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
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
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