Cooperation in action: approaches, tools and processes


Title: Cooperation in action: approaches, tools and processes

Author(s): UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC)

Publication Date: 2013

Type of Document : Background Papers

Category: Other

Geographic area:




    Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 February 2011, the objective of the International Year is to raise awareness, both on the potential for increased cooperation, and on the challenges facing water management in light of increasing demand for water.

    Competition among uses and users of water is increasing in almost all countries. This competition for water could increasingly become a source of tension and conflict between states, sectors and communities. Other po- tential sources of conflict include degrading water quality, inadequate water management and infrastructure development such as dams. While most acute conflicts occur locally, they can present challenges to the larger context of (inter)national peace and security. However, water has also proven to be a productive pathway for confidence building, cooperation and conflict prevention. Water can even be a key factor in negotiating the end of a conflict. Cooperation in the search for solutions to resource scarcity and mismanagement can lead to in- novation and the equitable sharing of costs, benefits and risks.

    To ensure that water security and sustainability is achieved, concerted efforts must be made to promote water cooperation at river basin and local scales, including transboundary river basins, irrigation districts and cities. Cooperation is necessary to deal with major issues such as water allocation decisions, upstream and down- stream impacts of water pollution and water abstraction, construction and management of new infrastruc- tures, dealing with illegal abstractions and overexploitation of surface and groundwater, deciding on the financing of water management, and improving water-related disaster management. The role of negotiation, mediation and other dispute resolution mechanisms are key to improving cooperation processes.