Water cooperation and diplomacy, water policy and governance

Water diplomacy is an important Dutch expertise area. Research institutes focus on the relationship between water and security, the influence of climate change on this relationship and the use of “track II” diplomacy approaches in transboundary water management. IHP also has a strong focus on water cooperation and conflict prevention via its PCCP programme, the ISARM programme and the International Centre for Water Cooperation (ICWC) hosted by SIWI. This theme also encompasses the broader field of water policy and governance, with an emphasis on the interactions among the multiple levels, sectors and actors involved in the decision-making processes.

Youth Challenge: Climate Change, Migration, & Me

Climate-related displacement is already a global reality. Every year, the lives of millions of people are affected when they are displaced by the impacts of weather and climate hazards. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment has therefore asked to organize a youth challenge on climate-related displacements, in order to increase awareness of the issue in the Dutch and international society.

Ten different organisations dealing with issues concerning climate-related displacements will ask youth (students and Young professionals) to help solving their specific case.

The challenge will:

  1. Start in September 18 at the LEF Future Centre, where the issues will be introduced and the groups will be formed.
  2. The groups will all research a specific case related to climate-related displacements, for which they will have a month time. Deltares and the case-owners will offer expert guidance during this month.
  3. The end-results (scientific poster and video) will be presented during the final event (November 1st) at the Amsterdam International Water Week, where a jury will decide who wins the challenge.

One of the winning groups will be allowed to join the third annual Planetary Security Conference that will take place on 12 and 13 December 2017 in The Hague, The Netherlands. Another group will be offered to join COP23 in Bonn, and present their results there as well.

More information on the challenge, its program and its prices can be found here.


According to the WMO, climate-related displacement is already a global reality. Some of the largest disasters make the international headlines, but most disasters do not even make the national news. Yet, for poor and vulnerable families struggling to survive, even a small weather-related event can make an enormous impact on their lives. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) has estimated that between 2008 and 2014, an annual average of at least 22.5 million people were displaced by the direct threat or impacts of floods, landslides, storms, wildfires and extreme temperatures on their safety, homes and livelihoods.

In the pas years, also Europe has experienced these impacts, both because of floods or droughts occurring in Europe itself, as well as because of migration flows that have reached Europe, which effects Europe and Europeans again. There are theories that suspect a relation between climate change, more extreme droughts and floods, and social unrest or insecure circumstances that induce migration.

Therefore, a research collaboration between Deltares, the World Resources Institute (WRI), Wageningen University (WUR) and Clingendael Institute is looking at hotspots for water-scarcity-related conflicts. They will combine all their specialist water knowledge, with food models and socio-economic and governance knowledge.

‘We need a much clearer understanding of the interactions between climate change, water scarcity, food production, inequality and social unrest to better identify the countries worldwide where hotspots of water scarcity-related conflicts may emerge in the future. Only then will we be able to devise measures to reduce those risks.’ (Deltares)

The Planetary Security Initiative aims to increase awareness, to deepen knowledge, and to develop and promote policies and good practice guidance to help governments, the private sector and international institutions better secure peace and cooperation in times of climate change and global environmental challenges. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched the Planetary Security Initiative (PSI) in 2015. Now operated by a consortium of leading think tanks, the goal of PSI is to strengthen the knowledge-policy interface by consolidating the Community of Practice on planetary security.

The policy brief discusses the multi-faceted character of climate risks and the challenges that occur when this is addressed in practice. Climate-related security risks are (1) context-dependent, (2) have a compound character, and (3) are transmitted across time and space. The three sources of challenges elaborated in this policy brief point towards the need for improved analysis of climate-related security risks to inform policy on this issue. Both improved analysis and successful responses require integrated approaches. One of the mentioned recommendations is to develop concepts that span boundaries between policy and knowledge areas and develop forums and meeting points between different parts of an organisation so as to discuss and explore those concepts.

UN Water has developed a set of guiding principles on water and climate change for experts and decision makers to consider when preparing development plans and related investments. These principles formed the basis for two side events at UNFCCC COP21 in November 2015 and COP22 in November 2016. These events brought together representatives from national and local government with the private sector, to discuss the role of water in climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as possible actions on the ground.

For more information:

Interested in this theme? Contact us via ihp.hwrp@unesco.nl