Water, Peace & Security (WPS) wins Outstanding Environmental Peace Prize

May 27th 2020 - 10:00

The Water, Peace and Security Partnership has been awarded the 2020 Luxembourg Peace Prize for Outstanding Environmental Peace. The ceremony has been postponed to 2021 as part of efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 28, 2021, peace activists from around the world will gather for the 9th Annual Luxembourg Peace Prize ceremony.

 For the ninth consecutive year, the Schengen Peace Foundation and the World Peace Forum will be awarding the prestigious Luxembourg Peace Prize to outstanding peacemakers and activists. The Luxembourg Peace Prize for Outstanding Environmental Peace recognizes contributions to sustainable development, environmental governance, natural resource management and environmental conflict management from an ecological perspective. Previous recipients include Jane Goodall, the SEKEM initiative and Steven M. Druker.

The Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership was founded in 2018 to pioneer the development of innovative tools and services that help identify and address water-related security risks. These tools and services can link hydrological, social, economic, ecological and political factors to pinpoint changes in short-term water availability and their potential impacts on society. Based on this information, evidence-based actions can be taken to mitigate human security risks, which WPS facilitates through capacity development and dialogue support.

WPS works to provide data, analyze risks, propose solutions and support the prevention of conflicts over water by enabling investors, policymakers and communities to take coordinated action at an early stage. Data is fundamental to understanding how water shortages translate into social consequences, where water-related risks are highest, what drives these risks and what solutions exist. Awareness and capacity to act enable decision-makers at all levels to implement these solutions.

WPS recently released a Global Early Warning Tool that uses machine learning to predict where violent conflicts are likely to occur, with an 86% success rate. The tool predicts the risk of conflict over the coming 12 months across Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia (and soon globally) by analyzing patterns between violent conflict and more than 80 environmental and socioeconomic variables going back 20 years. In December 2019, the tool found significant risk of water-related conflict in parts of Iraq, Iran, Mali, Nigeria, India and Pakistan over the next 12 months. This tool enables global development, diplomacy, disaster response and defense experts to intervene and diffuse conflict.

 WPS is a collaboration between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a consortium of six partners: IHE Delft (lead partner), World Resources Institute (WRI), Deltares, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), Wetlands International and International Alert.

The initiative is intended to become an open network that can bring together knowledge, capacities and activities directed at accelerating and scaling up preventative action in the context of water stress-induced conflict, migration or other forms of social destabilization. The consortium collaborates with a growing number of institutions, including Oregon State University, Pacific Institute, New America, and Clingendael-Netherlands Institute of Foreign Relations.


Below are statements from WPS partners:

Susanne Schmeier, WPS Coordinator, Senior Lecturer Water Law and Diplomacy, IHE Delft: 

“Receiving the Prize is a great motivation for us to continue and further intensify our work on the linkages between water and climate insecurity and conflict, instability and fragility. Advancing our analytical and dialogue tools and supporting actors at the local, national and international level to proactively and effectively engage in the prevention and mitigation of conflicts will hopefully contribute to a more peaceful world — especially in times of complex crises.” 

Charles Iceland, Director, Global and National Water Initiatives, Food, Forests, and Water Programs, WRI:

“Receiving this Prize highlights the importance of our work and our contribution to the important topic of environmental, climate and water peacebuilding. We are only at the beginning of the effort we need to undertake, however. We need to forge additional partnerships with global actors, national leaders, grassroots entities and local stakeholders in order scale up solutions to growing water problems. Over the next couple of years, we will build on our work in Mali and Iraq and plan to commence work in East Africa and Afghanistan.”

Camille Marquette, Peacebuilding Advisor — Natural Resources Management and Climate Change, International Alert:

“Our WPS analytical tools support decision-makers in conducting informed, inclusive and participatory dialogues on water-related issues. Water mismanagement has the potential to create or aggravate social tensions that could ultimately lead to conflict. WPS is proud that in being awarded the 2020 Luxembourg Peace Prize, the critical role that water plays in human security and as a means of building peace within and between communities, regions and states is being highlighted.”

Karen Meijer, Senior Researcher, Social Impacts of Water Scarcity, Deltares:

“WPS activities contribute to an improved understanding of how humans respond to water crises, which we believe is pertinent for the identification of effective actions to reduce water-related security risks. The Luxembourg Peace Prize is a great encouragement for us to continue our work on understanding interactions between water systems and society.”

Laura Birkman, Senior Strategic Analyst, HCSS:

“We are honored to have been awarded the Luxembourg Peace Prize together with our WPS partners and see this as a great motivator to continue this important work. The WPS analytical toolkit allows policymakers and decision-makers to better understand the complex nexus between scarce resources, such as water and arable land, climate change and political and social instability. Enhancing possibilities for predictive analyses are growing by the day and enable us to better prepare for and prevent future water-related catastrophes.”

Chris Baker, Programme Head Wetlands and Water Resources, Wetlands International:

“As a partner we are very proud that the Water, Peace and Security Partnership has been awarded the 2020 Luxembourg Peace Prize. It is a groundbreaking initiative that has worked with an open mind to identify and capture the key relationships between peace and water security and translate these in to practical, predictive mitigation tools. In doing so, it has helped highlight the ‘elephants in the room’ that drive conflict risk such as the loss of healthy wetlands and river basin functioning. These are communities’ buffer against water insecurity.”


2020 Luxembourg Peace Prize Categories

  • Outstanding Peace Activists - Dr Scilla Elworthy and Dr William Vendley 
  • Outstanding Peace Education - Transatlantic Dialogue
  • Outstanding Peace Organisation - Words Heal the World
  • Outstanding Peace Technology - Libby Lui
  • Outstanding Peace Journalism - Steve Youngblood
  • Outstanding Youth Peace Maker - Boniface Mwangi
  • Outstanding Environmental Peace - Water, Peace and Security
  • Outstanding Art for Peace - Pedro Reyes

For additional information on the Luxembourg Peace Prize, the World Peace Forum, or the Schengen Peace Foundation please visit and


About the WPS

The Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership is a collaboration between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a consortium of six partners: IHE Delft (lead partner), World Resources Institute (WRI), Deltares, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), Wetlands International and International Alert.

Laura Birkman is a Senior Strategic Analyst at HCSS where she focuses on issues related to climate security, sustainable development, and defense. She currently leads HCSS work on Water, Peace and Security (WPS), an award winning partnership that looks to pioneer the development of innovative tools and services that help identify and address water-related security risks. She is also a member of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS).
Michel Rademaker is the deputy Director of HCSS. He has fifteen years of hands-on experience as an officer in The Royal Netherlands Army, where he held various military operational and staff posts and also served a term in former Yugoslavia. He has a masters degree obtained at the University of Tilburg. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Rademaker went on to work at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) as a project and program manager and senior policy advisor on security topics for ten years. Eg. as NATO RTO project leader, he and his team developed serious gaming assessment methods and conducted several assessments of security technologies, and worked on numerous strategic security topics.
Bianca Torossian is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS. Her studies at The University of Sydney, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Leiden University (The Hague), earned her a Bachelor degree in political science, political economy and sociology, and a Master degree in political science and international organization. For her Master Thesis, Bianca analyzed how the institutional legitimacy of the European Union was impacted by Brexit, and hopes later to reopen this line of research and explore how the nationalistic tendencies of states effect the social legitimacy of multilateral institutions. At HCSS, Bianca primarily focusses on security and diplomacy. A specific area of interest is the field of technology and AI in defense contexts, which ties into a HCSS research project that critically analyzes the challenges and opportunities posed by robotic and autonomous systems in the military. She contributes to a range projects commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.
Dr. Ninoslav Malekovic is the Chief Data Scientist at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. Providing hands-on experience and leadership to the Centre’s Data Lab, Ninoslav brings formal and data sciences to bear on the quantification of the Centre’s research. His key responsibility includes formulating and implementing the Centre’s conflict, security, and political risk research in data science and engineering terms.
Dorith Kool is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS, where she contributes to projects commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs. Her primary focus is on fragile states and the role of the security sector in stabilising conflicts. Her work also includes research on the nexus between water, peace and security in Iraq. In her previous work she looked at the politicisation of peace settlements in Syria and the political dimensions of the humanitarian sector. Her main research interests include geopolitics and the security implications of climate change, hybrid warfare, security resilience and migration. She also has experience working as an Arabic translator.