‘Water can help global relations’



Muscat: Water induces cooperation between nations, a geography professor pointed out at an event to observe World Water Day 2013. The programme was hosted by the Water Research Centre, representing Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), in association with the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources.

"While media reports on international waters often focus on conflict, what has been more encouraging is that, throughout the world, water also induces cooperation, even in particularly hostile basins and even as disputes rage over other issues," said Aaron Wolf, a professor of geography at the Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University.
Prof. Wolf was giving a talk yesterday on 'Shared Waters: Conflicts and Cooperation' at a workshop jointly organised by the Water Research Centre of SQU and the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources on the occasion of World Water Day 2013.

"Water-related cooperation has been true for the Jordan (Arabs and Israelis), Indus (Indians and Pakistanis), and Kura-Araks (Georgians, Armenians, and Azeris) regions. Despite research that finds repeatedly and empirically that water-related cooperation has overwhelmed conflict over the last 50 years, prevailing theories have failed to explain this phenomenon," stated Prof. Wolf.

"Certainly, there is a long history of conflict over, or related to, shared freshwater resources, but there is also a long and, in many ways, deeper history of water-related cooperation. Why do countries share a basin cooperate on water issues, even when they will not cooperate over other issues? Here is a resource on which we all depend, which fluctuates wildly in space and time, and for which there is little guidance in international law. By any quantitative measure, water should be the most conflict-inducing of all resources, not an elixir that drives enemies to craft functioning and resilient institutional arrangements," the US expert opined.

Every year, SQU observes World Water Day in cooperation with the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources. This year, the workshop on 'Water cooperation towards resource sustainability' was held under the patronage of Ali bin Mohammed Al Abri, undersecretary at the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources for Water Resources Affairs.

Osman Abdalla, director of the Water Research Centre at SQU, who delivered the welcome address, underscored the importance of the theme of 'World Water Day 2013: Water cooperation'. The papers discussed in the workshop disseminated knowledge and shared experiences on different aspects of water cooperation. At the opening ceremony, a video on water resources in Oman, prepared by the ministry, was screened.

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