UNESCO Chair in Hydropolitics

In November 2015, a UNESCO Chair in Hydropolitics was established at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) through the Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE). The Chair is headed by Professor Géraldine Pflieger, Director of the ISE, and Professor Christian Bréthaut, Director of the Education and Knowledge Component of the Geneva Water Hub.

Water research at UNIGE draws from a wealth of knowledge across several institutes, notably the Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE), the Platform for International Water Law, and the Department of Political Science & International Relations. The Chair in Hydropolitics is rooted in these partnerships, and those with other universities, research institutes, and International Organizations.

The Chair in Hydropolitics seeks to:

  • Contribute to an improved understanding of the political challenges relating to water resources (in particular, institutional frameworks, regulatory regimes, policy processes, and conflict resolution mechanisms), covering all levels of issues, whether local, regional or international.
  • Strengthen international interdisciplinary research on water policy issues, bringing together a diversity of perspectives, methodologies, and empirical cases to enlighten the inherent complexity of hydropolitics.
  • Disseminate knowledge resources globally through an open platform, including free education programs.
  • Establish international research networks, integrated with other UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks, to build bridges between academic research teams in Northern and Southern countries, encouraging North-South and South-South collaborations.

The Chair was officially inaugurated in November 2015. The Swiss Confederation supported the application for the Chair through its SDC Global Programme: Water Division and National Commission for UNESCO.

Since its establishment, the Chair has continued to develop a range of education and knowledge programs relating to water governance issues, focusing on power dynamics, actors’ networks, and conflict resolution. Through these programs, the Chair has contributed to scientific research, university education, and the setting of the hydropolitics agenda.

Now renewed for a second phase (2020-2024), the UNESCO Chair in hydropolitics aims to utilize the next four years to strengthen collaborations with its network of national and international partners. By developing new research projects, teaching and learning activities, and tailor-made trainings, the Chair strives to continue exploring the keys to a better understanding of the political dimension of water and building bridges between water sciences and politics.