CREES Noon Lecture. “Reflections on Two Decades of Water Cooperation and Conflict in Post-Soviet Central Asia.”
Erika Weinthal, associate professor of environmental policy, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. Part of LSA Theme Semester, “Water.” Sponsor: CREES.
This talk examines the changing landscape of water cooperation and conflict in Central Asia over the course of two decades. Water has for centuries been the main focal point for Central Asian peoples, linking them physically, economically, and culturally. The introduction of new political borders as a result of the Soviet Union’s dissolution has transformed a large number of Soviet Central Asia’s domestic rivers into international rivers (e.g., Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Chu, Talas, and Zarafshon), and has accordingly turned water into a source of potential interstate conflict. The speaker will elucidate why early attempts at water cooperation have achieved limited success and provide insights into the underlying constraints that have precluded effective and sustained cooperation in Central Asia. This talk will also examine the impact of increased water demand in Afghanistan as well as climate change on water management within Central Asia and the broader regional context.
Erika Weinthal is associate professor of environmental policy at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. Professor Weinthal specializes in global environmental politics and natural resource policies with a particular emphasis on water and energy. The main focus of her research is on the origins and effects of environmental institutions and the role of environmental activism, and she has done research on the impact of multilateral and bilateral development organizations on water resource management and institution building in the Aral Sea basin in Central Asia. Her book, State Making and Environmental Cooperation: Linking Domestic Politics and International Politics in Central Asia (MIT Press, 2002) was the recipient of the 2003 Chadwick Alger Prize and the 2003 Lynton Keith Caldwell Prize. Her current book project on the resource curse examines the relationship between ownership structure and fiscal outcomes in the Soviet successor states. Another project on post-conflict peacebuilding focuses on the ways in which water resources can be harnessed for fostering human security, economic development, and regional cooperation. She is a member of the UNEP Expert Advisory Group on Environment, Conflict, and Peacebuilding. Weinthal received her PhD in political science from Columbia University in 1998.