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ES 418: Hydro-diplomacy and the Nexus (WS)

Course Title

Hydro-diplomacy and the Nexus (WS)

Course Code

ES 418

Course Type




Year / Semester


Instructor’s Name

 Fadi Comair (Lead Instructor)



Lectures / week

 1 (2 hr)

Laboratories / week

 Group projects: 3 simulations of negotiations/mediations (half a day each) for the entire course

Course Purpose and Objectives

 With unprecedented population growth, new emerging economies and the effects of climate change, pressures on our finite freshwater resources are increasing. Meanwhile, the ability of some nations to secure their water demand requirements is being severely challenged, causing great and legitimate concern that tensions around water hotspots will intensify among water users. This course discusses the hydro-diplomacy as one of the important concepts in the field of water conflict, “a tool to implement peace among riparian countries sharing transboundary water basin”. Hydro-diplomacy employs the technical process of IWRM at the basin level, international relations, economics, environments, politics et cetera to deal with transboundary water resources and conflicts. Thus, the course aims to (i) define the transboundary water resources (surface and aquifer), their types, and challenges, (ii) define the Harmon Doctrine and the unilateral water practices, (iii) define the cooperation and the financial management on transboundary basins, (iv) identify and analyze issues, challenges and potential conflicts of water allocation and access to water resources at different scales, (v) highlight the need for modern diplomatic solutions to mitigate conflict and enable water’s potential for cooperation at the transboundary level and sharing benefits, (vi) use an interdisciplinary approach to critically assess and evaluate water- related conflicts, (vii) apply conflict management tools and design conflict resolution processes with the aim of mitigating water management disputes. apply legal framework such as UNECE 1992 and UN convention of 1997, (viii) introduce the Win-Win Approach to address the transboundary water conflict, (ix) manage a transboundary basin of the nexus approach of water-energy-food security and ecosystem preservation highlighting the SDGs 2, 6, 7 at basin level, (x) and adoption of international (e.g. International law and water diplomacy: UNECE convention 1992, UN convention 1997, and IHP-UNESCO Water Strategy IX, and Paris Water PACT 2015 COP 21) and regional (e.g. African Union) instruments for facilitating the negotiations.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the major challenges threaten transboundary water availability and their impact on achieving national security goals.
  • Characterize the unilateral practices concerning the transboundary water
  • Identify water's potential for conflict and identify some of the world’s main water "hotspots".
  • Recognize water’s cooperation potential and the benefits to be drawn from collaborative transboundary water management between state actors.
  • Analyze how hydro-diplomatic methods based on dialogue may be used to encourage Win-Win solution.
  • Strengthen their expertise and skills in contributing to prevention and mitigation of conflicts related to water and environment, as well as to environmental peacebuilding.



 Required  None 

Course Content

 The Course contents are:
  • Transboundary water resources: an overview and challenges (surface water, groundwater, nonconventional water, extreme events due to global change and climate change).
  • The Harmon
  • Conflict concerning the transboundary water.
  • International law and water diplomacy: UNECE convention 1992, UN convention 1997, and IHP-UNESCO Water Strategy IX, and Paris Water PACT 2015 COP
  • Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystem Nexus, and SDGs 2,6, and
  • Hydro-diplomacy (including the technical, institutional, diplomatic, and political processes).
  • Win-Win Approach
  • Case Studies, reports, negotiations and mediations (including The Orontes River, The Blue Nile Basin and The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), The Tigris and Euphrates, The Jordan River Basin, The Indus River, The Lake Chad River, The Senegal River Initiative, The Rio Grande River, The Transboundary Aquifers, The Danube River Basin, The Sava River Basin, The Drin River Basin, The Amu Darya River Basin, The Syr Darya River Basin, The Aral Sea, and The Dead Sea).

Teaching Methodology

 In class teaching


 • Ballabio, R., Comair, F.G., Scalet, M., Scoullos, M. (2015). Science diplomacy and
transboundary water management: the Orontes River case. UNESCO Publishing.
ISBN9230000175, 9789230000172
• Comair, F. (2018). Hydrodiplomatie et nexus Eau-Energie-Alimentation (French Edition.
JOHANET. ISBN-13:979-1091089371
• Global Water Partnership (GWP).; and the International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO). (2012). The Handbook for Integrated Water Resources Management in
Transboundary Basins of Rivers, Lakes and Aquifers. INBO. ISBN:978-91-85321-85-8
• United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; and the International Network of
Basin Organizations (INBO). (2015). Water and Climate Change Adaptation in
Transboundary Basins Lessons Learned and Good Practices. INBO. ISBN:978-92-1-117083-2


 Coursework, group projects, and presentations



Publications & Media