Christian Frutiger: "Blue Peace prevents wars and gives more stability"

The FDFA Deputy Director of the Thematic Cooperation Division describes a Swiss water initiative that combines diplomacy and development

Christian Frutiger: Head of the Thematic Cooperation Division
Christian Frutiger is Deputy Director and Head of the Thematic Cooperation Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation (Photo: SDC/FDFA)

At the multilateral level, the Switzerland is committed to the availability and the sustainable management of water and gods sanitation were integrated into the 2030 Agenda for one Sustainable Development.
Il Red Cross country pledges its support to enable countries to better manage their own water resources and to smooth out tensions between the various users (private, energy industry, agriculture, etc.) at both national and regional levels.
As part of the "Blue Peace" initiative launched in 2010, Bern supports the cross-border cooperation as well as national platforms for dialogue on the subject of access to water.
It is based on the idea that efficient and fair management of water resources world level contributes to the maintenance of a lasting peace.

The ambassador Christian Frutiger he is Deputy Director and Head of the Thematic Cooperation Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation.
He is responsible for the seven thematic sections of the SDC working towards the achievement of the goals of the United Nations for one Sustainable Development.
Under his leadership, the Thematic Cooperation Division aims to take a number of bold steps to be able to meet the many challenges ahead of us in the short, medium and long term.
It is divided into seven priority areas: economy e training; health; food systems; migration and forced displacement; water; climate, DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) e technology; peace, good governance and equality.
Christian Frutiger he assumed his current duties on 2022 September XNUMX.
From 2019 to last year he headed the Global Cooperation Unit of the SDC, which included five thematic sections, the support of the Switzerland to the UN and the World Bank as well as the Directorate's strategy team.
Before joining, in 2019, he worked for the International Committee of Red Cross occupying various positions, in the field and in headquarters, as well as in the private sector.
She has BAs in Russian, English and Political Science and a Masters in Communication Management, but speak fluently also German, French and Spanish.

Switzerland and the Blue Peace Initiative (in English)
Switzerland and the Blue Peace Initiative (in German)
Switzerland and the Blue Peace Initiative (in French)
Switzerland and the Blue Peace Initiative (in Italian)

Christian Frutiger: Blue Peace for Switzerland
The relationship between Switzerland and water through the Blue Peace initiative
(Picture: FDFA)

Mr. Christian Frutiger, what does "Blue Peace" mean?
“In many parts of the world, water is increasingly scarce. Population growth, environmental pollution and climate change are putting ever more pressure on available water resources in many areas of the planet. Competition for this precious resource can escalate conflicts and destabilize entire regions. 'Blue Peace' is a wholly Swiss initiative, which combines water diplomacy with development cooperation. It brings together countries that share and jointly use a body of water, for example a river, a lake or even a groundwater reservoir. The goal is to support the coastal states in the joint, peaceful and sustainable use of water. Switzerland draws on its experience in cooperation with neighboring countries, for example with the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine, which aims to balance the different interests associated with the use and protection of waters in the Rhine area. Our country is therefore a credible player in the sharing of cross-border water resources".

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Christian Frutiger: the Al-Wehda dam between Syria and Jordan
The Al-Wehda Dam, the result of a water use agreement between Syria and Jordan, never reached its maximum capacity because dams in the Syrian catchment area of ​​the Yarmuk River block the flow of water
(Photo: Yarmouk Future Team)

Why was it Switzerland that launched the “Blue Peace” initiative?
“Since the turn of the millennium, the number of violent conflicts around the world has increased significantly. Many of them are concentrated in the driest regions of the planet. A 2017 study by the World Economic Forum found that nearly 50 of these violent conflicts are fueled, to a large extent, by evidence of water shortages. Water stress and violent conflicts are causes and 'engines' of international migration. Switzerland, whose commitment to the water sector dates back to the very beginning of its development cooperation activities, has understood from the outset that the use of limited water resources can lead to conflicts, which is why it must be approached with a global and cross-border. Since the 90s, many of the Swiss water projects have therefore been based on this principle. In this process, Switzerland is always perceived by the partner countries as a neutral and loyal player, with no geopolitical interests. And she has transformed more and more from a simple supporter to a mediator. From here, about ten years ago, the 'Blue Peace' initiative was born…”.

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Christian Frutiger: Anna Luisa Beserra and water filters
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(Photo: SDC/FDFA)

How does this initiative actually work?
“The 'Blue Peace' initiative brings together key decision-makers and representatives of coastal states to discuss the use of common waters and conduct related negotiations. The long-term goal is to stipulate agreements and conventions that regulate and guarantee the use of water beyond national borders in a sustainable way. Water-related conflicts of interest must be resolved peacefully. The necessary preparatory work is also supported as part of the initiative. A body of water must first be examined before its use can be negotiated. It is also necessary to have sufficient qualified personnel, as well as competent institutions, to develop and implement agreements and conventions in this field. Switzerland's 'Blue Peace' initiative helps countries develop these capabilities."

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Christian Frutiger: The Gambia River
The Gambia River supplies water not only to Senegal, but also to Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia, which is why cross-border cooperation between the four countries is indispensable
(Photo: SDC/FDFA)

In which countries and regions is it promoted?
“The initiative is currently promoted in three priority regions. In the Middle East it is taking shape in the work on the Yarmuk and Tigris rivers, which cross Syria and Jordan and Turkey, Syria and Iraq respectively. In Central Asia it focuses instead on the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, which are the lifeblood of the countries they pass through, namely Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan as well as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Finally, in West Africa the 'Blue Peace' initiative supports several countries, notably Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, in developing a master plan for the Gambia River.”

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Christian Frutiger: access to drinking water
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(Photo: Mauricio Panozo/Helvetas)

What is the impact of the “Blue Peace” initiative? And what benefits does it bring to the populations concerned?
“In the short term, the benefit is to defuse conflicts immediately, for example by ensuring that limited water resources remain available and do not dwindle further. However, the greatest effects and benefits will be seen in the long run. It is essential that water resources are used peacefully and, above all, that they are conserved over the long term, so that in all bordering countries families, agriculture, the economy and of course nature can continue to have sufficient water even in the future. Thus, the 'Blue Peace' initiative indirectly prevents conflicts and contributes to ensuring greater stability and better framework conditions as a basis for long-term prosperity”.

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Christian Frutiger: Representatives from Central Asia in Senegal
Government representatives from Central Asia learn the mechanics of peaceful cross-border cooperation on water in the Senegal River catchment
(Photo: SDC/FDFA)

At the end of March, the UN Conference on Water was held in New York. What is Switzerland's commitment to this conference and what did the “Blue Peace” initiative mean in the context of this event?
“One of the five main themes of the Conference is cross-border cooperation in the water sector. Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis chaired the main discussion on this topic. At the aforementioned conference, Switzerland was able to share its know-how and experiences. As we have seen, the goal was to develop general recommendations for countries with shared water resources so that they can be used peacefully and sustainably in all regions of the world”.

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Christian Frutiger: water shortages worldwide
Recent studies predict a worldwide water shortage and a general water crisis on the planet (Illustration: Zoï Environmental Network)