Implications of Hydro-Political Dependency for International Water Cooperation and Conflict: Insights from New Data

Political Geography 42: 23–33

Posted: 5 Dec 2017 Last revised: 12 Dec 2017

Date Written: September 1, 2014

Abstract

Hydro-political dependencies between countries are widely regarded as having important implications for international water cooperation and conflict. Quantitative ex-post empirical research on the subject so far uses very simple characterizations of international river geography to proxy for such dependencies, though. The authors developed a new geo-spatial dataset for water catchments worldwide. This dataset combines elevation models, flow accumulation approaches, hydrological data, and data on international boundaries to generate more precise and nuanced measures of hydro-political dependencies among riparian countries. The paper discusses these measurement concepts, illustrates how dependencies are distributed worldwide, and revisits three prominent quantitative studies on the issue to show how using improved data affects empirical findings. In contrast to a very popular presumption, upstream–downstream dependencies turn out to have a very small to insignificant effect on international water cooperation or conflict.

Keywords: Hydro-political dependencies, New geo-spatial data, Elevation models, Flow accumulation approaches, Hydrological data, Quantitative analysis

Suggested Citation

Beck, Lucas and Bernauer, Thomas and Siegfried, Tobias and Boehmelt, Tobias, Implications of Hydro-Political Dependency for International Water Cooperation and Conflict: Insights from New Data (September 1, 2014). Political Geography 42: 23–33. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3080272

Lucas Beck (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
8092 Zurich, CH-1015
Switzerland

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
Switzerland
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
+41 44 632 1289 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ib.ethz.ch

Tobias Siegfried

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Tobias Boehmelt

ETH Zürich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
8092 Zurich, CH-1015
Switzerland

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