jan Eliasson,  Chair of the Governing Board, Sipri/Former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations  

Prof. Peter Wallensteen, Senior Professor of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University  


The High Level Panel on Water Diplomacy examined the role of shared water resources as a tangible entry point for sustained dialogue and conflict prevention in regions prone to political tensions and armed violence and explored the potential contributions of the international community to these processes.

The event began with two keynote speeches to set the stage around some of the challenges and opportunities that the United Nations and the international community face to promote water diplomacy as a conflict prevention and conflict resolution mechanism. In her keynote speech, Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, stated that in today’s interconnected world, water availability is directly related to peace and security. She particularly recognized the role of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, or “Water Convention,” as a major tool of the United Nations to strengthen transboundary water cooperation. The full version of the DSG’s speech can be accessed here -  

The second keynote speaker, Danilo Türk, Chairman of the Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace and a former President of Slovenia, emphasized the importance of water agreements as instruments of peace in post-conflict settings, and the need to apply multi-stakeholder approaches in water diplomacy processes. President Türk encouraged further discussion on ensuring that models of cooperation and water diplomacy will be able to respond to the needs of our time.  

Following the keynote speeches, invited panellists representing three countries from conflict-prone regions affected by water scarcity, engaged in a discussion stressing, amongst other issues, the importance of using legal frameworks to advance transboundary water cooperation, the need to continue strengthening capacity building, and the key role of water in advancing economic cooperation. Together the panellists coined a new term describing a “technically informed political track” encompassing both the technical and political elements required for developing the necessary holistic understanding of water issues. Representatives of two non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, Sweden and the Netherlands, then addressed the continuing need to involve women in negotiating peace agreements, and the ongoing challenges related to elevating conflict prevention and climate-induce security risks onto the UNSC agenda.  

The concluding remarks identified a strong need to bridge communities, to work horizontally across sectors and disciplines rather than in isolated silos, and to put the problem at the centre of international efforts. Altogether, the High Level Panel on Water Diplomacy highlighted a robust sense of common challenges related water and peace and illuminated several possible ways forward stressing how water diplomacy can contribute to a broader concept of development including elements of peace and security, human rights and institutional building.