A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Greywater Diplomacy & Conflict Transformation

Lawrence Susskind of MIT is one of the grand masters of urban planning and conflict resolution. He has written many books; one of my favorites is *Dealing with an Angry Public* which should be required reading for any individual who works with the public, such as regulatory agencies. And he maintains a great blog - The Consensus Building Approach - which also should be required reading for public agency personnel and just about anyone who works with *wicked* problems related to climate change and other natural resource issues.

His most recent posting is titled Water Diplomacy where he describes that "...there are societal forces (politics, economics and culture) and natural forces (water quantity, water quality and ecosystems) all of which have to be managed at the same time". This is exciting as it is first time that I recall Dr. Susskind tracking water resources issues exclusively.

Where does *greywater* fit into the grand scheme of water diplomacy?

"Sometimes water can be recycled or re-used a second time for a second purpose if the right kind of infrastructure is put in place and cooperative administrative arrangements are maintained. Shifting away from wasteful practices is the same as adding additional water supplies. The invention of new technologies or a shift to less wasteful practices can not only save water, but multiply its usefulness. So, water supplies are not actually limited and the smart management of water networks can create the equivalent of new supplies. The issue is how to move away from zero-sum confrontations to collaborative informal problem-solving that can create *water gains*."

"Water networks have multiple nodes or dimensions. Some of these nodes are natural and some are made by people. Nodes may be located in a single place or be part of a far-reaching global (ecological, economic or institutional) network. Some nodes may have great cultural significance. Effective management of water networks requires negotiation among and on behalf of all these different nodes. Unfortunately, most water system managers do not have the skills in engineering design, environmental science, and negotiation to do this. Historically, the way most water professionals have been trained emphasizes only one or two of these disciplines or dimensions".

Larry Susskind also announced his new The Water Diplomacy Workshop (WDW). You can read more about it at www.waterdiplomacy.org. His goal is to build an international network of water professionals who share a commitment to a mutual gains approach to water network negotiation and who are ready and able to teach this approach to others. This is similar to the approach that UNESCO is using in their Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential (PCCP) for a group of African water experts, a program administered by friend and colleague Léna Salamé. WDW meets in Boston from June 13, 2011 - June 17, 2011. This site is worth a visit because he has posted some very new materials on this topic that can be downloaded for free.

Professor Aaron Wolf and I have offered a course similar in scope over the past few years which has more of a focus on Water Governance and Conflict Transformation as part of the Certificate in Water Conflict Management and Transformation at Oregon State University, but it is difficult to separate the fields of water diplomacy, hydropolitics, water governance, and conflict transformation. Unfortunately, our course meets the same week as the WDW.

Damn! I would probably attend his workshop simply because I think Larry Susskind is a visionary. He has been honorably mentioned elsewhere on the Rainbow Water Coalition regarding the value of the media in educating the public, something that the Oregon Graywater Advisory Committee at first considered laughable during the Advisory Committee process, but now have apparently changed their minds given the recent press coverage here and here regarding the Draft Rules. Kudos to them for this important transformation in thinking when it comes to dealing with a potentially *angry public*.

And the connection to greywater you ask?

We use the Oregon Graywater Experience as a case study in our course!

Want to learn more about the Certificate curriculum? Many of our courses are also offered online.

1 comment:

  1. In all this what is happening is there is no one made responsible for the contamination of the water which is a major problem.There has to be responsibility of every individual to look after the waters.