Sunday, January 31, 2010

Time management

There is a Google calendar now available for us. I don't know if that's what we needed, but at least we have a shared platform for deadlines and actions. :) I try to fill that out whenever needed.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Helsinki rulz! (+ the Convention)

I've been trying to understand what kind of legislation exist that regulates or guides the use/management/protection of transboundary waters. For what I now know, there are at least two important laws: (1) Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses, (2) The Helsinki Rules on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers. So I read them, and thought I'd summarize you the content AND character of those laws and in the end I'll tell some of my own observations or reflections. Voilá!

Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses
  •  The convention was adopted in 1997 by the UN and was decided to enter force when 35 countries would ratify the document. In november 2009 there were 18 signatories, which means, that the convention is not yet in force.
  • The convention discusses the uses and protection of all waters that cross international borders, including surface and groundwater.
  • Parts of the convention are for example:
    • Definition of important concepts
    • The relation of the convention with other similar agreements
    • Definition of equitable and reasonable utilization of waters: what are the relevant factors that must be taken into account?
    • Obligation not to cause significant harm to other watercourse states
    • Obligation to exchange data and information on the condition of the watercourse between states
    • The correct procedure of notificating other watercourse states of planned measures
    • Regulations on protection and preservation of ecosystems nearby transboundary watercourse
    • Emergency situations: notification, appropriate measures
    • Settlement procedure of possible disputes between the watercourse states
The Helsinki Rules on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers
  • The law was adopted by the International Law Association in Helsinki in 1966.
  • Rules of the law are applicable to the use of an international drainage basin except if some other convention or agreement among the basin state provides otherwise.
  • Parts of the law are for example:
    • Equitable utilization of waters: every basin state has right to a reasonable and equitable share in the beneficial uses of the waters. Factors that have to be taken into account when defining a reasonable and equitable share.
    • The responsabilities of each state in the prevention and reduction of water pollution.
    • The correct procedure for settlement and prevention of disputes.
Are you still following? As I haven't studied law, I guess there is a lot I didn't understand completely, but I think I more or less know now what is the content of transboundary water laws/agreements. Some time ago, when I was doing my bachelor thesis, I became familiar with the River Uruguay Statute, which is a similar agreement as these two, but regional, made by two countries. Despite the scale difference, I remember that the content of the statute was pretty much the same as in these two global once, just more detailed. So by knowing these two documents one can more or less now what is always taken into account when making such an agreement - global or regional.

How I understood the character of the Convention is that it was aimed to facilitate the making of more detailed regional agreements on the use of transboundary waters, as the regional agreements are often insufficient or don't even exist.

Some questions that I started wondering when reading these texts:

 Why hasn't the Convention been ratified by more than 18 states? Has the promotion been insufficient or is it because of the content of the Convention?   

What is the real potential of this kind of international laws/agreements? Can they really have real influence on a regional scale, prevent conflicts or facilitate the making of regional agreements? What are the hindrances?

Ok, next time I'll probably post you something about the stakeholder analisis that we are going to do together on monday. Btw, I think our last meeting was good! In the end I felt that we had a consensus of what we are doing, which is not obvious :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Development politics and actions around water issues: material and "to do -list"


I've been googleing... Must say, that I've got too many ideas and things to consider here... I've been writing down all my thoughts, and collected some reference material also on a word document. There is a start, let's say for an Introduction at least. I want to share some of my thoughts right now here, so that you can also continue brainstorming.

First of all, couple of links I've been reading (those include more links, and even more info behind the topics). Unfortunately these are in Finnish. However, I can share the main points of these in the meeting! Main thing I've tried to undestand here: what is the role of water in development politics (in Finland)? How is UN handling water issues at the moment? So, different backgrounds on global water issues...

Then, those questions that rose to my mind:
  • What kind of water use exists in transboundary water areas? cases.
  • What kind of examples we want to take to this project?
  • Any other similar centers already in other countires?
  • What is UN's role in transboundary water issues? UN has declared a "water decade" in year 2005.
  • Water conflicts/crises: what kind of cases there are? Any cooperative instances already solving problems like these? Good material/references (Martti Ahtisaari's team)? However, conflicts are our cases and examples here!
Any other thoughts from you? What kind of focus you've had when reading your materials?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Facts and challenges of transboundary water management

hi all,
i got some points specifying the recent facts which emphasize the importance of having a transboundary water management center.It is also obvious that there are challenges to analyze and overcome while thinking of an initiation for an international transboundary water center.

WHY TWC? Some facts
-90% of worlds popln lives in countries sharing international rivers(world bank)
-more countries r experiencing water stress(supply < 1700m3/person annually)
-as water scarcity faces high demands transboundary competition for shared rivers and water resources grow
-mechanisms(instituitions)to manage water resource disputes r absent or unsatisfactory(UNESCO and Green cross intnl,2003)
Since transboundary waters extend hydrological interdependence among nations and countries, managing this interdependence is a crucial task for z international community.

In my opinion and from the references more impt of the challenges to take into account in TWM for upstream and downstream countries r

-interdependence and competition for limited supply of water
-impacts on water quality- water usage by upstream countries
-economic and military power imbalance
-timing of water flows- released water amount(when & how much)
-z need for legal bindings and agreements

And through TWM by TWC we expect equitable use of water resources,protection for transboundary resources and reduced water conflicts among nations.
we also have an additionally suggested use of z TWC:to have a role in controlling the ratification of UN water courses convention.

taking basin level cooperation as an example for proper TWM some interesting ways suggested r

1).Financial resource flows-India's contribution to pakistan for irrigation(Indus Waters Treaty)

.Trade in energy resources-creation of markets in hydropower(Brazil purchasing electricity from Paraguay's Itaipu dam, kenya recently agreed to purchase electricity from Ethiopia from gibe hydroelectric pjct)

2.Data sharing-data gathering for effective basin management(Mekong commitee)

3.Political linkages-Israel Jordan water accord was part of their peace agreement in 1994.
i will try to see other pts

N.B There r online srcs that we can check if they help

Transboundary water conflicts in the middle east and north Africa

TWM for intl public good by Swedish ministry for foreign affairs (

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jan 18, Lecture notes by Heini

Jan 18, 2010 Lecture #1


Development Project

- Relevance: who needs, what needs?

- Impact: continues afterwards, or not?

-> Sustainability

=> What are the real needs?

Beneficiaries/target group?

Who should define the objectives; plan the projects?

- Users?

- Stakeholders?

- Experts?

- Political instances?

- NGOs?

Objectives should be based on analyses:

- social, economical, environmental, institutional, technical etc..

-> Solutions can vary depending on who is looking the problem, the point of view

-> Without proper analyses the project may not be relevant!

How to make a result that continues after the project?

- Many development projects lack of sustainability

- The action becomes dependent on the project

- Development projects are usually long, 5-10 years, which affect the dependence

- Involved stakeholders, easily 20-30

- Within a community, there are always different subgroups and different needs

Planning should always begin from beneficiaries

- However, there are always those who don’t benefit

- Participatory approaches needed (though people don’t often know all possibilities)

o Good participation

o Understand the needs, but also experts can give alternatives

Objective definition: 3 levels

  1. What are we aiming at? What would be the impact for the beneficiaries? Everybody should be involved the final idea.

- Different impacts with different interests, for example water: health, nutrition, agriculture, economic substances…

  1. Immediate objective

- Operation maintenance system

  1. Outputs (results): what kind of milestones during the project?

- Training, guideline manuals etc…

-> These will lead to immediate objectives

How do we plan a project?

- Analyze: what is the problem and what are the causes?

- Make it as concrete as possible on table!

- Project plan is a tool to implement the project


- Are we gaining the impacts?

Ideas and reading material

Hi all,

yesterday I got some ideas, and I drew a mindmap around this topic. Actually, there could be three different kind of points of view:
1. what kind of waters and geographical/biological elements there are around transboundary waters, i.e. ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
2. what kind of needs for those waters are existing, i.e. WATE
3. what kind of cases there are globally, and what kind of conflicts/solutions exist, i.e. CASES
So, take a look at that mindmap attached above! Actually, that Fray Bentos case... At the moment, I'm reading a book, see the link: (in Finnish). That is about agricultural business in Latin America, and especially the case of a pulp mill in Uruguay. There has been lots of political disagreements between Argentina and Uruguay, wether the mill is environmentally not good by the river between those two countries. If I find something interesting from that book, we can take couple of sentences from there as well.

However, I'm at work at the moment, so I must run back to my daily tasks! I'll add some stuff here later.


I will also write down my notes from the first lecture, in case they will help us.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's a start

First of all, welcome to follow our blog!

I hope it will become very active and interactive, meaning that each of us participants will write a lot of posts and that it will not be just us commenting on each other but rather all the hundreds of followers (that we will soon have, for sure) writing their comments, questions and random thoughts to us. I'm personally very enthusiastic about writing a blog of the process rather than doing some learning diaries, because that's so 2000, or... because I just like to do it in a new way and see potential for good interaction here.

Anyway, first lecture has been held and our group formed. I will now try to concentrate on my tasks: reading about international legislation and guidelines related to transboundary water management. Sounds a bit heavy but interesting.

Let the project begin!