ICWC Water Dialogues: The Spirit of Dialogue: Lessons from Faith Traditions in Transforming Water Conflict
Welcome to the eight seminar in the Water Dialogues series, co-hosted by the International Centre for Water Cooperation (ICWC) and SIWI Swedish Water House.
Guest Expert: Dr Aaron Wolf, Director of the Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, USA and Visiting Professor of Water Diplomacy at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.
In the West, we are generally trained to base our approach to managing water conflicts on rationality: “People will agree when it’s in their interest to agree.” Tools typically focus on what is measurable and quantifiable. We “separate the people from the problem” and “insist on objective criteria.” If only we could see the tangible benefits of cooperating, we are taught, we simply would.
Over Aaron Wolf’s 20 years as a facilitator and scholar working through and studying conflicts over shared water resources around the world, he has come to appreciate both the limitations of the rational models on which we in the West base our understandings of conflict and cooperation and the wisdom, constructs, and practical tools of the world’s faith traditions in working toward deep and healthy interactions around contentious issues. He has spent 2 years traveling the world and 8 intervening and subsequent years of reading and discussing these questions with practitioners from a variety of the world’s faith traditions and with those who have negotiated conflicts in a breadth of settings.
Wolf draws lessons from a diversity of faith traditions to transform conflict. True listening, as practiced by Buddhist monks, as opposed to the “active listening” advocated by many mediators, can be the key to calming a negotiator’s anger. Alignment with an energy beyond oneself, what Christians would call grace, can change self-righteousness into community concern. Shifting the discussion from one about interests to one about common values—both farmers and environmentalists share the value of love of place—can be the starting point for real dialogue. These and other practical lessons will be presented.
About the speaker
Dr Aaron T. Wolf is a Professor of Geography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. His research and teaching focus is on the interaction between water science and water policy, particularly as related to conflict prevention and resolution. He has acted as a consultant to the World Bank and several international government agencies on various aspects of transboundary water resources and dispute resolution. Wolf is a trained mediator/facilitator, and directs the Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation, through which he has offered workshops, facilitations, and mediation in basins throughout the world. He coordinates the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database, and is a co-director of the Universities Partnership on Transboundary Waters. He has been an author/editor for seven books, as well as almost 50 journal articles, book chapters, and professional reports on various aspects of transboundary waters. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Water Diplomacy at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.
12:00 Light lunch is served
12:30 Welcome, Swedish Water House
12:35 Introduction, Elizabeth Yaari, Programme Manager, SIWI
12:40 Presentation, Dr Aaron Wolf, Director of the Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, USA, and IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.
13:10 Discussion, Elizabeth Yaari, Programme Manager, SIWI
About the ICWC Water Dialogues
The ICWC is an independent research institute hosted by SIWI, and is delivered in partnership with the Swedish Government and UNESCO. The Water Dialogues aim to deepen understanding of transboundary waters as a catalyst for cooperation in Sweden.