Is Water a Driver of Peace and Conflict?

Panel Discussion

With increasing competition over the availability of freshwater sources, both on a transboundary and national scale, water resources can be a trigger of conflict, water could serve as a weapon in conflict, and could be a casualty of wars. Furthermore, it can be a source of peace, cooperation, and sustainable development.

On the 11th of May, YPI will dive into the water-peace-and-conflict-nexus with the help of four experts in the field. Together we will discover the different roles of water in conflict and its effects on a transboundary and national scale. We will dive into how water can also be a source of peace and cooperation in different stages: prevention and risk mitigation, during the eruption of conflict, and on the road towards peace.

Thursday, 11 May 2023

 Leiden University, Wijnhaven. Turfmarkt 99, Den Haag

 17.00 – 19.00


1. Water and conflict resolution: what we know and what we want to learn. 

Dr. Robin Pistorius

Dr. Robin Pistorius

Owner 'Facts of Life; Guest Lecturer University of Amsterdam

For over 25 years Dr. Robin Pistorius has assisted policymakers and researchers in solving sustainability questions regarding agriculture, biotechnology, biodiversity, water, and climate change. 

 Throughout his career, Pistorius focused on the socio-economic implications of high-tech developments and associated regulatory issues in particular in the field of agriculture and sustainable development – notably the use and conservation of biological diversity and intellectual property rights and water, being awarded the Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship by the International Plant Genetic Research Institute. In 2003, Pistorius established his own consultancy bureau: Facts of Life, and since 2011 Pistorius has taught courses on the BA and MA levels at the Department of Political Science of the University of Amsterdam on sustainability, transition thinking, agriculture, and environmental issues.

Robin Pistorius studied economic and social history at the University of Amsterdam, followed up by a doctorate programme at the department of Political Science (International Relations).

2. Water before conflict: water as a risk and mitigation tool. 

Irina Patrahau

Irina Patrahau

Strategic Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

Irina Patrahau is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS, contributing to our Energy and Raw Materials Initiative and Climate and Security Programme. She is interested in the geopolitics and geo-economics of energy, raw materials, and climate security. Furthermore, Irina works on the Water, Peace, and Security (WPS) partnership that helps stakeholders to identify and understand water-related security risks and undertake timely, informed, and inclusive action for conflict prevention and mitigation.

Irina holds a BSc degree (cum laude) in Political Science with a specialization in International Relations from Leiden University and a minor in Geo-Resources for the Future at the TU Delft. She attained her MSc degree (cum laude) in Political Economy from the University of Amsterdam, where she studied the energy relations between China and Eastern Europe in the context of the energy transition. 

3. Water in conflict: what is the role of water when conflict erupts? 

Juliane Schillinger

Juliane Schillinger

PhD Candidate: Department of Technology, Policy and Society at the University of Twente, Netherlands

Juliane Schillinger is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department of Technology, Policy, and Society from the University of Twente, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on analyzing the impacts of armed conflict on local water management systems in the Middle East. She is a Technical Adviser with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, specializing in climate adaptation and anticipatory action in fragile and conflict-affected settings, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association.

Juliane holds an M.Sc. in International Land and Water Management from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and a B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences from Freiburg University in Germany.

4. Regenerative approaches: rethinking rights of nature and water 

Abigail Robinson

Abigail Robinson

Director of Continua

Abigail Robinson has over two decades of experience working at the intersection of security, development, and diplomacy, with an emphasis on the role governance can play in preventing violent conflict. Throughout her career, she has focused on identifying what works in conflict prevention and peacebuilding and believes that solutions to future issues must include a fundamental shift in the role nature plays in governance and security.

Abigail has worked on security and peace from many perspectives, from serving in the U.S. Army and as deputy head of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, to leading expert teams supporting reform processes in partner countries. She has worked on projects in Latin America, the Sahel, East Africa, and the Balkans. Most recently she worked as an advisor to the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, where she managed research on topics including climate security, hybrid security, and trauma-informed approaches to security sector reform. Her current work includes designing more regenerative approaches to governance and exploring new ways to address the security implications of climate change and environmental degradation. 

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