Freshwater Crisis: Energy Security and Economic Growth

Simulation Scenario

The neighboring countries of Yeeland and Grusa share a freshwater lake that is home to the Lauret crane, an endangered species and major tourist attraction. Yeeland is constructing a hydroelectric dam to provide it with a much needed power source. However, Grusa fears the dam will affect the lake’s water levels, harming the cranes. A summit has been called with Yeeland, Grusa, the United States, the United Nations Water Convention Bureau, and the non-governmental organization Save Our Avian Resources to discuss the issue.

In this hypothetical simulation, students will take on the roles of key stakeholders as they attempt to negotiate a diplomatic solution that balances the resource needs of Yeeland and Grusa, while preserving biodiversity and the environment. The exercise will develop skills in critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, persuasive communication, and global competence.

Conservation as a Global Challenge

126,000 animal species around the world live in freshwater habitats. Unfortunately, these species are disappearing 4-6 times faster than those living on land or in salt water. Countries must balance the use of natural resources to build strong economies with the need to preserve vital ecosystems. In cases where a freshwater source crosses national borders, countries should decide together how to use these resources, but this can be hard when two countries have different needs. How can the United States and other global leaders work to promote economic growth while conserving natural resources?

Role of the State Department

The U.S. Department of State coordinates U.S. foreign policy approaches to conserving and sustainably managing ecosystems, including the world’s water resources and the species that depend on them. It advances U.S. strategic interests through global partnerships and policies aimed at ensuring that economic growth and a healthy planet go hand in hand.

Basic Simulation Materials:

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Intermediate Simulation Materials:

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Advanced Simulation Materials:

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Expert Videos

Please find below short videos from experts in the field to aid discussion and exploration of a topic.

Water as a Global Issue: Aaron Salzberg, a subject matter expert, describes how the issue of water and sanitation is connected to human health, economic growth and peace and security.

The Challenges of Water Issues: Aaron Salzberg, a subject matter expert, discusses the importance of water management to ensure that the water-stressed areas of the world thrive.

This is a Realistic Simulation: Aaron Salzberg, a subject matter expert, describes how the positions of the fictitious countries presented in the simulation represent legitimate, competing interests of countries.

Using Dams to Produce Energy: Aaron Salzberg, a subject matter expert, discusses how although dams can be an important renewable energy source, countries need to think through the impact they have on the environment and life downstream.

Agreements to Address Water IssuesAaron Salzberg, a subject matter expert, discusses how the UN Water Convention is a template for how countries may address solving water challenges.


How NGOs Help Resolve Water DisputesAaron Salzberg, a subject matter expert, discusses how the role of the NGO community in educating and building capacity among stakeholders is critical. 


The Difference between Clean and Renewable Energy: Melanie Nakagawa, a subject matter expert, describes how renewable energy mostly comes from the environment (water, wind) and is sustainable, while clean energy is less polluting, such as battery storage and natural gas.

The United Nations works on Energy Issues:  Melanie Nakagawa, a subject matter expert, discusses how the International Renewable Energy Agency, which is a part of the UN, focuses on the promotion of renewable and energy efficiency.