Blue Peace: Water as an asset for peace

High-level government representatives from Central Asia and West Africa standing in front of a large water pipe.
Government representatives from Central Asia learning methods of peaceful cross-border water cooperation at the Senegal River basin. © SDC

Water will in the future be more important than any other geopolitical resource, including crude oil, with demand set to rise more than 50% by 2030. This will also increase the risk of conflict over water, a vital resource. With the FDFA’s lines of action as part of the Blue Peace initiative, Switzerland is contributing technical and policy solutions to political dialogue in the regions concerned.

Water is crucial to security. It has become a key element not only in the fight against poverty, but also in the context of peace and political stability. Due to demographic growth, economic development, urbanisation, pollution and climate change, this resource, which is limited and unevenly distributed across the globe, is under ever-greater pressure.

Issues relating to water access are causing conflict in several regions of the world. Even greater tensions can arise when water resources are scarce, droughts occur or armed conflict prevents access.

Focus 

Switzerland offers countries its support in managing their water resources more effectively and in reducing tensions between different users (private consumers, the energy industry, agriculture, etc.) at both the national and regional levels. Through the Blue Peace initiative launched in 2010, Switzerland is supporting both cross-border cooperation and national platforms for dialogue on water access issues. Blue Peace is based on the idea that managing water resources around the world fairly and efficiently helps to achieve sustainable peace. Switzerland has extensive experience in promoting dialogue and working out compromises. It also has recognised water management expertise at political level and in relation to academia, the private sector and civil society. In 2015, Switzerland came together with 14 other states to set up the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace. In late 2017, the panel published its recommendations in the final report 'A Matter of Survival'.

'A Matter of Survival', final report of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace

The 'Swiss toolbox'

Switzerland has wide-ranging expertise in the peaceful management of water resources shared with neighbouring countries. As stretches of two major European rivers, the Rhône and the Rhine, flow through the country, and a number of lakes extend across its borders, Switzerland has long experience in transboundary water management and can assist in developing solutions for other parts of the world.

Switzerland has a range of foreign policy instruments to meet the current challenges:

Development cooperation
The SDC works to improve access to water and sanitation and ensure equitable management of water resources.

Humanitarian aid
The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit provides relief in crisis and conflict situations to meet the water needs of the affected populations, and works on preventive measures to minimise the impact of natural disasters such as flooding.

Instruments to ensure human security and promote international law
These are used, for example, to promote dialogue in water-related conflicts.

Bilateral diplomatic relations with states
In countries facing major water and security-related risks, Switzerland systematically addresses these issues.

Bilateral and multilateral

The Swiss toolbox is used both bilaterally and multilaterally. At a bilateral level, for instance, Switzerland's water diplomacy encourages various consumers to cooperate on water management, thus contributing to peaceful societies.

At multilateral level, Switzerland lobbied for the availability and sustainable management of water and for access to sanitation to be included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also plays an active role in discussing the topic of water and security within regional organisations, particularly the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Documents

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 18

Maximum cooperation needed to manage glacier melt in Central Asia

Two men working with specialist equipment on a glacier.

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2020

How to meet the needs of Central Asia’s 68 million inhabitants for water while respecting the glaciers overlooking Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan? The SDC’s project is building on voluntary regional cooperation and rigorous scientific monitoring of the changes taking place in the glaciers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Central Asia
Water
Water diplomacy and security
Water sector policy
Water resources conservation
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water resources conservation (including data collection)

01.05.2017 - 31.12.2020


CHF 1'200'000



Blue Peace Central Asia Strengthening of the Regional Institutional Framework for Integrated Water Resources Management in Central Asia

01.09.2014 - 31.12.2020

In response to the explicit demand of the five Central Asian States, and building on over 20 years of cooperation in the field of water, SDC facilitates transboundary water resources cooperation consistent with the Blue Peace approach implemented in the Middle-East and at the global level through the establishment of a High Level Dialogue Platform, the promotion of sustainable water practices as well as capacity building of a new generation of water professionals and champions.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Central Asia
Water
Climate change and environment
Water diplomacy and security
Meteorological services
Water resources conservation
Water sector policy
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water resources conservation (including data collection)
Meteorological services
Water sector policy and administrative management
Water resources conservation (including data collection)

01.09.2014 - 31.12.2020


CHF 6'000'000



Water Security Middle East (Blue Peace)

01.02.2019 - 31.12.2021

In the Middle East, the dire situation of water resources demands stronger regional cooperation than ever before. The Blue Peace Middle East Initiative is the only regional platform engaging six countries around water issues. Together with its partners from academia, international organisations, civil society and the private sector, Switzerland is able to promote policy and concrete solutions for serving the most vulnerable populations leading to sustainable development and peace building. Stability in the region is in the interest of Switzerland.


Contribution to the International Secretariat for Water

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2023

The International Secretariat for Water (ISW) supports and empowers civil society and youth to be active, recognized and credible stakeholders in decision-making around water and sanitation. It is recognized for its holistic and participatory approach involving wide networks of partners, including numerous Swiss-based organisations. The contribution aims to strengthen the strategic partnership with ISW in order to remain an efficient and innovative advocate for civil society and youth.


Transboundary waters governance for Sustainable Development and Blue Peace

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021

With increasing tensions around the rarefication of water, Switzerland, with its central position within the European continent, has chosen the path of regional water cooperation. This programme relies on the synergistic expertise of three international partners. It endorses the approach that increasing regional dialogue and fostering joint management and financing for the shared water resources contributes to socio-economic development and regional stability in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


Blue Peace Index

01.11.2018 - 31.12.2023

Financial investment in sustainable forms of water cooperation remains limited. Switzerland’s expertise on transboundary water management combined with the Economist Intelligence Unit’s understanding of financial investment bear the unique potential to trigger the change by developing a Blue Peace Index. The aim of such an Index is to increase the awareness on the benefits of cooperation and attracting financial resources for sustainable and resilient investment forms for water cooperation ultimately contributing to a more peaceful and stable society.


Contribution Earth Security Initiative (ESI)

01.10.2018 - 30.09.2021

The ESI is an independent think tank which aims at catalyzing the global financial and industry sectors to define and leverage global finance innovations that contribute directly to cooperation between different sectors and countries for sustainable water management and poverty alleviation. This SDC contribution will promote the development of new financial mechanisms aligned with sustainable development policy objectives and priorities of developing countries to the benefit of society and natural resources.


Blue Peace: Unlocking the value of transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments

01.10.2018 - 31.12.2029

In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals government efforts do not suffice, large private capitals deployed towards development are needed. Switzerland has a comparative advantage as innovative finance hub. Building on this, SDC contributes to the development of innovative financial products that enable transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments with aim to contribute to sustainable development and peace.


Blue Peace Financing: transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments

01.10.2018 - 30.06.2023

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals government efforts do not suffice, additional private capital deployed towards sustainable development are needed. Blue Peace advocates for investments to be re-directed to two levels: transboundary entities and to municipalities. This will have a transformative impact. As a door opener, Switzerland through its partnership with UNCDF contributes to the development of innovative financial products that enable transboundary, multisectoral and transgenerational investments leading to sustainable development and peace.


Contribution Earth Security Initiative (ESI)

01.09.2018 - 31.03.2024

The ESI is an independent think tank which aims at catalyzing the global financial and industry sectors to define and leverage global finance innovations that contribute directly to cooperation for sustainable water management and poverty alleviation. This SDC contribution will promote the development of new financial mechanisms that are aligned with sustainable development policy objectives and priorities of developing countries to the benefit of society and natural resources.


Promoting Water Stewardship 2030

01.03.2018 - 31.12.2020

Water stewardship fosters responsible private engagement in water. This programme aims at shaping the collaboration with the private sector for the benefit of society and natural resources. This SDC contribution will promote and institutionalize multi-stakeholder water dialogue by supporting several public-private partnership initiatives. It will facilitate exchange of knowledge leading to changes in practices and behaviours across sectors and stakeholders.


Soutien au Panel Global de Haut Niveau pour l’Eau et la Paix

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2020

Le Panel Global de Haut Niveau pour l’Eau et la Paix, initiative fer de lance initié par la Suisse ainsi que 14 pays co-parrains, a été lancée avec succès le 15 novembre 2016 dans le cadre du projet Blue Peace Global. L’objectif de cette phase est d’assurer la bonne continuation des travaux du Panel, soutenu par le GWH (7F-08448.02) et le Strategic Foresight Group, ainsi que d’assure par la suite la promotion de leurs recommandations au plus haut niveau politique.

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