Water diplomacy is part of important negotiations in Central Asia

On 23-25 September 2019 Almaty hosted the “Regional training on water diplomacy with a special emphasis on negotiation skills and mediation with gender considerations”. The event was organized by the Secretariat of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Vienna (OSCE), Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC), with the support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The training was conducted for the participants of the 10th Anniversary Central Asian Leadership Program (CALP) on Environment for Sustainable Development.

The main goals of the three-day training:

  • Assisting to create the Community of Practice for Young Leaders on Water Cooperation in Central Asia and Afghanistan, providing capacity building and setting up the professional networks;
  • Promoting more inclusive decision-making and the strengthening women’s role in regional water management issues;
  • Strengthening political dialogue and cooperation between key regional players;
  • Creating opportunities for facilitating dialogue and implementing joint actions by creating new perspectives and innovative ideas developed through inclusive decision-making.

The training was moderated by international experts and leading trainers from the International Center for Water Cooperation (under the auspices of UNESCO) / Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) Ms. Elizabeth Yaari and Mr. Kerry Schneider, experts from the OSCE Secretariat Ms. Sogol Jafarzadeh and Ms. Giulia Sechi, CAREC Water Initiative Support Program staff and alumni of previous regional training courses on gender mainstreaming in water management.

Speakers of the training highlighted that potential opportunities at the end of the training could be the introduction or expansion of a dialogue in an informal setting, enhancing mutual understanding of common risks and benefits, and promoting the development of a regional vision for water issues.

The training was conducted on gender-sensitive water diplomacy. Water management issues and conflict resolution need to be addressed in a complex way, therefore prevention of conflicts and the provision of integrated security in Central Asia through increased participation of women might lead to positive results. As the participants themselves noted, this training allowed them to expand their knowledge and skills in conducting international negotiations and mediation, to learn more about water diplomacy and gender features of work in the framework of problems on transboundary waters, and to gain an experience as diplomats and negotiators.

This training has become an integral part of the “Women, Water Resources Management and Conflict Prevention – Phase II” project, following the “Regional training seminar on gender mainstreaming and conflict resolution in water resources management”, successfully held in 2015 in Almaty. There was also a continuing education course for women water specialists in Central Asia conducted in Copenhagen the same year, which led to the organization of an annual mentoring program.

As part of the Regional Training on Water Diplomacy with gender considerations-2019 representatives of Stockholm International Water Institute and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe made interactive presentations. In the course of two consecutive days, participants and speakers simulated the situation and worked out negotiations as part of a role-playing game to resolve controversial issues in the field of water diplomacy. As a result of the training, the young leaders received certificates confirming their active participation in the “Regional training on water diplomacy with a special emphasis on negotiation skills and mediation with gender considerations”.