G8 Initiative on Conflict and Development

Promoting Cooperative and Sustainable Management of Shared Water Resources

The G8 has repeatedly stressed the conflict potential of environmental and resource issues. Meeting in March 1999, G8 Environment Ministers noted that "environmental degradation of resources, resource scarcity and subsequent sociopolitical impact are a potential threat to security as they may give rise to or exacerbate civil conflicts and conflicts between states". Similarly, as part of its Miyazaki initiative for conflict prevention on "Conflict and Development", the G8 "considers ways to use economic and development assistance to address causes of conflict stemming from competition for natural resources, such as water, and to encourage regional approaches to their management".

Water is a basic human need and a key component of development - it is a fundamental resource for food production as well as for enhancing social well-being and providing for economic growth. It is also the lifeblood of the environment. Already today, it is a scarce resource in large parts of the world. It is estimated that about one-sixth of the world population lacks access to safe drinking water and one third lacks sanitation. If present trends continue, two out of every three people on Earth will live in countries considered to be "water stressed" (Kofi Annan, Millenium Report, para 274). According to World Bank projections, by 2050 40% of the global population are likely to face some form of water shortage, with one in five suffering severe shortages. Global climate change could further exacerbate the problem. Against this backdrop, the G8 wishes to contribute to and promote a sustainable management of shared water resources. Acknowledging significant efforts by the international community to promote cooperation in the sphere of shared water resources, the G8 offers to share its experience and expertise with interested states and organizations of regional cooperation aimed at supporting shared water resources management. The G8's approach to this issue is based on the following principles:


Sound water management can mean more for all and reduce the potential for water-related conflicts. Nations must be committed to integrated water resources management at the basin level that provides for a sufficient and equitable supply of water for their citizens through sound and sustainable water policies.

Respect for Sovereignty:

Successful conflict prevention in this area can only be achieved on the basis of respect of sovereignty of states directly involved, and of their specific historical, cultural and economic conditions.


Preventing conflicts over water as well as resolving them peacefully can only be achieved through mutually beneficial cooperation. The issue of joint management of shared waters thus not only poses a challenge but also serves as a catalyst for cooperation and offers an opportunity to build confidence and foster development.

Good Governance must ensure both transparent and participatory decision making in all water management related affairs, and just pricing that integrates social considerations, in order to provide water to the poor at affordable prices. Governments bear a major responsibility to ensure an efficient, sustainable and equitable supply of water for their citizens.

The G8

  • draws attention to the conflict potential of an inadequate supply and distribution of water from shared water systems, and acknowledges the need to reinforce efforts aimed at preventing water shortages;
  • encourages the international community to cooperate more closely and effectively to this end on a bi- and multilateral basis, and as appropriate with international and regional organizations such as UNDP, UN regional economic commissions and takes note of activities of such fora as the Global Water Partnership and the former World Commission on Dams.
  • encourages riparian states to use water and all its uses as a catalyst for peace and to develop a common vision for the sustainable use and protection of shared water resources, including mechanisms for fair and effective dispute settlement;
  • notes the 1992 UN/ECE Helsinki Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes and the 1997 UN Convention on the Non-Navigational Use of International Watercourses for beneficial cross-border cooperation and encourages the elaboration of effective regional arrangements on shared water resources management issues;
  • suggests to consider elaboration of regional or bilateral agreements that build on the Conventions and further its objectives by taking into account regional and local conditions;
  • acknowledges OSCE initiatives for regional approaches to joint management of shared waters, e.g., in the framework of the 1999 "7th Economic Forum on Security Aspects in the Field of the Environment";
  • welcomes the decision 6/1 "Strategic approaches to freshwater management" agreed at CSD6 and the Ministerial Declaration of The Hague on Water Security in the 21st Century embraces on 22 March 2000 in the framework of the Second World Water Forum and recognizes especially the results of the International Conference on Freshwater hosted by the Federal German Government from 3 to 7 December 2001 in Bonn, notably the Bonn Recommendations for Action, which provide an important input in all aspects of the sectoral theme of water.
  • condemns deliberate destruction of elements of shared water systems infrastructure;
  • considers that the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 offers an opportunity to promote in a cooperative spirit the issue of freshwater supply and sanitation;
  • supports activities leading to the International Year of Fresh Water (2003), and expects the Third World Water Forum to be hosted by Japan in March 2003 to be a good opportunity for further discussion on the possible actions for the sustainable development of water;
  • values the utility of transboundary river commissions and will continue to support states in making full use of existing and creating new commissions;
  • stresses the importance of partnership (including public-private partnerships) that involve local and regional stakeholders in water management schemes;
  • will use development assistance to promote integrated water resources management and good governance in the field of shared water resources development, management, protection and use within states and between states.

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