International Lessons for the American West and Beyond
Edited by Douglas S. Kenney
Chapter 5: Transboundary Water Conflicts and Cooperation
5. Transboundary water conﬂicts and cooperation Aaron T. Wolf With assistance from Robert K. Hitchcock, University of Nebraska; Jeffrey Jacobs, National Research Council; Mikiyasu Nakayama, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology; Julie Trottier, Oxford University; and Douglas S. Kenney, University of Colorado INTRODUCTION Transboundary water disputes can be deﬁned broadly as occurring whenever demand for water is shared by any sets of interests, be they political, economic, environmental, or legal. Conﬂicts over shared water resources occur at multiple scales, from sets of individual irrigators, to urban versus rural uses, to users located in different political jurisdictions – the traditional deﬁnition of transboundary. Transboundary waters share certain characteristics that make their management especially complicated, most notable of which is that these basins require a more complete appreciation of the political, cultural, and social aspects of water, and that the tendency is for regional politics to regularly exacerbate the already difﬁcult task of understanding and managing complex natural systems. International transboundary water issues are increasingly being viewed through the lens of security studies, which are guided by an appreciation of the mutually destabilizing forces of poverty and political instability. The process of poverty alleviation is often hampered in regions where human security is at risk. As a consequence, much of the thinking about the concept of ‘environmental security’ has moved beyond a presumed causal relationship between environmental stress and violent conﬂict to a broader notion of ‘human security’ – a more inclusive concept focusing on the intricate sets...
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