On 29 January 2010, the Stimson Center, under the sponsorship of the National Intelligence Council and the US State Department, organized a workshop in Washington, DC, focused on the future of global fresh water resources and the politics of water resource management. The conference brought together more than forty policy practitioners and analysts drawn from government, academia, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, and research institutions in the United States and abroad. Over the course of the day, the assembled experts examined environmental, institutional, and socio-economic trends affecting surface and groundwater supplies in selected regions and assessed dynamics that could contribute to political conflict, perturb regional power relations, or pose humanitarian concerns warranting external engagement.
This report, Fresh Water Futures: Imagining Responses to Demand Growth, Climate Change, and the Politicsl of Water Resource Management, which resulted from the January 29 meeting, considers specific in-country cases, including Yemen and Afghanistan, and transboundary cases including the river basins of the Mekong, Ganges, Mahakali, and Indus rivers. This report also considers criteria for identifying basins where future tensions or instabilities could emerge and assesses the roles that technological innovations, market mechanisms, river basin institutions, and other policy approaches play in the cooperative management of shared water resources.