About the water, peace and Security partnership
The Problem: Water Insecurity Is on the Rise
Water insecurity is increasing worldwide. A third of the world’s people now live in countries that experience high levels of water stress, with droughts affecting around 50 million people and causing more than $5 billion in damage annually. These numbers are expected to rise as population growth, rapid urbanisation, increasing climate change and growing economic demands for water intensify existing pressures. In most cases these threats are not merely a consequence of changes in weather but also manifest issues around inadequate water management and governance. These multiple interacting factors render vulnerable communities more susceptible to short-term water scarcity and longer-term droughts, while directly affecting local economies and social relations.
The growing water crisis increasingly poses a threat to livelihoods, food production and energy security at local and national levels. This uncertainty has consequences for the ongoing security of communities, countries and entire regions, all the way up to the global level. In light of such threats, international organisations, including the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and the High-Level Panel on Water, have added their voice to calls to urgently address the linkages among water scarcity, conflict, and human and political security.
The Solution: Constructive Dialogue Underpins Effective Action
We believe there are several key conditions that can contribute to reducing the risk of water-related security threats by
- providing key actors with early warning and enhanced awareness of the nature and urgency of water-related threats;
- improving stakeholder understanding of the threat these issues pose to their own interests; and
- developing the capacity that stakeholders require to intervene.
Under such conditions it is more likely that stakeholders will act to prevent the escalation of conflict or social destabilisation. Hence, they will jointly undertake the inclusive and informed action required, resulting in reduced water-related security risks and improved, and conflict-sensitive, water management. This will also enhance peace and collaboration in general. Water can thus be converted from a source of conflict into a tool for peace.
The WPS Approach
In response to these threats, the Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership was founded in 2018 to pioneer the development of innovative tools and services that help identify and address water-related security risks. These tools and services can link hydrological, social, economic and political factors to pinpoint changes in short-term water availability and provisionally assess their potential impacts on society. Based on this information, evidence-based actions can be triggered to prevent or mitigate human security risks. WPS can also facilitate this process by raising awareness, developing capacities and supporting dialogue that together underpin effective coordinated action.
The WPS partnership can support different stakeholders faced with water-related risk through an integrated approach consisting of the following elements:
Understand • Mobilise • Learn • Dialogue • Act!
The WPS partnership generates understanding about the risks of water-related security threats by using cutting-edge technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), remote sensing and other tools to support complex analysis. This generates crucial information for policymakers, including early warning signals and decision tools that indicate both where and when risks are increasing, and how they might be addressed.
You can find out more about the WPS partnership and how we use data, AI and other tools to support complex analysis here:
The information and analysis that the WPS partnership provides helps inform action by decision-makers, including politicians, communities and the private sector. The WPS partnership can assist by reaching out to the 4D communities (diplomacy, defence, development and disaster-response experts), along with governments and other stakeholders, at both the national and international levels.
Key stakeholders include governments, investors, international organisations, civil society and the private sector. The WPS partnership can work with these diverse actors to enhance their awareness and understanding of the water-related security threats they may face, and of the political urgency of these risks. This information can help decision-makers proactively and effectively address these risks.
These tools and services together provide an integrated approach to enable 4D communities, civil society and the private sector—including investors—to act in a timely and adequate manner to address water-related security threats. Download the Water, Peace and Security Flyer.
Who We Are
The Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership is a collaboration between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a consortium of six partners: IHE Delft (lead partner), World Resources Institute (WRI), Deltares, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), Wetlands International and International Alert.
The initiative is intended to become an open network that can bring together knowledge, capacities and activities directed at speeding up and scaling up preventative action in the context of water stress–induced conflict, migration or other forms of social destabilisation. To this end, the consortium collaborates with a growing number of other institutions, including Oregon State University, Pacific Institute and New America.
THE WPS PARTNERS
IHE Delft Institute for Water Education is the consortium lead for this project. IHE Delft is the largest international graduate water education facility in the world and is based in Delft, the Netherlands. IHE Delft, a non-profit organisation, has a signed partnership agreement with UNESCO. At IHE, over 200 staff members focus on education, research and capacity in the broad fields of water engineering, water management, environment, sanitation and governance. A large part of this work is done across the world with partner stakeholders from the water sector.
World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research non-profit organisation that spans more than 60 countries, with offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. Over 1,000 experts and staff turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. It works towards practical solutions and global impact based on rigorous analysis and long-term engagement with decision-makers from governments, corporations, city governments and communities. WRI has become a leader in the use of new technologies and big data, expanding the ‘do tank’ side of its work to ensure better impact from its traditional “think tank” role.
Deltares is a leading (not-for-profit) and internationally operating consultancy and applied research institute in the field of water and subsurface resources. Based in the Netherlands and operating around the world, Deltares works on innovative solutions and applications for people, environment and society. More than 800 Deltares specialists have expertise in the policy, science and engineering disciplines to address sustainability issues. Deltares has a wide network of international cooperation, both with government and private organisations. Deltares works with major knowledge institutes around the world, and at the same time is involved in many social responsibility projects, particularly for major international financial organisations, like the World Bank.
The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) is an independent think tank. HCSS creates models and monitors for public and private organisations to improve their situational awareness, providing them with a better understanding of their strategic environment. It also compiles, collates and generates new datasets, designs tailor-made analytical frameworks and builds fully interactive web interfaces. HCSS’s in-house competencies include predictive modelling using both structural and dynamic data, web scraping, text mining, advanced internet search techniques and data visualisation. HCSS works with clients from both the public and private sectors.
Wetlands International is a global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands for people and biodiversity. With its headquarters in the Netherlands and 20 country and network offices around the world, the organisation is currently working in over 100 countries. Wetlands International’s work ranges from research and community-based projects to engagement with governments and private sector entities, to advocacy in international policy. To achieve long-term and sustainable positive change, it works through partnerships across landscapes and ecosystems and is supported by contributions from an extensive specialist network.
International Alert is an international peacebuilding organisation with its headquarters in London. It also maintains a continental European office in The Hague, the Netherlands, in addition to offices in 15 other countries around the world. Approximately 250 experts and staff work on programmes to build positive peace and reduce violence, working across conflict lines and with all parties to the conflict. Alert’s peacebuilding programming works in three main ways: dialogue, influencing and partnerships underpinned by research and analysis to identify the root causes of violence and long-term solutions to conflict. Central to Alert’s peacebuilding is championing gender- and conflict-sensitive approaches to work in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. This approach is mainstreamed across all of Alert’s work and also central to its efforts with external stakeholders at the project, strategy and policy levels.
New America is a non-partisan, non-profit think tank and civic organisation headquartered in Washington, DC. The organisation looks at new ways to work, learn, govern and thrive in a time of profound change. New America’s work includes a program focused on natural security, through new governance ideas to promote human security in the face of a global environmental crisis.
Oregon State University is an international public research university with land, sea, space, and sun grants; nearly 5,000 academic and professional faculty, including 90+ in water-related fields; and a student body of 30,000 from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. It houses the Program in Water Conflict Management & Transformation and is one of three hubs (along with IHE-Delft and the University of Peace) of the Masters Programme in Water Cooperation & Diplomacy.
The Pacific Institute envisions a world in which society, the economy, and the environment have the water they need to thrive now and in the future. In pursuit of this vision, the institute creates and advances solutions to the world’s most pressing water challenges, such as unsustainable water management and use; armed conflict over water resources; climate change; environmental degradation; food, fibre and energy production for a growing population; and basic lack of access to freshwater and sanitation. Since 1987, the Pacific Institute has cut across traditional areas of study and actively collaborated with a diverse set of stakeholders, including policymakers, scientists, corporate leaders, international organisations such as the United Nations, advocacy groups, and local communities. This interdisciplinary and nonpartisan approach helps bring diverse interests together to forge effective real-world solutions.