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IDSA-PRIO Conference 2011: Transboundary Rivers: Multilateral Frameworks for Cooperation

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  • November 30, 2011
    Conference
    Only by Invitation

    Venue: Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi

    Introduction

    Through the centuries, many great river systems originating from the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayan Mountains have sustained the lives and livelihood of people in South Asia, Southeast Asia and China. Mighty rivers like the Yangtze, Huang He, Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra, Irrawady, Salween, Mekong, Amu Darya and Syr Darya originate from this high-altitude plateau, flowing through numerous Asian countries. Scientific evidence points towards an increasing impact of global warming, causing glacial melting and other water-related challenges in many parts of the world, including Asia. The combined effects of natural and human-induced fluctuations in weather patterns are expected to lead to increased flooding, droughts, destruction of crops and habitations, and displacement. South Asia will be particularly vulnerable to these effects due to the “exponential function” of rapidly increasing population, growing food demand and dependency on water for irrigation and energy. The Food-Energy-Water (FEW) connect is thus critical, and river water is an important part of the equation.

    Objectives

    With the increasing importance of transboundary river water in South and Southeast Asia, hydro-diplomacy can be seen as a new framework for regional cooperation, with opportunities for dialogue, consultation and data-sharing both between and within states. The objective of this conference is to assess the potential for dialogue and future mechansims for multilateral cooperation between three countries sharing important sources of river water: China, India and Bangladesh.

    Questions to explore

    How can a comprehensive transboundary river water dialogue be structured?
    What lessons can we learn from mechanisms for cooperation on other transboundary rivers, such as the Mekong River Commission?
    How useful are international treaties, e.g. the UN Convention on Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (1997)?
    Can civil society stakeholders play a constructive role in multilateral cooperation on transboundary river water management?

    Tentative Programme

    1000-1030: Opening Session
    IDSA-PRIO Cooperation: Remarks by IDSA and PRIO directors
    Inaugural Speech by Leela Ponappa former Deputy National Security Adviser

    Tea Break

    Session I River Basin Approaches: The South Asian context

    Chair: Ashild Kolas, PRIO
    1045-1100
    Water security in South Asia: Prospects for regional cooperation?
    -- Uttam Sinha, IDSA, Delhi

    1100-1120
    Water challenges in South Asia
    -- Rohan D’Souza, JNU, Delhi

    1120-1140
    The South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI)
    -- Claudia Sadoff, World Bank, Bangkok

    1140-1200
    Upstream-downstream issues in integrated water resource management: Examples from India
    -- Anshuman, TERI, Delhi

    1200-1245: Open discussion
    1245-1345: Lunch at the Taj Palace

    Session II: Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra: Local perspectives

    Chair: Isabel Hilton, China Dialogue

    1345-1410
    The Brahmaputra River and its management: Views from Assam
    -- Sarat Phukan and Santanu Barthakur, Department of Geology, Guwahati University

    1410-1430
    -- Eri Hangdan, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing

    1430-1450
    Water Towers in China: Changing Climate and a Changing Asia
    -- Jianchu Xu, CGIAR, Nairobi

    1450-1510
    Water and Big Dams
    -- Ramya Swayamprakash, JNU, Delhi

    1510-1540: Open Discussion

    Session III: Multilateral frameworks for cooperation

    Chair: Ambassador R. Rajagopalan
    1540-1600
    IUCN and the Transboundary River Water Dialogue
    -- Niaz Ahmed Khan, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Bangladesh, Dhaka

    1600-1620
    China and Multilateralism: A Look at Water
    -- Sujit Dutta, Jamia Milia Islamia

    1620-1640
    The Mekong River Commission: How does it work?
    -- George Radosevich, Legal Expert, Mekong River Commission

    1640-1700
    How Chinese Media Views Water
    -- Dr Bijoy Das, IDSA

    1700-1730: Open Discussion

    1930: Dinner at IDSA Lawns

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