Paula Hanasz

Paula Hanasz

Paula Hanasz, Australia

Paula Hanasz has recently completed a PhD at the Australian National University. Paula’s PhD thesis explored the hydropolitics of the Ganges-Brahmaputra problemshed. She investigated the effects of international organisations on transboundary water conflict and cooperation.
Prior to starting her PhD, Paula Hanasz worked as a national security and defence consultant at Noetic Solutions. She has also spent over two years leading socio-political research and analysis, and conducting psychological operations for the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Paula holds a MScEcon Intelligence Studies from Aberystwyth University (UK). Her dissertation examined the geopolitics of the ‘new Great Game’ in Central Asia, focusing specifically on the competition for natural resources.

Presentation Title: International actors and transboundary water governance; the case of the Ganges-Brahmaputra problemshed.

The area of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna mega-basin that is shared between Nepal, Bhutan, northern India, and Bangladesh is one of the poorest, most densely populated, ecologically vulnerable, and socially and politically unstable in the world. Increasing competition over freshwater resources in this region is a stress multiplier and may lead to socio-political conflict. Reducing the potential for transboundary water conflict by increasing cooperation between riparian states has been of interest to policymakers, aid donors, and scholars of conflict for more than a decade. The World Bank began to intervene in the transboundary water governance in South Asia in the mid-2000s, and the South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI) is its most ambitious of its initiatives in this regard. Yet, in more than a decade of existence, SAWI has not been able to improve transboundary water interactions between India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. An analysis of more than 30 semi-structured interviews with subject matter experts from within the Ganges-Brahmaputra problemshed reveals several weaknesses in the approach of SAWI and other third parties in improving transboundary water interactions. These insights are significant because in-basin views have largely remained absent from, or secondary to, third party-led assessments and approaches to addressing water conflict and cooperation.

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