Water diplomacy paths – An approach to recognise water diplomacy actions in shared waters

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A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
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Journal of Hydrology, Volume 602
Water diplomacy is gaining increasing attention among both researchers and policy-makers. The interest is understandable, given that the concept brings together themes such as shifting geopolitics, new types of diplomacy and increasing water scarcity. Yet, there is no common definition for water diplomacy and actual water diplomacy actions typically vary across multiple tracks and scales. In this article, we seek to contribute to the practice of water diplomacy by introducing a step-wise Water Diplomacy Paths approach for analysing different water diplomacy contexts and related water diplomacy actions. To facilitate this, we recognise five key aspects for water diplomacy (Political; Preventive; Integrative; Cooperative; Technical) and propose a general definition for water diplomacy. We also discuss the possible distinctions between the related concepts of water diplomacy and transboundary water cooperation. The use of the Water Diplomacy Paths approach is demonstrated with brief case studies focusing on Central Asia, the Mekong Region, and the Finnish-Russian water cooperation. The work builds on an extensive literature review and comparative analysis of water diplomacy approaches as well as on a series of workshops and interviews among selected water diplomacy actors, including career diplomats. The suggested Water Diplomacy Paths approach envisions possible ways forward through four main steps: 1) identification of key themes and related actors; 2) analysis of the current state, 3) recognition of (undesired) drivers and related scenarios; and 4) identification of possible water diplomacy actions. We see that the approach has potential to support water diplomacy processes with the help of the distinction it makes between water- and diplomacy-focused activities as well as its consideration of tensions and related actions. Such characteristics also emphasise the complementarity that water diplomacy actions have with more traditional transboundary water cooperation arrangements. We argue that water diplomacy as a concept and as a practical approach provides an example of the future of foreign policy and diplomacy, where the use of shared waters is likely to be of increasing importance.
Funding Information: This research is partly based on two projects funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs through the Finnish University Partnership for International Development UniPID: Marko Keskinen and Erik Salminen were key contributors in both projects. The research by Juho Haapala was funded with a personal postdoc grant from the Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry. Funding Information: This research was possible thanks to the close collaboration with various professionals working on foreign policy, diplomacy and transboundary waters: thank you to all of you. Particularly big thanks to all those interviewed and participating in our workshops and meetings. Special acknowledgements to our wonderful co-authors of two related water diplomacy studies, namely Tuula Honkonen and Antti Belinskij from the University of Eastern Finland and Elina H?kkinen from Tampere University/Aalto University. Thank you for the useful insights and support to all our colleagues, particularly Olli Varis, Lauri Ahopelto, Antti Rautavaara and Sirpa M?enp??. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors
Diplomacy, Foreign policy, Regional cooperation, Transboundary waters, Water diplomacy, Water security
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Keskinen , M , Salminen , E & Haapala , J 2021 , ' Water diplomacy paths – An approach to recognise water diplomacy actions in shared waters ' , Journal of Hydrology , vol. 602 , 126737 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2021.126737