Prospects for the Implementation of a Water Management Regime in the Brahmaputra River Basin: An Assessment of the Guiding Principles

Babalová, Nora

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The management of transboundary water resources is generally known for its complexity and large number of interconnected social, environmental, economic, and political aspects. The increasing threat of the impact of climate change and water scarcity, combined with the ongoing ‘dam racing’ in the Brahmaputra River Basin, have the potential to sharpen territorial and resource feuds, and trigger greater regional instability. Even though China and India have already signed several bilateral cooperation agreements, the existing institutional arrangements are still weak or even inadequate. Therefore, a new water management regime with strong but flexible norms accepted by all actors must be established. Such transboundary regime should be compatible with the principles of adaptive water management in order to reduce uncertainties or surprises, and improve information sharing, while paying special attention to social and cultural uniqueness of the regions involved. This paper examines the social and environmental implications of China’s and India’s ongoing natural resource quest. It analyses the impact of ongoing dam building activities on the livelihood of downstream riverdependent population and, in particular, addresses whether and how water can become a source of international cooperation and shared prosperity rather than a source of conflict. It argues that the implementation of an effective water management regime that focusses on an adaptive, holistic and mutually beneficial approach is the imperative for future existence and coexistence within the Brahmaputra basin, and should play a key role in preventing and combating the contemporary challenges such as climate change, water scarcity, a damaged ecosystem, and displaced peoples.

Document type: Book
Publisher: SADF - South Asia Democratic Forum
Place of Publication: Brussels
Date: 2017
Version: Secondary publication
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2021
Number of Pages: 40
Faculties / Institutes: Miscellaneous > Individual person
DDC-classification: Political science
Controlled Keywords: Brahmaputra, Wasserkraft, Dammbau
Uncontrolled Keywords: Brahmaputra-Einzugsgebiet, Wassermanagement-Regime, adaptiver Ansatz, Wasserkraft, Dämme, China, Indien, Bangladesch / Brahmaputra River Basin, Water Management Regime, Adaptive Approach, Hydropower, Dams, China, India, Bangladesh
Subject (classification): Politics
Countries/Regions: Bangladesh
Series: Themen > SADF Working Papers
Volume: 4