Water Resource Management

There are conflicts over water that some fear will lead to war. Conflicts between bordering states, conflicts among countries that are river basin riparian, conflicts between states or regions within a single country, and conflicts over the use of coastal resources all require complex negotiation skills to balance politics, power, science and law. Indopotamia is a multi-part role play simulation that covers all the basic of pre-negotiation preparation, face-to-face multiparty consensus building, and ongoing relationship building among riparians in three countries. Finn River simulates the tensions surrounding inter-provincial water allocations. Successful negotiations hinge on prediction and monitoring arrangements as well as the adequacy of water flows. The Long River simulation brings eight governmental and non-governmental parties together to negotiate an instream flow action plan. The role of science and scientists is very important. Managing Groundwater Beneath the Pablo-Burford Border is a fairly complex negotiation that requires two countries that share a border to figure out how they are going to pursue their separate and competing interests in a period of sever water scarcity. This exercise includes background material on how civil engineers model water supply and demand. Hitana Bay Development Simulation involves the development of a port area for large cruise ships. Ten parties have to reach agreement on proposed port improvements, real estate development and protection of the coastal environment in the Caribbean. While all five of these simulations focus on the details of water management at various scales, they raise critical negotiation and dispute resolution questions including the problem of coping with a lot more than two parties, the prospects of applying mediation or other forms of facilitation in a multi-party context, and the added dilemmas of cross-cultural communication.

Recommended Simulations

Indopotamia: Negotiating Boundary-Crossing Water Conflicts

Indopotamia, by Catherine M. Ashcraft, Lawrence Susskind, and Shafiqul Islam, is a nine-party, five-hour mediated, multi-issue negotiation simulation involving a dispute over the allocation of land and water resources shared by three countries in an international river basin. The simulation provides opportunities to discuss the natural, societal, and political dimensions of science-intensive policy disputes in which high levels of uncertainty are involved. The simulation also introduces water professionals and aspiring water professionals to the Water Diplomacy Framework. Major lessons include the mutual gains approach, negotiating science-intensive policy disputes, and dealing with uncertainty.

Finn River Basin: Negotiating Boundary-Crossing Water Management Agreements

Finn River Basin, by Danya Rumore, Anjali Lohani, and Mubarik Imam, is a seven-party, seven-person, four-hour, multi-issue negotiation simulation involving a dispute over inter-provincial water allocations. It explores issues of prediction and monitoring, water sharing, and the environmental adequacy of water flows. The simulation introduces a mutual-gains approach to negotiation and highlights the benefits of a more collaborative, non-zero- sum approach to managing boundary waters.

Long River: Confronting the Challenges for Instream Flow

Long River, by Catherine Ashcraft and Larry Susskind, is a six-party, seven-person (including the mediator), four-hour, multi-issue mediation simulation involving a dispute over developing an instream flow action plan. A river management action team has been assembled to develop a scientifically sound instream flow action plan for the Long River. The team is made up of the governor’s special assistant and representatives from the State Department of Fish and Game, a nearby Tribe, the Regional Water Supplier, an irrigators’ group, and a coalition of environmental and recreational interests. Unless at least five of the stakeholders on this team can agree on an instream flow action plan, it is very likely that federal regulators and the courts will have to step in and impose restrictions of various kinds. A neutral mediator is assisting the negotiating team. Major lessons of this simulation include the uses of a mutual gains approach to negotiation, mediation, and coalitions in a science-intensive dispute with high uncertainty.

Managing Groundwater Beneath the Pablo-Burford Border

Managing Groundwater Beneath the Pablo-Burford Border, by Lawrence Susskind, is a two-team, ten-person, multi-issue, co-chaired negotiation between representatives of two adjacent countries regarding the transboundary management of a severe water shortage crisis. The fictional countries of Pablo and Burford face a water crisis brought on by extreme water quality and quantity problems. The dismal water situation is largely a result of unsustainable agricultural activities in the borderlands separating the two countries. Major lessons of this simulation include agenda control, option creation, and the impact of BATNA.

Hitana Bay Development Simulation

Hitana Bay, by Lawrence Susskind, is a ten-party, five-hour multi-issue negotiation among government, development, industry, labor, and preservation interests over port improvements, real-estate development, and environmental protection in a Caribbean island harbor expansion. The city of Hitana lies next to Hitana Bay on the Caribbean island of Barhamia. The government of Hitana is currently considering several redevelopment proposals for the region. The Port Authority and major shippers are urging improvements to the deep-water port; the City of Hitana and a private real estate partnership seek to redevelop the warehouse district for business, commercial, and residential use; and the nongovernmental Coalition for Hitana Bay Heritage proposes to take environmental protection measures around Hitana Bay. The Prime Minister’s Office has convened a Task Force that includes representatives of the ten major groups involved in, and potentially affected by, the proposed projects. Major lessons of this simulation include the mutual gains approach to negotiation, coalition building, and crafting contingent agreements.

Recommended Books

Shafiqul Islam and Larry Susskind, Water Diplomacy: A Negotiated Approach to Managing Complex Water Networks, Resources for the Future Press/Routledge, 2013.