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WWF-Pakistan conducts National Consultative Workshop on Transboundary Water Issues

Posted on 24 May 2017

Islamabad,WWF-Pakistan hosted a one-day National Consultative Workshop on Transboundary Water Issues under the theme of ‘Perspectives, Interventions and Responses’ at a local hotel in Islamabad. The focus of the workshop was to find solutions to potentially contentious regional issues by identifying transnational threats and challenges; management of shared natural resources; and increasing the capacity on a national and regional level of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for the prevention of conflicts which might arise due to lack of a viable regional framework governing transboundary rivers. The workshop was a continuation of a provincial workshop held earlier this year which aimed to enhance collaboration, knowledge sharing, experience and best practices on internal and transboundary water.

Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan, in the opening session highlighted the importance of such consultations both in India and Pakistan. “The main objective of this workshop is to engage resilient civil society on both sides of the border in a constructive debate. Transboundary water issues are sensitive issues but at least we should create a conducive environment where apprehensions and recommendations can be shared.”

Sheraz Jamil Memon, Additional Commissioner, Pakistan Commission on Indus Waters (PCIW), was of the opinion that the general understanding of the Indus River Treaty in Pakistan is sketchy which has not helped in normalising water ties with neighbours. “We believe that the media should play its role in educating the masses and should avoid a knee jerk reaction on issues regarding transboundary rivers. The only option we have is to engage in bilateral talks to resolve water disputes by addressing conflicting needs and priorities of upstream and downstream countries.”

Pakistan’s freshwater resources give an insight into the many varied ecological and societal activities of the country and the intimate ways how this resource affects other aspects of development, such as food security, industrialization and foreign policy. The Indus River Basin— a shared water resource between Pakistan and India— remains an integral part of Pakistan's economic growth and prosperity, and is already showing signs of being stressed to its limits and is expected to lose its capacity to support future water needs for Pakistan.

Among the many unresolved challenges the only way forward is to integrate information on future hydro-climatological conditions into the politically complex system of transboundary water agreements, including formal treaties, international agreements, and transnational management institutions.

Since transboundary watersheds traverse political and jurisdictional lines, heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting national laws and regulatory frameworks which make management a challenge, particularly when no single national government has authority over another. As such, transboundary water management often requires the creation of international guidelines or specific agreements among riparian states. These arrangements typically take two forms: general principles of international behaviour and law, and specific bilateral or multilateral treaties negotiated for particular river basins.


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