Water Cooperation and Peace - Finnish Water Way


Finland joins the UNECE Water Convention and other partners in Transboundary Water Cooperation Coalition to strengthen commitment to water, peace and security at the UN 2023 Water Conference.
Read Finland's press release here.
Expert Opinion to the UN 2023 Water Conference Interactive Dialogues, September 2022
Experts representing the convening and contributing organizations of the side-event ‘Value of Water in Times of Armed Conflicts’ at the Stockholm World Water Week 2022 and partners joined forces in drafting key messages to be considered in the UN 2023 Water Conference Interactive Dialogues on Water for Cooperation. Key messages underline the importance of water during and after conflicts and in conflict prevention. The experts come from the Finnish Environment Institute, Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, CMI - Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, Finnish Institute of International Affairs and Aalto University, along with many international partners.

Working together towards a water secure world

Water diplomacy refers to the prevention and resolution of political tensions over water and its use by drawing on water expertise and diplomatic tools. The vision of Finland's international water strategy and the ultimate goal of Finnish water diplomacy efforts is a water secure world. Fair and well-governed management of water resources serves as a platform for cooperation and peacebuilding. Water can act as the starting point for preventive and proactive peace mediation.

The Finnish approach to water diplomacy combines two of Finland's strengths, transboundary water cooperation and peace mediation, and builds on national and international networks and partnerships.

The Finnish Water Diplomacy Network consists of experts from ministries, academia and research institutions, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector. The network-based implementation of Finnish water diplomacy activities ensures engagement of relevant peace mediation and water actors and enables utilization of their expertise for both rapid response and longer-term development aims.

Internationally, Finland collaborates with state and non-state actors in developing activities related to water diplomacy. These activities enhance conflict analyses and mediation, joint initiatives, and capacity building, all of which strengthen conflict prevention.


The goal: Together with its partners, Finland works to prevent and resolve water-related conflicts in a world of climate change and resource scarcity. Finland assists in finding solutions to challenges that risk aggravating relations over water.

How to reach it: Finland brings together two international areas of expertise – peace mediation and water know-how.

Basin affected by drought.
© Adobe Stock

Finnish water diplomacy expertise

Finland has long-standing, successful experience in transboundary water cooperation with its neighbours and partnering countries. Its operating model and technical know-how have played prominent roles in development cooperation projects around the world. This competence now forms the foundation of Finland’s water diplomacy efforts.

  • Finland has agreements for transboundary water cooperation with all its neighbouring countries.
  • Bilateral cooperation with both Sweden and Norway is fluent and focuses on joint planning at a local scale. Finnish-Russian cooperation is based on post-World War II confidence-building and agreements, under which actual activities evolve with geopolitical changes.
  • Finland actively promotes regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea, Barents Sea and Arctic regions.
  • Finland has supported transboundary water cooperation, especially in the Nile Basin, Mekong region, and Central Asia.

Did you know?

Both global conventions on transboundary waters have been initiated by Finland: the 1992 UNECE Water Convention (Helsinki Convention) and the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention. Finland has contributed to various activities within the Helsinki Convention such as reducing inter-sectoral tensions through the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus assessments.

Finland as a peace mediator

Finland has long-standing experience in international peace mediation. Finnish peace mediation is known for its pragmatism, impartiality, and solution-oriented approach. Finland has also played an important role in strengthening the normative basis for peace mediation at the multilateral fora, including in the United Nations.

Equality, local ownership, inclusivity, and transparency are at the core of Finland’s efforts in mediation. The involvement of all parties concerned in the peace process is essential for creating sustainable peace. Finland pays special attention to measures that enhance the role of women and youth in peace processes.

Strengthening Water Diplomacy Networks

Water Cooperation and Peace – Finnish Water Way is a project financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Ministry of the Environment.

The project supports implementing Finland’s goal of sustaining peace and ensuring security by making water visible in its peace initiatives as well as its foreign and security policy.

The project seeks to

  • Strengthen Finnish water diplomacy collaboration internationally
  • Strengthen international transboundary agreements and their implementation by supporting the active participation and experience sharing of Finnish experts
  • Identify and respond to Finnish and international water diplomacy training and competence-building needs
  • Deepen cooperation between experts in foreign and security policy, peace mediation, and the water sector.

Financiers and partners

Partners and financiers
Finnish Water Diplomacy logo

More information

  • Project coordinator: Researcher Sara Todorovic, Finnish Environment Institute Syke, firstname.lastname@syke.fi, +358 295 252 188
  • Senior Research Scientist Suvi Sojamo, Finnish Environment Institute Syke, firstname.lastname@syke.fi, +358 295 251 049
  • Head of International Services Tea Törnroos, Finnish Environment Institute Syke, firstname.lastname@syke.fi, +358 295 251 714
Published 2021-12-09 at 15:04, updated 2023-03-09 at 15:39

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