Former Bhutan Prime Minister Dr. Kinzang Dorji has lauded the initiative of signing an agreement between Bhutan and India, and declaring a 7-point ‘Call for Action on Inclusive Water Governance’.
A two-day consultation on Trans-Boundary Cooperation for Effective Management of Water Risks between Bhutan and India was jointly organized by NERSWN, Oxfam India, TROSA and Aranyak.
The consultation concluded on Friday evening at Kokrajhar with signing and declaring of a agreement on ‘Call for Action on Inclusive Water Governance’.
The 7-Point Call for Action was signed by key civil society leaders from both Bhutan and India.
The charter has been endorsed by the members of academia, media and government representatives present on the occasion.
Dr Kinzang Dorji, former two-time Bhutan Prime Minister, said: “I congratulate the visionary civil society leaders of both the countries for being able to arrive at an agreement, which will promote better ties for both the countries for a noble cause, this remain as a source of motivation for civil society leaders across the borders.”
Raju Kr. Narzary, executive director, North East Research & Social Work Networking, said, “I felt fortunate to be part of such an important moment of history, where CSO leaders of both the countries have not only agreed to pursue the 7-Point Kokrajhar Declaration, but signed as a holy document, so that generations to come, people in both Bhutan and India can refer to it as guiding principles.”
The Call for Action read as: “Building upon 51 years of Bhutan-India friendship and mutual cooperation, these Civil Society Organisations from Bhutan and India representing border communities, present at the consultation on Transboundary Cooperation for Effective Management of Water Risks, Kokrajhar Assam, recognises that, the South Asian region including Bhutan and India have started witnessing the worst of climate change impacts.”
“Climate Change induced disasters have wider impacts on shared water resources and are affecting multiple countries at a time. The ever increasing frequency and intensity of disasters have already overwhelmed capacities of countries to respond. The regional fragilities have increased manifolds and water stress and its impact on riparian livelihoods is also an emerging problem,” Call for Action further states.
“The intrinsic linkages between South Asian countries, rooted to geopolitics, demography, socio-economic and cultural ties, can lead to the cascading effects spurred by disasters or climate change, affecting the whole region adversely,” it adds.
The Bhutan-India civil society organisations in Kokrajhar collectively strive and agree to join hands together to “strengthen people to people ties for building progressively trust and confidence and to safeguard the rights of riparian communities upstream and downstream; promote and support more community-led ecosystem management and conservation practices, including cross-border basin-level initiatives, and enhance role of women and youth in effective management of water resources”.
The organizations have also decided to “strengthen transboundary cooperation for early warning systems and action for water induced risks including disasters, pollution and other forms of water stress impacting lives and livelihood of riparian communities.”
Besides, the organizations agree to “engage with local and national governments for transparent, accountable and inclusive water governance; facilitate media engagement and cooperation on transboundary water governance; contribute to more evidence-informed dialogues and collaboration through research and knowledge partnerships.”