The LWRG gathers international water professionals, activists and scholars from the social and natural sciences to facilitate the analysis of transboundary water management, politics and policy. Taking as the starting point that ‘power’ is a key factor in understanding and informing water policy, we have addressed issues of water allocation and management taking an integrated approach involving modelling, explanatory and activist science.
We have made contributions to water science and water policy by showing the relevance of political economy, hydro-politics and international law at the river basin, the regional and the global levels. The group is mostly self financing and this has given rise to a truly independent forum for debate. The overwhelming success of our signature products – term-time seminar series held at the Department of Geography, and the annual hydro-hegemony workshop – testify to our dynamism and capacity.
At present there are over 100 members from more than 10 countries. Our analysis provides insight on both ‘water wars’ (violent conflict) and ‘water peace’ (cooperation), leading to in-depth probes about water security. We have shown that apparent cooperation between states obscures a world of extreme power asymmetry. This ‘Hydro-Hegemony’ analysis enables the methods adopted by the powerful as well as the hegemonised to be seen more clearly. It shows how coercion, persuasion and the power of ideas are used to create a skewed yet apparently “normal” outcome to shared water relationships. As a result a number of shared water relationships have been described in terms of power relationships, and a variety of corrective strategies are presently being developed.