IHP Themes

IHP Worldwide

About PCCP

Mission Statement

‘From Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential’ (PCCP) facilitates multi-level and interdisciplinary dialogues in order to foster peace, co-operation and development related to the management of transboundary water resources.

Field woman lakeHoused within IHP, and a contribution to WWAP, PCCP addresses situations where water users need support to manage their transboundary water resources in a peaceful and equitable manner. It capitalizes on the desire of the concerned parties to successfully manage their transboundary water resources in order to create a foundation upon which peace and cooperation are consolidated.

Through Research and Capacity building/enhancement activities, the programme brings players engaged in transboundary water management together and helps increase the opportunities for actual co-operation and development.

Given its place within the UN system, and more specifically in a neutral organization like UNESCO, the programme offers its resources to coordinate similar efforts and disseminate best practices of water conflict resolution and cooperation building. It offers a “one-stop-shop” for activities in transboundary waters and builds legitimacy for the field of cooperative water management by advertising other institutions’ projects.

As a result PCCP establishes links with related initiatives within UNESCO and the UN more broadly. It also looks at what other non-UN institutions around the world are doing in this domain.



Girls carrying water taken from a fountain streetThe goal of PCCP, in accordance with the mandate of WWAP, is to render services to UNESCO's Member States and to foster co-operation between nations. It is also guided by the Organization's paramount mandate: to nurture the idea of peace in human minds.

PCCP aims to foster co-operation between stakeholders in the management of transboundary water resources, while helping to ensure that potential conflicts do not turn into real ones. The project focuses on the development of tools for the anticipation, prevention and resolution of water conflicts.

PCCP’s ultimate objective is to use Track II initiatives to support and maintain peace-building processes.


Target Groups

PCCP's priority target groups are institutions and individuals that manage transboundary water resources. These include:



River swimOne critical aim of water management is to continually reconcile the opposing interests of all water users - be they individuals, enterprises, corporations, interest groups, administrative or sovereign entities. The management of water conflicts, confrontations, competitions and co-operation are thus a part of water resources management in its broadest sense. Negative interactions (such as competition and confrontations) over scarce water resources can lead to tension and - in extreme situations - even conflict, should they remain unattended.

PCCP was conceived with the idea that, although transboundary water resources can be a source of conflict, their joint management should be strengthened and facilitated as a means of co-operation between various water users. Thus PCCP aims to demonstrate that a situation with undeniable potential for conflict can be transformed into a situation where co-operation potential can emerge. PCCP's thematic focus is on this very transition - from PC to CP.

PCCP gives priority to water conflicts which are international in nature and may cause tension or even open conflict between sovereign states. Water disputes at the local or regional (provincial) levels are addressed only if they can have an impact on international relations or when sovereign states specifically request the technical assistance of PCCP's network of experts.


Fourth Phase of PCCP

PCCP is active in three areas – research, education and support to cooperation processes – with a focus on the development of tools which anticipate, prevent and resolve water conflicts. Broadly, this work covers developing educational material, helping to build the appropriate institutional frameworks, creating methodologies for the resolution of water conflicts, and developing cooperation. The project also aims to improve legal tools for the management of transboundary water resources, and disseminates results and best practices.

During its fourth phase PCCP’s activities will therefore include the development of capacity building/enhancement tools and corresponding training material, adapted to specific audiences and regions. Two new case studies reflecting the status of cooperation in specific regions of the world will also be produced. Other research activities will be undertaken and conferences and events organized, which will be used as a platform to promote dialogue and cooperation between major stakeholders involved in the management of transboundary water resources. These will be announced on the website as they develop.


Third Phase of PCCP (2007 - 2009)

During its third phase of activities, PCCP continued to use Track II initiatives in order to support cooperation processes related to the peaceful management of water resources. The following gives an idea of the activities of the Programme during this third phase.

PCCP’s activities included the development of training courses such as a training for high level professionals and diplomats held at UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, a training for journalists held during the 5th World Water Forum in March 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey, as well as short courses on Water Conflict Management, regularly organized together with UNESCO-IHE, and which are part of a joint MSc in Water Management – specialization Water Conflict Management, LLM in Water Governance and Conflict Resolution. Training courses adapted to specific regions, such as new courses in Asia and Latin America were also developed. Since 2006, PCCP also conceived and organized lectures on conflict resolution and water within the Master’s Degree in Peace Studies at the University of Roma Tre, Italy.

PCCP also created a Master Programme in Water Management (specialization Water Conflict Management) that was jointly implemented by UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and the IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science operating under the auspices of UNESCO.

Course material focusing on effective transboundary water resources management has been published and used to train high level professionals and diplomats involved in the water related negotiation processes.

Other PCCP research activities included the release of four PCCP publications within special series:

Case studies reflecting the status of cooperation in the Mono River and the Ostua-Metapan aquifer were produced. Each was co-authored by experts representing their respective riparian countries. The process leading to the writing of the case studies involved major players in the selected basins. It was not only a research exercise as it offered those players a forum for dialogue and communication. It also constituted an opportunity for the development of long term visions for the joint use of the resources in question.

PCCP jointly organized with UNESCO's Social and Human Sciences Sector and UNESCO Etxea-UNESCO Centre Basque Country an international experts' meeting on the right to water in 2009. In March 2009, PCCP coordinated with INBO the five sessions of Topic 3.1. on "Basin Management and Transboundary Cooperation" at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. The Programme organized, with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN-Water Secretariat, a high-level roundtable event on "Adapting to Climate Variability in Transboundary Basins" on the occasion of the World Water Day 2009. PCCP also chaired a workshop on "Benefit Sharing and Transboundary Waters" during the World Water Week in 2009. In 2009 PCCP participated in a conference on "Greening Borders: cooperation, security and diplomacy" organized by the University of San Diego and focusing on transboundary water management in the San Diego/Tijuana border region, as well as in an event jointly organized by The American Library in Paris and WICE World Watch on "Water and War – Are wars really going to be fought over water?". In 2008 and 2009 PCCP also participated in two seminars on "the geostrategic consequences of global warming" organized by the French Joint Forces Defence College, and on "tense water resources management: beyond public goods-economic goods' divides" organized by the Delegation for Strategic Affairs of the French Ministry of Defence. The Programme organized jointly with the Fondation Chirac, in 2008, the conference on "Water for Peace – Peace for Water: Lessons from the Past and Current Challenges". The same year, it organized a symposium on "Transboundary Water Management" to address water scarcity leading to increased competition among users (see ‘PCCP conferences and related events’).


Second Phase of PCCP (2003- 2006)

During the PCCP’s second phase the educational material that was developed for and implemented in the South African Development Community has been further developed and adapted to the Latin American and South East European contexts (see Capacity building/enhancement tools). A case study on the Lake Titicaca Basin involving the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both riparians Peru and Bolivia has been conducted in order to further build confidence between players in this basin at all levels. Furthermore and among other efforts PCCP designed and produced a Conflict Resolution Support System software (see Capacity building/enhancement tools). In 2004 PCCP hosted the innovative role-play conference ‘Water: A Catalyst for Peace’ on Alternative Dispute Resolution Techniques (see ‘PCCP conferences and related events’).


First Phase of PCCP (2001-2003)

A major outcome of PCCP's first phase is the publication of a series of 31 printed volumes focusing of transboundary water issues. A number of experts from around the world were invited to investigate the water conflicts and cooperation field. They developed a series of disciplinary studies which analyzed historical experiences, and reviewed existing legal, diplomatic and systems analysis tools, particularly with regard to their utility in resolving water-related conflicts. Case studies of successful co-operation were developed in addition to educational material for a course on Conflict Prevention and Co-operation in International Water Resources in the South African Developing Community (see Capacity building/enhancement tools). In 2002 PCCP organized in collaboration with Green Cross International the international conference ‘From Conflict to Cooperation in International Water Resources Management: Challenges and Opportunities’ (see ‘PCCP conferences and related events’).

The government of Italy (Ministry of Environment) and the government of Japan (Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transportation) generously fund the activities of PCCP.


UNESCO's Water Family

About PCCP

PCCP Resources