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The Management of International Rivers as Demands Grow and Supplies Tighten: India, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh

Listed author(s):
  • Crow, Ben
  • Singh, Nirvikar

In this study, we describe the challenges of managing Himalayan rivers as a result of climate change and the industrialization and economic growth of India and China. We discuss a range of conceptual issues relevant for negotiations over the management of Himalayan rivers. We introduce the concept of multi-track diplomacy, and apply it to the case of international river management, in the context of innovations incorporated in five international treaties signed in 1996 and 1997. We examine past problems with bilateralism in international river diplomacy, in particular as an obstacle to successful agreement and the potential of more multilateral approaches. We describe the wave of Himalayan water projects being designed and constructed at the beginning of the twenty-first century, based on earlier agreements as well as new initiatives. We note the subsequent implementation problems that have arisen, and the substantial issues that need to be addressed by an expanded group of countries depending on Himalayan rivers. Finally, we consider directions in which current innovations might be extended as bases of regional cooperation, using the multi-track diplomacy framework. We suggest that an independent regulatory agency could facilitate rational development, assist in the management of substantial uncertainties about future flows, and reduce the potential for conflict. We describe the possible structure and functioning of such a new institution.

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Paper provided by Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz in its series Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series with number qt48n485pc.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2009
Handle: RePEc:cdl:glinre:qt48n485pc
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  1. Geof Wood, 1999. "Contesting water in Bangladesh: knowledge, rights and governance," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(5), pages 731-754.
  2. Shah, Tushaar & Scott, C. & Kishore, A. & Sharma, A., 2003. "Energy-irrigation nexus in South Asia: Improving groundwater conservation and power sector viability," IWMI Research Reports H033885, International Water Management Institute.
  3. S. Mahendra Dev, 2008. "India," Chapters,in: Handbook on the South Asian Economies, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  4. Paul, Bimal Kanti, 1995. "Farmers' Responses to the Flood Action Plan (FAP) of Bangladesh: An empirical study," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 299-309, February.
  5. Q. Ahmad, 2003. "Regional Cooperation in Flood Management in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Region: Bangladesh Perspective," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 28(1), pages 191-198, January.
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