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Water - a cause for conflict in the 21st century?
From diagnosing the crisis to problem management


'Call for papers' as pdf

The Heidelberg Academy of Sciences (AdW) and the Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg im Breisgau are organising an interdisciplinary conference on the subject "Water - Will it be a cause for conflict in the 21st century" from 1st to 3rd of June, 2007.

The conference is solution oriented and is directed at scientists and practitioners. The number of participants has been limited to 50 persons plus the speakers to ensure an intensive exchange. We request interested colleagues for abstracts that will be allocated to one of the five panels listed below. Selected contributions will be introduced at the conference and will subsequently be published. The language of the conference is German, but individual contributions in English are welcome. Travel expenses, overnight accommodation, meals and conference fees of the lecturers will be covered.

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words and should additionally include a short biographical note. Criteria for selection are scientific innovation, practical usability and orientation towards solutions. Suggestions must be made to wasserkonferenz(at)politik.uni-freiburg.de by 1st February, 2007. The articles will be selected by end of February. Detailed articles are to be submitted by 15th May. There will be an Internet page available from the middle of December onwards under www.wasserkonferenz.de, which contains more detailed information.

Background
Water is an increasingly scarce resource. Due to the constant demand, the available amount of freshwater decreases with population growth, increasing per capita requirements and contamination. According to the scale and basis for data, it is assumed, that 40% to 60% of the world population will suffer from water stress (from 1700m3 per capita and year), water scarcity (1000m3) and lack of water (500m3) by 2025 (Second World Water Report of the UN). All statistical and modelled results of the past years also indicate that climate change causes a clear increase in extreme water related events. Locally available water resources are further reduced due to floods and droughts. Water forms a basis for life but also a risk to health; it is a key factor in global food safety, but also a limiting production factor; it is an object of conflict, but also one of cooperation. Local, violent disputes regarding water are already the order of the day. However, the scenario of water wars can still be averted.

Whereas there is widespread agreement on the diagnosis, there are differing views when it comes to suggestions for solutions. Developing conflict prevention and regulation mechanisms, designing a global water law, enabling an appropriate allocation of resources, achieving scientific bases for an integrated water resource management (IWRM), postulating sustainable handling of water and making this easier, are tasks lying ahead of the different scientific disciplines. The complex combination of ecological, hydrological, cultural, political and social aspects makes an interdisciplinary procedure particularly urgent.

The conference would like to take up this interdisciplinary call and bring together experts from the most different areas of specialisation. The main concern here is the presentation and critical discussion of existing solutions on the cooperative processing of commonly recognised crises. Innovative suggestions for removing hydrological symptoms for crises of an economic, political, legal and sociological kind exist. The conference wants to contribute towards bringing together these strands under the structural generic terms "climate change," "participative crisis management," "regional cooperation," "water laws," "virtual water" and "IWRM."

Parallel to this there will be an innovative and rich presentation, illuminating the cultural and symbolic dimensions of water, an aspect that is often ignored. During the meeting lectures, discussions, films, posters and other materials will intensify the perception that water is always symbolic in a local context and that management solutions must take this specific symbolism into consideration. The presentations on this second level will not compete with the thematic main strand, but must be understood as an accompanying element. Presentations such as posters, short documentation films and other materials will be made available any time as a supplement.

The different disciplines and the two levels will be brought together in a detailed final discussion.

We are looking for contributions for the following panels:

Panel 1: Participative crisis management
What contribution can participative solutions make towards conflict management? Introduction to different methods and case studies (e.g. EU water framework directive, informal participation offers, etc.)

Panel 2: Regional cooperation in cross-border water bodies
Will there be "water wars?"
Riverbed initiatives for cooperative processing of opposite interests
What do they require, what can they do, what is their future? Can they replace global controlling elements? (e.g. Rhein, Danube, Nile, Mekong, Senegal, Parana/La Plata etc.)

Panel 3: Water laws
Water laws on the international level: To whom does a cross-border river belong?
Water laws on the national level
Evaluation of water: Privatisation of water supply

Panel 4: Virtual water
What effect does international trade with virtual water have on national water balances?
Theory and Reality - Who is profiting from virtual water?

Panel 5: IWRM
Chances and problems of integrated water resource management
IWRM and the millennium goals

Organisers:
Anne Gunkel, Institute for Hydrology, University of Freiburg
Hannes Leistert, Institute of Hydrology and Centre for Water Research, University of Freiburg
Timo Menniken, University of Freiburg
Regina Rhodius, Institute for Forest and Environmental Policies, University of Freiburg
Bernd Schlipphak, Seminar for Science and Politics, University of Freiburg
Corina Schneider, Historical Institute, University of Bern

Contact address:
Wasserkonferenz
c/o Bernd Schlipphak
Seminar für Wissenschaftliche Politik
Universität Freiburg
Rempartstr. 15
79085 Freiburg
wasserkonferenz(at)politik.uni-freiburg.de