Water Cooperation and Peace - Finnish Water Way

FIIA is partnering with the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) in the project “Water Cooperation and Peace – Finnish Water Way”, funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and Ministry of the Environment. The project started in 2021 and will continue until 2024.

Water diplomacy refers to the prevention and resolution of political tensions over water and its use through methods drawing from both water expertise and diplomatic tools. In an era marked by climate change, geopolitical tension, economic crisis and various other global developments, water use is under increasing pressure and may contribute to the onset of instability and conflicts. However, challenges regarding water are also known to catalyse mutual understanding and cooperation. There is a growing need for the kind of cooperative, stability-building solutions that water diplomacy can generate.

The ” Water Cooperation and Peace” project supports the implementation of the Finnish approach to water diplomacy, which is set to prevent and resolve water-related conflicts in a world of climate change and resource scarcity. The aim of Finnish water diplomacy is to contribute to sustaining peace and ensuring security by making water visible in peace initiatives and in Finland’s foreign and security policy.

The project seeks to strengthen Finnish water diplomacy collaboration internationally and to support the active participation and experience sharing of Finnish experts to contribute to international transboundary agreements and their implementation. In addition, the project identifies and responds to the needs of Finnish and international water diplomacy training and competence-building and deepens cooperation between experts in foreign and security policy, peace mediation, and the water sector.

As one of its concrete outcomes, the project has developed a conflict analysis tool for water diplomacy to facilitate contextualised understanding of the role of water in conflicts. The tool provides an adaptable approach to analyse the potential for peace and conflict in a given country or region by examining its profile, actors, conflict factors and dynamics. Conflict analysis works as a tool for foresight and conflict prevention. It helps to identify potential water diplomacy actions and as such helps to integrate water factors into foreign and security policy and conflict resolution. It also enhances awareness of the operating environment and ensures that proposed actors will not end up having unintended negative consequences.

The project also coordinates the Finnish Water Diplomacy Network, which consists of experts from ministries, academia and research institutions, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector. The network-based implementation of Finnish water diplomacy activities ensures that relevant peace mediation and water actors work in cooperation and makes it possible to utilize their expertise for both rapid response and longer-term development aims.

The project is led by SYKE and coordinated by Sara Todorovic (Syke). The project team consists of Emma Hakala (FIIA), Katariina Mustasilta (FIIA), Suvi Sojamo (Syke) and Tea Törnroos (Syke).

The Conflict Analysis Guide and the summary of the guide can be found on the website of Finnish Environment Institute (Syke). 

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