Conditions for Cooperative Water Resource Management in a conflict affected society : A case study of the Ibër River Basin
Abstract: Kosovo is a disputed territory, in conflict with Serbia, the country it declared independence from in 1999. The two states share water resource, in the form of the Ibër river. Kosovo is facing issues of water scarcity and the water it has access to is heavily polluted with untreated wastewater metallurgy waste.Kosovo does not only have poor relations with Serbia, there are also conflict within Kosovo with communities of both Kosovo Albanian majority and Serb majority. These communities have shown different willingness to cooperate over the water management of the Ibër river basin. Cooperating over shared water resources have in other cases been used as a way to improve on relations in conflict affected societies, through environmental peacemaking. In this case study, the environmental and socio-political conditions for environmental peacemaking is investigated through interviews of municipal and regional stakeholders, involved in the management of the Ibër river basin. Interviews were conducted with two municipal employees and one representative from the regional river basin authority in Kosovo. These interviews were complemented with a comprehensive literature review. The findings were analysed, using a conceptual framework developed to analyse and compare different cases of environmental peacemaking. The conceptual framework consists of six elements: resource scarcity, interdependence, lack of environmental sustainability, mutual interests, shared values, and power (a)symmetries. External actions and interests was also included as an element to reveal in what way external actors can intervene and assist in improving relations through environmental peacemaking initiatives. The analysis concluded that the Ibër river basin is in a need of transboundary management to improve on the water quality in a more effective and efficient way. The resource scarcity that is currently facing the stakeholders could be used as a cooperative trigger between the different actors. And while there is a lot of complexity to within the socio-political conditions, the interviewees express the need and interest for increased cooperation. This indicates that increased collaboration could be possible, but most likely there would be a need for external interventions to create an ongoing dialogue, that in turn can build trust between the conflicting parties.
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