The ‘blue gold’ rush: challenges for water management as the climate changes


  • To train you in critical analysis of pressing international issues
  • To develop your understanding of how international institutions, national governments and NGOs manage theirpublic and media relations
  • To develop your understanding of how national governments, inter- or supra-national institutions and civil society organisations interact
  • To train you to navigate and critically assess a range of media and scholarly sources
  • To develop your proficiency in practical applications of theoretical, epistemological and methodological tools to analysis of issues and organisations that play important roles in global politics, culture and society.

In this essay, you will investigate the question of The ‘blue gold’ rush: challenges for water management as the climate changes.

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With a primary focus on political/civil society dynamics in transnational context. To this end, you must include analysis of at least two major primary sources: material published online by at least one international institution or agency and at least one NGO. You can also refer to one or more national governments or national institutions, and to other international institutions or NGOs. You can build on/expand the particular micro issue you worked on for the media analysis, using it as a case study or a starting point for analysis, or you can work on a different aspect of the macro issue. Your focus, however, must be transnational: not just one country and not considering issues solely as they impact on and between nation-states, but also as they impact on particular populations across national borders (e.g. indigenous populations or racial minorities, urban or rural poor, small or medium-sized businesses, women, cultural or religious communities, migrant/mobile workers and professionals, and so on). 
You should ensure that you do not cast your focus too broadly, but pick one or two aspects of the issue that you would like to consider: they could be (depending on your chosen issue) in the areas of politics, society, economy, environment, trade, security, armed conflict, culture, language, religion, ethnicity, human rights, and so on; they could be considered at a global or regional level, or at the level of issues that involve two or more countries in a specific relationship (e.g. cross- border cultural, trade or ethnic politics). But you need to keep your focus contained, hence the possibility of using your topic chosen for the media analysis as a starting point or even basis for analysis.

Choice of organisations to analyse

For the international or regional institutions, you can choose:

  • the UN and its main bodies (General Assembly, ECOSOC, Security Council, International Court of Justice), and 
its various agencies such as UN Women, FAO, WHO, ILO, UNHRC, UNHCR, UNDP, UNICEF, UNCTAD.
  • an international or regional economic alliance such as WTO, IMF, World Bank, the G7, G8, G20, G77, NAFTA, OPEC, APEC, OECD, New Development Bank.
  • or cultural/religious alliance such as the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation
  • a regional military or political treaty/federal organisation such as NATO, ASEAN, EU, Unasur, Organisation of American States.
  • a particular institution or agency of supranational entities such as the EU (e.g. European Commission, European Economic and Social Council, European Central Bank, European Ombudsman).
  • For the purpose of this exercise, you may also consider philanthropic offshoots of corporations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or Business for Millenium Development, as ‘institutions’ rather than as NGOs.
  • For the NGO, you have close to unlimited possibilities. Corporations and their philanthropic foundations are excluded, but small business advocacy groups, or cooperatives, are allowable. Political parties are also excluded, but trade union confederations and religion-based charities not aligned to states, for example, are allowable. Loose networks that are not formally constituted as NGOs but that act as transnational advocacy and lobby groups are also allowed. Your NGO must, however, have transnational connections, either because it is internationally constituted (such as Greenpeace, Amnesty, Médecins sans Frontières, Reporters Without Borders, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and so on), or because it is transnationally networked through an umbrella organisation or informal transnational alliance (such as Women in Black or the World Social Forum).
  • Writing the essay

You will present one or two core or representative questions related to your chosen issue, and present a brief argument of why you consider them to be key questions. Similarly, you will present your chosen institutions and civil society organisations and briefly explain their relevance to the issue. Your argumentation will involve a critical comparative assessment of your chosen organisations’ approach to the issue in question, and the political values and/or cultural assumptions informing this approach. How do they frame the issue? How reliable is the information they present, and how do we know? (e.g. counterarguments, conflicting data and so on). In analysing the issue and in presenting your own arguments, you should draw on concepts and approaches presented during this Unit wherever applicable.Your analysis can draw on both quantitative and qualitative data. You should write for an educated and specialist readership and reference to both primary sources and scholarly secondary literature is compulsory: you must back up your claims.

  • Guidelines for preparing your essay
  • Define your question carefully and make sure you are addressing it. Avoid lengthy tangents and digressions.
  • Use primary sources (i.e. the material that constitutes the focus of your analysis) and secondary sources (reference books, journal articles, electronic journals and so on, to support your analysis) as directed.
  • State your arguments clearly, engage your reader with them and develop them with reference to the primary sources, secondary sources and examples, as appropriate to the task. Remember: you get credit for original, well- thought-out, well-argued and engagingly-written material.
  • Some personal anecdotal material is allowable if you clearly demonstrate its relevance and if it provides an interesting way in to the topic, but beware of being over-indulgent in this area.
  • An introduction should engage the reader’s attention, present the topic and flag your arguments/content. Whatever the type of writing task, you need a coherent and enticing introduction!
  • A conclusion is not simply a repetition of the introduction: it should draw the threads of your arguments together. It can suggest possible future avenues of inquiry but should not launch into new arguments. You must conclude, after all. Good conclusions are harder to write than you think: don’t rush them at the last minute.
  • Be consistent and rigorous in your footnoting (or endnoting) and referencing. We do not impose a preference for style, but insist on consistent, coherent, and conscientious referencing. Common styles used in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences for social-sciences based work are Harvard and Chicago. These style manuals are available in Fisher Library and online. Overly lengthy citations, footnotes or endnotes should be avoided.
  • Be scrupulous in acknowledging your sources, including when you use someone’s material (even communicated in conversation) as general inspiration or background. Direct quotations of three or more lines are indented, shorter ones are run in to the text. If you cite material originally written in a foreign language, translate the cited extract and include the original in a footnote or endnote, with name of translator (‘all translations by myself’ will suffice if this is the case). We use Turnitin in this Unit of Study.
  • Use double spacing and generous margins and proofread your work!! Sloppy English and seas of typos are not acceptable at this level of study and you will be marked down for them. Consideration is nonetheless given to students whose native language is not English.


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