Water Security and the Role of New Technology: A South Asian Regional Framework
The Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) which deals with the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, shares strong linkages with other SDGs. This paper will analyse the prospects and challenges of addressing SDG 6 - specifically to manage of transboundary water security in South Asia, aided by the advances in the fourth industrial revolution. The fourth industrial revolution (4 IR), as distinguished from the previous ones, is reinforced by the digital economy and the swift advances in artificial intelligence. Given the rise in water stress combined with increase in population, it is obvious that hydro-political issues are going to be the major cause of conflicts in the years to be. The 2018 UN Sustainable Development Goals Report identifies areas around the Nile, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Indus, Tigris-Euphrates, and Colorado rivers to be the most likely zones for eruption of social and political unrest over water conflicts. Against this backdrop, the paper would briefly examine the history of competition and cooperation for limited water resources in South Asia and recommend measures for a South Asian regional initiative to effectively address any consequent regional instability through the application of emerging technologies. The study seeks to contribute to the research on how the technologies of 4IR can be harnessed to manage transboundary water politics for sustainable development.