PROJECT: THE WOMEN IN WATER DIPLOMACY NETWORK IN THE NILE2023 Global Network Update

Invitation to follow our new Women in Water Diplomacy Network LinkedIn page!

By Elizabeth A. Koch, Senior Manager, Environmental Law Institute and Process Support Team Lead, Women in Water Diplomacy Network   

Screenshot of Linkedin page

The Women in Water Diplomacy Network is pleased to announce that we have now launched our own LinkedIn page – https://www.linkedin.com/company/women-in-water-diplomacy-network. We will be using the new page to share information including events, updates, stories from our newsletters, publications and more! Since the page was launched last month more than 800 people have begun to follow our engagements and share in our efforts to elevate women water decision makers.  

Network members and supporters are each invited to take concrete steps to help disseminate information about the Network via our new LinkedIn page including:  

  1. Follow the new Network page!  
  2. Share the page in your Network! 
  3. Like’ posts so they are seen in your network.  
  4. Repost’ updates in your network to increase visibility of our news. 
  5. Add your involvement with the Network to your list of experience on your own LinkedIn profile – this links to our Network page and then you appear among the ‘people’ on the Network page. Examples: ‘Women in Water Diplomacy Network Member; 2017-Present’ or ‘Women in Water Diplomacy Network Process Support Team; 2020-Present’, or ‘Women in Water Diplomacy Leadership Council 2021-Present.’ Check out Lyazzat’s profile for an example here.
  6. Invite your followers to follow our page – you can do this once you have added the Network to your own list of experiences.  
  7. Connect with other Network members on LinkedIn so you can share information and support each other online! 

Elevating Women’s Leadership for Effective Transboundary Water Cooperation – Women in Water Diplomacy Network event on Women in Diplomacy Day held in partnership with the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington DC, USA and online 

By Ashley Dawn Anderson, UCLA Law ‘24, Environmental Law Institute Summer Law Clerk supporting the Women in Water Diplomacy Network, originally published on the Environmental Law Institute’s Blog on July 5, 2023.  

Water is life. All living things depend on water; human society depends on water. We need water for drinking, sanitation, food security, biodiversity, sustainable development—truly everything. Even though water is necessary for life, so many of us lack access to water. Water scarcity and water pollution are worsening, all while water demand is increasing. It is estimated that by 2030 water scarcity could displace 700 million people. The global community needs to work together to address these issues. Women, in particular, need to be at the negotiation table because unsustainable water management disproportionately impacts women and girls. Despite this, women are vastly underrepresented in water management. 

Recognizing the need for women in water diplomacy and, in celebration of the second annual International Day for Women in Diplomacy, a group of organizations—including ELI, the Women in Water Diplomacy Network, U.S. Institute of Peace, and the Stockholm International Water Institute—co-convened an event, Elevating Women’s Leadership for Effective Transboundary Water Cooperation, at the U.S. Institute of Peace on June 20, 2023. The event brought together experts to discuss how we can work to force inclusion in water diplomacy. A recording of the event can be found on ELI’s YouTube channel here. 

The panelists discussed the interdisciplinary nature of water diplomacy, the need for improved and accessible data, feminist foreign policy, and empowering women, youth, and indigenous peoples in water diplomacy. Here are five takeaways from the event: 

  1. Water is connected to everything, and water unites us. All diplomacy should be approached through a water lens. And, water diplomacy must be inclusive of women, youth, and indigenous peoples. 
  2. Unlike climate or biodiversity, there is no United Nations agreement on water, even though water is imperative to global climate and biodiversity goals. Currently, there is nothing holding nations accountable to water, and water diplomacy relies on voluntary commitments. Nations should create and implement comprehensive water plans, such as the U.S. White House Action Plan on Global Water Security, and nations must work together to establish a global agreement on water. 
  3. Organizations should host more formal and informal engagements where water diplomats can convene and share expertise. Additionally, men in leadership roles should be allies and help foster women’s participation. 
  4. Water diplomacy requires scientific data, yet the current data is missing vital information. For example, it frequently lacks qualitative data on the lived experience of women and girls in highly climate-affected regions. This data is necessary to inform equitable and inclusive policymaking. Further, the data we collect must be easily accessible and transparent, especially for vulnerable communities. 
  5. Policymakers and scientists should collaborate with indigenous peoples and, with their free, prior, and informed consent, elevate traditional indigenous knowledge in policy decisions. Elevating traditional knowledge empowers indigenous communities to steward their resources. 

Speakers and panelists at the event included: 

  • Kayly Ober, Senior Program Officer for USIP’s Climate, Environment, and Conflict Program. 
  • Henk W.J. Ovink, the Kingdom of Netherland’s Special Envoy for International Water Affairs. 
  • Elizabeth A. Koch, Senior Manager for ELI’s International Programs and Process Support Lead for Women in Water Diplomacy Network. 
  • Dr. Zodwa Dlamini, Former Chief Delegate and Permanent Representative for South Africa, Lesotho Highlands Water Commission. 
  • Foman Forough, Former Director General of the Kabul River Basin, Afghanistan. 
  • Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of Interior. 
  • Dr. Annalise Blum, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of Interior. 
  • Dr. Aubrey Paris, Senior Advisor, Gender, Climate Change, and Innovation, Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State. 

You can read the full after-action report from this event on the Environmental Law Institute’s website here or view the full event recording here

ORASECOM edging closer to the establishment of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network in the Orange-Senqu Basin  

By Viviane Kinyaga and Dr Zodwa Dlamini

 August 2022 will forever be remembered by members and supporters of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network (WWDN) as the launch of the Network’s ‘Path Forward for Women, Water, Peace and Security’ Global Strategy and the first-ever Global Network Forum held during the Stockholm World Water Week. The leadership of ORASECOM, constituted by the Commissioner Bogadi Mathangwane (Botswana), Commissioner Maria Amakali (Namibia), Advocate Puleng Tlali (Lesotho) and the RSA representative Phuthi Setati, participated in the first-ever Global Network Forum and during the launch of the Global Strategy, Commissioner Bogadi Mathangwane made a special announcement committing ORASECOM to explore ways of establishing WWDN in the Orange-Senqu Basin. Subsequently, in September 2022, discussion with SIWI’s Africa Regional Office in Pretoria commenced, culminating in the development of a concept note that laid the foundation for the development of WWDN. ORASECOM commissioned a study in March 2023 to develop a guiding framework whereupon Dr Zodwa Dlamini, founding member of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network and member of the Network’s Leadership Council, was appointed as a consultant to develop the WWDN guiding framework. The process was twofold, included conducting stakeholder consultative meetings in the four members states of ORASECOM (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa) with the express purpose to inform stakeholders of the intention to establish the Network and to request recommendations and review of the draft framework. The process was extremely fruitful, with stakeholders in all the four countries expressing great enthusiasm and excitement around plans to establish the WWDN in the Orange Senqu, while providing a platform for each country’s priorities to be elevated.  

SIWI and ORASECOM, with support from UNDP’s Global Environment Facility (GEF), are now gearing up towards convening a two-day hybrid regional stakeholder workshop on 7-8 December in Gaborone, Botswana. The objective of the regional stakeholder workshop is to validate the draft Guiding Framework on the Establishment of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network in the Orange-Senqu. The pre-launch workshop will also provide an opportunity for knowledge and information exchange amongst the member states. For further details on the Network in the Orange Senqu or for information on how to join the regional stakeholder validation workshop and pre-launch event, please contact Julienne Ndjiki at julienne.ndjiki@siwi.org. 

Launch of the North American Women in Water Diplomacy Network through partnerships with the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Network, Environmental Law Institute, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, Audubon Society, and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, among others. 

By Faith Sternlieb, PhD, Associate Director of Engagement, Internet of Water Initiative, Center for Geospatial Solutions, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

As all great things emerge from a seed, an idea, a conversation or two, and visionary leaders, so too did  the North American Women in Water Diplomacy Network (NA-WWDN), which had been percolating since the launch of the Women in Water Diplomacy Global Network Strategy at World Water Week (WWW) 2022 in Stockholm, hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute and the Environmental Law Institute (ELI). This meeting provided the time and space for members and supporters of the Global Network to convene and talk to each other in-person for the first time since the COVID shut down. Importantly, it provided a venue for the Network’s North American counterparts from Tribal, Canadian, and U.S. governments to meet and initiate conversations on what a North American Network would look like. 

The March 2023 UN Water Conference in New York was another opportunity for these partnerships to grow. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LILP) and the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) joined the WWDN global partners to host several on and off-site sessions. A highlight was the Water Diplomacy Symposium, a full day event on March 21, 2023, that featured leaders speaking about their experiences from different regions of the world, representing the Global Women in Water Diplomacy Network. The Water Diplomacy Symposium also served as an opportunity to exchange and build partnership with Mexican partners through the engagement of the International Boundary and Water Commission.  

Building on the momentum, the new North American partners and the global WWDN partners gathered with new collaborators, the Water & Tribes Initiative’s Indigenous Women’s Leadership Network (IWLN), the Australian Water Partnership (AWP), and the Stockholm Sámi Association, at WWW 2023 presenting the first-ever First Nations Focus, the largest Indigenous contingency at WWW since its inauguration. Lorelei Cloud, Vice Chair for the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, Co-Chair of IWLN, and member of the Colorado Water Conservation Board among other roles, traveled to Stockholm to participate in the historic gathering and spoke in the session Indigenous Voices in Water Governance. She imparts upon us the importance of lifting indigenous women voices:  

 As women, we understand the importance of supporting other women. Women take on many roles- mother, daughter, leader, teacher, and so on – all in one day. As leaders, we must bring other women along with us and help them be better than we are. The Indigenous Women Leadership Network supports Indigenous women, particularly in the Colorado River Basin, to bridge the knowledge gap, support women in leadership, and help them succeed in their careers. When one woman succeeds, we all succeed.” 

After a series of extremely successful events, NA-WWDN is celebrating its launch through the blossoming partnership between WWDN and the International Joint Commission, the International Boundary and Water Commission, the University of Arizona’s Water Resources Research Center and Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Network, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Audubon Society, Gila River Indian Community and Colorado River Indian Tribes with gracious support provided by the Walton Family Foundation, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Central Arizona Project, the Salt River Project, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, N-Drip, Montgomery and Associates, Freeport McMoRan, and Stantec on December 13, 2023 at the Colorado Water Users Association conference. Our goal is to leverage a broad partnership, which aims to establish a regional Network across the Americas anchored in the Colorado River and Indigenous leadership in alignment with the Network’s ‘Path Forward for Women, Water, Peace and Security’ Global Strategy. 

The North American Women in Water Diplomacy Network aims to host several consultation events in the new year to hear from women water diplomats active at various scales across North American regions and basins. For more information, please reach out to Elizabeth A. Koch at koch@eli.org 

Reflections from the Eleventh Biennial Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy

By Xanani Baloyi, Program Officer and Gender Equality Focal Point, SIWI and Karabo Mokgonyana, Human Rights Advocate

Xanani Baloyi (Program Officer & Gender Equality Focal Point at SIWI) and Karabo Mokgonyana (Human Rights Advocate), both young women water professionals who are network members recently attended the 11th Biennial Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy hosted in Cape Town, South Africa between 23 and 27 October 2023. The overarching theme of the Rosenberg Forum for this year was “reducing conflict in the management of water resources.”, while the sub-theme was “Water Quantity and Quality Management, Economic Production and Welfare Implications in the Global South”. At the heart of the Rosenberg Forum is creating a space where water professionals and policymakers come together to discuss the science of water management and different experiences in water management around the globe.  

During the course of the Rosenberg Forum, it was revealed that problems of managing water are surprisingly common around the world – with case studies from countries like South Africa, Chile, Morocco and Tunisia. However, approaches and solutions may differ depending on the available financial resources as well as social and cultural norms. Discussions of alternative approaches and identification of what works and what doesn’t at the forum were intended to aid in devising more effective and efficient water management schemes. Therefore, the forum helped in emphasizing the role of science in the making of water policy and in the management of water resources and promoted the exchange and interaction between scientists and policy-makers. 

Both Xanani and Karabo participated as invited speakers. Xanani presented on “Institutional and Policy Related Challenges that Limit the Adoption of Improved Agricultural Water Use Technology and Practice: Enhancing Rainfed Agricultural Systems in the Zambezi Watercourse”. Her session was facilitated by Andrea Gerlak, Professor and Director at the School of Geography & Development, University of Arizona. Andrea serves in the Advisory Committee of the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy and is also involved in the North American WWDN development. Karabo presented on “Digital Technology as a Solution to Address Negative Impact of Climate Change on Women’s Agricultural Participation in Sub-Saharan Africa”. Both their presentations brought new perspectives to the forum and provided opportunity for intergenerational exchange by showcasing young experts.  

“It was very refreshing to have intergenerational and intergender conversations on water. This allowed for intersectional exchanges to be had but more so for us young women water professionals to share and cement our voices in spaces we do not ordinarily find ourselves within. It was also a really amazing opportunity to learn from technical experts in the field.” said Karabo Mokgonyana. Xanani remarked that “the Rosenberg International Forum on Water is a great place to connect science, policy development, and implementation. It honours Women in Water Diplomacy values on the role of networks, mentorship, and peer-to-peer learning in the process of water management and offers a great platform for strengthening networks.” 

New Alliance between the OAS Americas Water Program and the Women in Water Diplomacy Network 

Elizabeth A. Koch, Senior Manager, ELI; Women in Water Diplomacy Network Process Support Team Lead and Andrés Sanchez, Manager, Americas Water Program, Organization of American States

We are thrilled to announce a strategic alliance between the OAS Americas Water Program and the Women in Water Diplomacy Network. The Organization of American States Americas Water Program will serve as a pivotal ally in the Americas region, driving the empowerment of women in the hemisphere to actively engage in water-related issues, water governance, and water diplomacy, while also empowering and amplifying existing female leadership. This partnership embodies a shared commitment to advancing gender equality and fostering a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable approach to water management. We are committed to supporting and harnessing the exceptional female leadership that already exists in the region, with the goal of enhancing their ability to have a greater impact, provide guidance, and take the lead in water-related initiatives. Initial steps planned for the coming year include, stakeholder mapping and consultations meetings involving key stakeholders and organizations engaged in transboundary water issues from the Trifinio Region, the Amazon and La Plata Basin communities. Following similar trajectories from other emerging Women in Water Diplomacy Networks a process of consultation is expected to be followed by the adoption of the Global Strategy and identified priorities specific to the basins. Consultation processes for the Americas will kick off in early February with a stakeholder discussion convened by OAS and the Environmental Law Institute. To receive additional information or join upcoming stakeholder consultation meetings please contact Elizabeth A. Koch at koch@eli.org