OSU This Week: Volume 42, Number 24, April 17, 2003

OSU role expanding in managing world water conflict

Oregon State University is expanding its leadership in the arena of international water issues, with a new publication to be unveiled last month in Japan, an evolving partnership with other universities, and a key educational role in a proposed new $10 million initiative that would help manage water conflicts all over the world.

OSU geographers are the lead authors on a new Atlas of International Freshwater Agreements that was presented on March 22 in Kyoto, Japan, by the United Nations Environment Programme at the third World Water Forum. The 184-page atlas outlines 4,500 years of the history of shared water resources as a major force for peace and cooperation, and explores the conflict resolution methods that have been developed with surprising success in this area of critical importance.

Meanwhile, OSU is making continued progress with the Universities Partnership for Transboundary Waters, an educational and training consortium that it founded and helped organize with nine other universities across five continents.

And the most ambitious initiative yet, officials say, may be a new "Water Cooperation Facility," a $10 million program that was proposed at the World Water Forum. It is envisioned as an international support center for managing water conflicts and building consensus. The Universities Partnership, led by OSU, would join forces with the World Water Council; the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO; and the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

"All of our work in this area is important, but this new organization involving UNESCO and the World Water Council could really be a major asset in dealing with international water conflicts," said Aaron Wolf, an OSU associate professor of geography. "It would be able to address the economic, legal, educational and cultural components that are often components of many disputes. We're hoping it will get strong support at the World Water Forum."

The new atlas can be found on the web at www.transboundarywaters.orst.edu.

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