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Water Security in a Changing World

Water drop, courtesy snap/flickr
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Water drop

We conclude our recent focus on strategically important resources by focusing this week on water scarcity as a potential source of conflict. Indeed, looking at this problem is especially important when we consider that all future water-related conflicts are likely to be underpinned by the impact of climate change, environmental degradation and mass migration, all of which are transnational problems rather than merely local ones. Additionally, there is the problem of energizing the global economy. As last week’s focus upon energy security demonstrated, the core functions that drive this economy (such as resource extraction) also rely heavily on finite water resources.

With all the above in mind, we begin this week by outlining the very real, as well as the often unseen, problems confronting water security. This analysis is then followed on Tuesday with an overview of how the international system has attempted to safeguard against water conflicts through legal and diplomatic means in the past. In addition, we also consider whether these means will actually be capable of bounding the ‘water wars’ of the not-too-distant future. On Wednesday, we will look at the history of water-based conflicts and pin-point the sites of current water wars. Crucially, we also consider where and in what context these wars might be fought in the future. Finally, we close the week by looking at how institutions could better manage international water conflicts, both at the transnational and national level.

Water Scarcity: The Real and Virtual Problems

15 Oct 2012 / Special Feature

Climate change is likely to remain the major factor behind water insecurity over the coming decades. Yet, as Ben Zala reveals, a number of ‘virtual’ factors, ranging from industrial-scale production to perceptions of scarcity, may also contribute to water conflicts in the near to mid-term. More on «Water Scarcity: The Real and Virtual Problems»

Are We Destined to Fight over Scarce Water Resources?

16 Oct 2012 / Special Feature

Are current international agreements strong enough to prevent future conflicts over water? Scott Moore argues that if conflict is defined as interstate warfare, then international agreements have effectively contained disputes in the past and will continue to do so in the immediate future. More on «Are We Destined to Fight over Scarce Water Resources?»

“Water Wars”: Past, Present and Future

17 Oct 2012 / Special Feature

Conflict over freshwater resources has occurred for thousands of years, but the historical record includes only one verifiable instance of a genuine water war. According to Ken Conca and our partners at the CSIS and IDSA, this pattern is unlikely to change dramatically in the future. More on «“Water Wars”: Past, Present and Future»

Water Conflicts in the Middle East

18 Oct 2012 / Special Feature

Despite its notable lack of resources, water has rarely formed the basis for conflict throughout the Middle East, or so argues Hannu Juusola. However, climate change and extreme weather conditions point to a future in which water disputes may trigger conflict, most notably between Israel and its immediate neighbors. More on «Water Conflicts in the Middle East»

A Blueprint for Managing Water Conflicts

19 Oct 2012 / Special Feature

How can governments and international actors better manage water conflicts? In today’s podcast, the International Water Law Project’s Salman MA Salman provides some answers based on his more than 30 years of fieldwork on water-related issues. More on «A Blueprint for Managing Water Conflicts»

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