Blue Peace: Water as an asset for peace

High-level government representatives from Central Asia and West Africa standing in front of a large water pipe.
Government representatives from Central Asia learning methods of peaceful cross-border water cooperation at the Senegal River basin. © SDC

Water will in the future be more important than any other geopolitical resource, including crude oil, with demand set to rise more than 50% by 2030. This will also increase the risk of conflict over water, a vital resource. With the FDFA’s lines of action as part of the Blue Peace initiative, Switzerland is contributing technical and policy solutions to political dialogue in the regions concerned.

Water is crucial to security. It has become a key element not only in the fight against poverty, but also in the context of peace and political stability. Due to demographic growth, economic development, urbanisation, pollution and climate change, this resource, which is limited and unevenly distributed across the globe, is under ever-greater pressure.

Issues relating to water access are causing conflict in several regions of the world. Even greater tensions can arise when water resources are scarce, droughts occur or armed conflict prevents access.


Switzerland offers countries its support in managing their water resources more effectively and in reducing tensions between different users (private consumers, the energy industry, agriculture, etc.) at both the national and regional levels. Through the Blue Peace initiative launched in 2010, Switzerland is supporting both cross-border cooperation and national platforms for dialogue on water access issues. Blue Peace is based on the idea that managing water resources around the world fairly and efficiently helps to achieve sustainable peace. Switzerland has extensive experience in promoting dialogue and working out compromises. It also has recognised water management expertise at political level and in relation to academia, the private sector and civil society. In 2015, Switzerland came together with 14 other states to set up the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace. In late 2017, the panel published its recommendations in the final report 'A Matter of Survival'.

'A Matter of Survival', final report of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace

The 'Swiss toolbox'

Switzerland has wide-ranging expertise in the peaceful management of water resources shared with neighbouring countries. As stretches of two major European rivers, the Rhône and the Rhine, flow through the country, and a number of lakes extend across its borders, Switzerland has long experience in transboundary water management and can assist in developing solutions for other parts of the world.

Switzerland has a range of foreign policy instruments to meet the current challenges:

Development cooperation
The SDC works to improve access to water and sanitation and ensure equitable management of water resources.

Humanitarian aid
The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit provides relief in crisis and conflict situations to meet the water needs of the affected populations, and works on preventive measures to minimise the impact of natural disasters such as flooding.

Instruments to ensure human security and promote international law
These are used, for example, to promote dialogue in water-related conflicts.

Bilateral diplomatic relations with states
In countries facing major water and security-related risks, Switzerland systematically addresses these issues.

Bilateral and multilateral

The Swiss toolbox is used both bilaterally and multilaterally. At a bilateral level, for instance, Switzerland's water diplomacy encourages various consumers to cooperate on water management, thus contributing to peaceful societies.

At multilateral level, Switzerland lobbied for the availability and sustainable management of water and for access to sanitation to be included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also plays an active role in discussing the topic of water and security within regional organisations, particularly the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).


Current projects

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Soutien au Panel Global de Haut Niveau pour l’Eau et la Paix

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2020

Le Panel Global de Haut Niveau pour l’Eau et la Paix, initiative fer de lance initié par la Suisse ainsi que 14 pays co-parrains, a été lancée avec succès le 15 novembre 2016 dans le cadre du projet Blue Peace Global. L’objectif de cette phase est d’assurer la bonne continuation des travaux du Panel, soutenu par le GWH (7F-08448.02) et le Strategic Foresight Group, ainsi que d’assure par la suite la promotion de leurs recommandations au plus haut niveau politique.

Global Blue Peace: Le Pôle Eau de Genève pour l’eau, la paix et la sécurité

01.04.2017 - 31.07.2020

Le Pôle Eau de Genève – Geneva Water Hub (GWH) regroupe les capacités centrales pour l’hydrodiplomatie au sein de la Genève internationale. En s’appuyant sur ses trois composantes (savoir & éducation, think tank, réseau), le GWH agit comme Secrétariat du Panel Global de Haut Niveau pour l’Eau et la Paix (7F-09770.01) et de son groupe d’amis. L’objectif de cette seconde phase est de poursuivre les réalisations du GWH pour l’hydrodiplomatie ainsi que de procéder à son institutionnalisation.

Central Asia : Water Accountability in Transboundary Chu and Talas River Basins

15.12.2016 - 31.12.2020

Effective water resources management requires data management capacities for proper decision-making at different scales. In this context, a modern, Multi-Level Distributed Water Information Systems is a management instrument that provides stakeholders’ gateways for judicious and sustainable water resources management. The project is aiming at introducing such a modern management information system in transboundary Chu and Talas river basins to improve water accountability and transparency.

Water Security in the Middle East (Blue Peace)

01.04.2016 - 31.05.2020

In the Middle East, the increasingly precarious situation of water resources demands stronger regional cooperation than ever before. Set against this background, the Blue Peace approach aims at contributing to peace building through combined political and technical dialogues, which are substantiated in concrete regional projects and direct impact activities on the ground. Together with the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) and local partners from academia, international organisations, civil society and private sector, SDC is able to promote policy and concrete solutions for sustainable development serving those threatened by water scarcity and conflict.

Water Diplomacy and Governance in key Transboundary Hot Spot

01.01.2016 - 30.04.2019

With growing water scarcity, collaboration in the management of transboundary waters becomes a building block of international security, regional stability and economic growth. Implemented in four synergistic partial actions, this programme contributes to an equitable, sustainable and inclusive management and governance of transboundary lakes, rivers and aquifers in Africa, Asia, Meso- and Southern America.

SuizAgua América Latina - El Agua nos Une

Fabricato - industrial water treatment and reuse plant

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2020

Water management being one of the main challenges of the 21st century, the generation of knowledge to make decisions and collaboration between different sectors; are the axis of the present and future well-being of humanity. The initiative “El Agua Nos Une” articulates the work of public institutions, business associations and research organisations. It aims at: i) scaling corporate water stewardship in Colombia; ii) strengthening knowledge on water uses, particularly in the agricultural sector; iii) contributing to the national water quality and quantity monitoring program; iv) developing an investment scheme in ecosystem services; and; v) facilitating a community of practice on water footprint and corporate water management in Latin America

National Water Resources Management in Uzbekistan

01.09.2013 - 31.12.2019

This project aims at supporting the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources in the water management, by strengthening their capacities at local and central levels, by improving the management of water-related data within the country and by supporting the establishment of strategic and legislative framework conditions for the development of the water sector. To improve the prevention of flood-related disasters and the preparedness of the authorities and the population, a pilot project will be carried out on a small river shared by Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Water Diplomacy and Governance in key Transboundary Hot Spots

01.04.2013 - 30.06.2016

Avec une concurrence pour l’accès à l’eau toujours plus intense, le partage des bénéfices des eaux transfrontières (rivières, bassins hydrographiques, eaux souterraines) représente un défi majeur pour les pays riverains, voire à l’échelle mondiale. Ce programme contribue à une utilisation durable et équitable de ces eaux par des accords intergouvernementaux, issus de mécanismes de consultations consensuels et inclusifs entre les Etats concernés, en Asie centrale, Amérique centrale, Afrique de l’Est et australe.

Central Asia: Promotion of Interstate Water Management Cooperation on Transboundary Chu and Talas Rivers

01.03.2013 - 31.12.2016

Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have set up Interstate Commission for joint management of water resources in the basins of Chu river and of Talas river. However, a serious challenge for integrated water resources management remains to establish a data management system for which capacities are increasingly depleting. The proposed project will establish a monitoring system for both basins by upgrading the monitoring infrastructure generating real time data and capacities in both basins, thus supporting the Interstate Commission in decision making based on solid analysis and data.

High Quality Insurance and Survey of the Water Initiatives Portfolio

01.02.2013 - 30.06.2017

Le programme global Initiatives Eau de la DDC en collaboration avec ses partenaires et les autres départements positionne la Suisse comme un acteur pertinent sur la crise globale de l’eau, ceci dans un contexte international et une architecture de l’aide complexes. Cette initiative accroîtra encore la pertinence et l’acuité du portefeuille par une évaluation par des pairs (peer-review) menée par des experts de pointe, une cartographie et infographie homogène, ainsi que la création de synergies entre les projets. Dans ce cadre, la stratégie du programme global Initiatives Eau sera revue.

Global Blue Peace

01.10.2012 - 31.05.2017

L’insécurité de l’eau est source ou élément d’instabilité sociale et politique à grande échelle avec des répercussions sur la paix et la sécurité dans le monde. Le projet soutiendra l’élaboration d’un cadre global pour l’eau et la sécurité, ainsi que la mise en place d’une plateforme globale dans le cadre de la Genève internationale, le Water Pôle Eau. Cette plateforme se profilera comme un centre de compétence sur l’eau et la paix, mettant à l’échelle mondiale l’approche Blue Peace pour favoriser un dialogue entre les acteurs politiques, socio-économiques et du secteur de l’eau.

Object 13 – 24 of 28