Resources Science ›› 2020, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (6): 1162-1174.doi: 10.18402/resci.2020.06.13

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Spatiotemporal evolution of transboundary water conflict, cooperation, and global hydro-political relations

LU Han1,2(), DU Debin1,2(), GUI Qinchang1,2, DUAN Dezhong1,2   

  1. 1. Center for Geopolitical and Strategic Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2. Institute for Global Innovation and Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2020-01-16 Revised:2020-04-08 Online:2020-06-25 Published:2020-08-25
  • Contact: DU Debin;


Global warming is accelerating the reshaping of the global natural and ecological environments. Water resources conflicts are intensifying, and hydro-political relations have become one of the most urgent and complex geo-relationships that countries and the international community need to face and handle. From the perspective of social networks, states’ hydro-political power is determined not only by the location, but also by the position of the hydro-political network. Based on the data of the International Water Event Database (IWED) from 1948 to 2008, the global hydro-political relationship was deconstructed from the perspective of conflict and cooperation and “embedded”, and the dynamics of global hydro-political structure were clarified from two aspects: network relationship characteristics and spatial evolution characteristics. The results show that: (1) Water conflict network and water cooperation network hotspots showed a significant spatial displacement. Water conflict network hotspots shifted from Central Asia to South Asia and Southeast Asia, while South Asia and Southeast Asia have gradually become the hotspots for water cooperation; (2) The inter-country water conflict network and the inter-country water cooperation network both showed obvious core-periphery structure, and there were obvious replacing processes among different circles; (3) The inter-country hydro-political relation network can be divided into several communities compared with the community agglomeration mode of water conflict among countries, the inter-country water cooperation network community structure is more compact, showing a broader geographical span; (4) The situation of international water political relations can be roughly divided into three stages: the tense stage of the 1940s and the 1970s, the quiet stage of the 1980s, and the stage of violent fluctuations after the 1990s. According to the value of inter-country hydro-political relations, the hydro-political bilateral relationship can be divided into in tension relationship, friendly relationship, and relatively stable relationship. International water events are mainly based on cooperation, and friendly relationships are the mainstream of bilateral relations in hydro-political relations.

Key words: hydro-political relations, water conflict, water cooperation, social network analysis, spatiotemporal evolution, global