DHAKA, July 21: Dhaka is going to host a major water conference early next year, organizers said here on Saturday, insisting the event is expected to build a greater understanding among nations for basin-wide multilateral management of water resources from common rivers and basins.
Scheduled for January 4 and 5, the conference will focus on 'cooperation' over 'conflicts' that has long been causing sufferings to an estimated 100 crore people living in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, China, and Nepal along the basins of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers.
The river basins are divided by political boundaries, but their water and sediment could be managed by using a multilateral basin-wide approach in order to protect the interests of all co- riparian countries.
Unfortunately, as of now, the dominant approach in managing these resources has been unilateral, with each country trying to manage and utilize the water resources and ecosystems within its own boundary without adequate coordination with other co-riparian countries.
"This approach is not proving conducive to optimal utilization of the resources. Instead, it is often leading to conflicts," said Dr Mohammad Abdul Matin, general secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, one of two co-organisers of the event. Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN) is the other co-host.
Dr. Matin said they have been expecting 70-100 delegates from South and Southeast Asian countries as well as Europe, Canada, America, Australia, Singapore and Japan while up to 300 participants from host Bangladesh. The delegates would cover both experts and activists, he said.
He said the abstracts on different themes of the conference on "Water Resources in South Asia: Conflicts to Cooperation" has been invited from experts with a deadline of July 30 this year, while electronic and organizational communications were on to make the interaction 'as rich as possible'.
He said it is hoped that the conference would allow the participants to rise above narrow national interests and to consider the interests of the rivers and the population inhabiting their basins as a whole.
The conference will review the experience of water development efforts of the countries lying in the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna basins, examine the philosophies and approaches that have guided efforts so far and identify the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches.
Besides, it will also review the experience of basin-wide, multilateral cooperation practiced elsewhere in the world and recommend new approaches to follow in the region.
Asked about successful basin-wide approach in the world, the organizers said there were good examples of such cooperation in Asia, Africa, Europe and some other parts of the world.
The Nile Basin Initiative, Mekong River Commission, Amazon Cooperation Treaty and the Danube Commission are the most successful examples of multilateral cooperation for water management from common rivers, the conference organizers pointed out.
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