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The Triangle of Needs: A Framework for Promoting Cooperation in Transboundary River Basins

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Maria Placht, Ali Shafqat Akanda, Sarah Freeman
Ali Shafqat Akanda, Maria Placht, Sarah Freeman 200 College Avenue, Anderson Hall Civil & Environmental Engineering Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA Telephone: +1 603 264 5214

Keyword(s): Euphrates, water, food security, energy, conflict resolution
AbstractThe transition from conflictive to cooperative relations of transboundary river basins inevitably involves the sharing of benefits. A review of environmental agreements demonstrates that they are more likely to succeed if embedded in trade agreements. This paper proposes a framework involving the exchange of water, energy, and food that examines how to share these benefits most efficiently and effectively. Such regional integration of water resource development ensures that all interests and needs are preserved. The water, energy, and food needs of the riparian countries must be integrated to produce optimum benefits for all involved. Tradeoffs between these needs are examined from political, historical, and analytical perspectives. This framework is then applied to the case study of the Euphrates River basin in order to examine its potential for practical application. The Euphrates River supplies the bulk of freshwater to eastern Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Due to water intensive development plans, the projected water demands of these riparians are expected to exceed the total flow of the river around 2025. The threat of water shortage is compounded by the GAP (Southern Anatolia Project), a massive, integrated development project in eastern Turkey, which, once fully operational, will consume a third of the riverís mean annual flow. There have been a few efforts to share data and discuss challenges bilaterally, however there have been no trilateral discussions to jointly manage the waters of the Euphrates. Relations between the three countries have been characterized by distrust and a lack of communication, compounded by unilateral development projects and inefficient water management practices. A framework for cooperation that promotes equitable sharing of the river is vital for peace and sustainable development in the region. Parallel to the existing Track II efforts, mediators can provide a forum needed for a productive discussion on sharing water, energy, and food security. An analysis of trade options shows potential for a regional agreement if all parties are willing to accept the necessary tradeoffs. The proposed framework concludes that benefit sharing will promote regional stability by integrating basin development and the broader riparian interests.
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