November 6-8, 2014
Monterey Marriott & the Institute, Monterey
Water, a basic human need, a human right, is a limited resource. The eternal conflict over access to and control of water has been made more complex in recent times with climate change, privatization, damming and water exploitation for industrial and other commercial use. Poor water management, increased water pollution and unconstrained use of power for control over this resource makes conflicts over water a huge impediment to building an egalitarian, just, sustainable and peaceful society.
Water conflicts are also asymmetrical in that they impact the vulnerable sections of society – women, children and other marginalized groups – more negatively. The unpredictability of water as a resource adds to the problem, making negotiations and resolutions of water conflicts extremely challenging. After all, water gives life but it can destroy too. The paradox of water in the real world demands that conflict resolvers remain innovative, flexible and most importantly, comfortable working in grey zones.
So, how do water conflicts really get resolved? What innovative efforts have been made to bring warring parties in a water conflict to meet at least halfway on the bridge, if not cross the bridge entirely? Most importantly, how can we use water, often a source of conflict, as a means to resolve the conflict, that is, to build those bridges with water?
This conference aims to highlight the complexities of water conflicts and share approaches made by conflict resolvers, communities, institutions and governments in resolving these conflicts.
Growing only in murky ponds, the beautiful Lotus flower is a sacred ancient symbol of many religions and civilizations. It stands for purity, strength, harmony and unlimited potential. This beautiful flower gives us hope that even in the midst of messy (water) conflicts, it is possible to find solutions that are innovative and enduring. A bridge symbolically creates harmony by bringing people together and helping them create new relationships through water. The lotus strikes a balance between humility and pride and it is our hope that water, a source of life, will be treated with humbleness and cherished when shared.
Dr. Pushpa Iyer
Director, Center for Conflict Studies
Associate Professor, Middlebury Institute of International Studies