ECC Platform Library


Disputes over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Type of conflict sub
Intensity 2
Eastern Africa
Time 2011 ‐ ongoing
Countries Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan
Resources Water
Conflict Summary There has long been a conflict over water rights among the riparian countries of the Eastern Nile Basin (Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia). The dispute escalated in...
Disputes over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)
There has long been a conflict over water rights among the riparian countries of the Eastern Nile Basin (Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia). The dispute escalated in 2011 when Ethiopia began construction of a major new dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in the absence of any agreement with downstream Egypt. A series of talks since then have largely failed to produce a consensus among the concerned countries, with tensions rising again after Ethiopia announced its intention to begin filling the dam in July 2020.
Conceptual Model

Fragility and Conflict Risks

For a long time, the Nile’s hydro-political regime has been a contentious issue. By constructing the new dam, Ethiopia has shown its determination to develop its water resources. This has led to a conflict with Egypt, which temporarily escalated into a diplomatic crisis after Ethiopia’s announcement in 2011.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversDemographic changes increase pressures on available water resources.Infrastructure development changes the allocation of water.Freshwater becomes scarce as an essential resource. State elites strategically use resource scarcity for political advantage/power.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources leads to tensions between states.Use of resource, livelihood, and health pressures for political advantage/power intensifies interstate tensions.Change in population density, age structure, or ethnic makeup.Demographic ChangeAn increase in the scarcity of clean water and/or an increased variability in water supply.Increased Water ScarcityConstruction of major infrastructure, such as dams, canals or roads.Infrastructure DevelopmentReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural ResourcesUse of resource, livelihood, and health pressures for political advantage/power.PoliticisationTensions between states that may but need not escalate into overt violent conflict.Interstate Tensions
Context Factors
  • Water-stressed Area
  • Food Insecurity
  • History of Conflict
Conflict History

The Eastern Nile Basin comprises Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The crucial leverage regarding Egypt’s water security lies with the Blue Nile countries Ethiopia and Sudan, as the Blue Nile is the main contributor to the Nile River’s flow downstream. In fact, about 85 % of the overall Nile flow originates on Ethiopian territory (Swain, 2011). Ethiopia's determination to build a major new dam, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), for hydropower purposes has been the flashpoint of current conflicts in the Eastern Nile Basin (Gebreluel, 2014).

Geopolitical importance
The Eastern Nile Basin is of critical geopolitical importance to the Nile’s overall hydro-political regime. The Blue Nile is Ethiopia’s largest river, with high potential for hydropower and irrigation. Ethiopia argues that developing this resource is crucial to its economic development, and to overcoming poverty and famine, that have plagued the country in the past. Ethiopia has the basin’s most suitable locations for hydropower production, and its damming of the Blue Nile would significantly increase Sudan's potential for irrigated agriculture. Ethiopia has never 'consumed' significant shares of the Nile’s water so far, as its previous political and economic fragility in combination with a lack of external financial support, due to persistent Egyptian opposition to projects upstream, prevented it from implementing large-scale projects. This has now changed due to political consolidation over the past two decades and the advent of alternative sources of external finance (to the traditional multilateral development banks), not least from China (IDS, 2013Gebreluel, 2014).

Non-cooperative parallel developments
Ethiopia and Sudan are currently developing and implementing water infrastructure developments unilaterally - as Egypt has done in the past and continues to do. These parallel developments appear to be elements of a bigger hydro-political strategy wherein the riparian countries aim to increase their water utilisation to put facts on the ground (and underpin legal claims based on those uses) and increase their bargaining position for renegotiations of volumetric water allocations. However, this threatens the basin's long-term sustainability (as water use expands beyond what is environmentally feasible) and suboptimal in terms of capital allocation (as higher water use upstream may make downstream projects uneconomical (Swain, 2011).

The 1959 Agreement: an asymmetrical water-sharing arrangement
As stipulated by an Agreement of 1959 (see: Nile Main Conflict), Egypt and Sudan presented for several decades a common position vis-à-vis other riparians regarding the utilisation and management of Nile waters. Despite the fact that newly independent Sudan in the late 1950s was literally forced by a dominant Egypt into a highly asymmetrical water-sharing arrangement, Sudan has rarely challenged this arrangement. However, Sudan’s future water requirements will likely exceed its water quota as defined in the 1959 Agreement. This represents a new challenge to the basin’s current hydro-political regime and status quo, as it may drive Sudan’s interest in renegotiating its current quota (Link et al., 2012Whittington et al., 2014).

Ethiopia's challenge to the 1959 Agreement
The unilateral decision taken by Ethiopia - which never recognised the 1959 agreement but had previously not been able to challenge it in fact - to build the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2011 represents a major political challenge to the 1959 Agreement. It signifies that Egypt’s de facto veto power on major upstream dams has been broken, and it clearly demonstrates the political will of Ethiopia to develop its water infrastructure even in the absence of a comprehensive basin agreement. Political instability in Egypt played an important role as the announcement of the project coincided with the resignation of President Mubarak during the Arab Spring. Ethiopia’s interests in developing its water resources are driven by its growing population and high demand for socio-economic development (Gebreluel, 2014).

The GERD potential benefits and disadvantages
The GERD has the potential to act both as driver for conflict, but also for cooperation. It provides clear benefits to all three riparian, such as flood control, reduced flood damages and sediment control. Moreover, with GERD, Ethiopia opts for a “hydropower” expansion strategy on the Blue Nile, and not an “irrigation strategy”. This is good news for Egypt and Sudan as hydropower means little actual water withdrawal. However, it also entails potential negative effects on Egypt, if not carefully managed (see also Security implications of growing water scarcity in Egypt). The filling regime and operational methods of GERD will affect Egypt, in particular through its impact on the operation of its Aswan High Dam (AHD) which aims at mitigating the high variability of the Nile River flow. The filling time is estimated to take about 10 years, during which the Blue Nile water flows would be reduced. The 10 year filling time of GERD will likely contribute to fastened salinisation in Egypt. If it were to take place during a sequence of years in which the Blue Nile flow and the AHD reservoir itself was low, Egypt might not be able to withdraw sufficient water supplies to meet all of its agricultural needs. Moreover, after the completion of the GERD, Egypt could run short of water if the operation of the GERD was not carefully coordinated with that of the AHD. Lastly, over-year storage facilities upstream in Ethiopia will allow Sudan to increase its water use. While this means new opportunities to develop extended irrigation-based agriculture for the Sudanese, it represents also a new threat for Egypt’s’ current Nile water utilisation (Whittington et al., 2014).

Resolution Efforts

After announcing the dam's construction, and with a view to the increasing tensions, the Ethiopian government invited both Egypt and Sudan to form an International Panel of Experts (IPoE) to solicit understanding of the benefits, costs and impacts of the GERD. The IPoE report recommended two studies to assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of GERD and was interpreted by both the Egyptian and the Ethiopian government as a vindication of their respective positions. Despite several tripartite meetings between November 2013 and January 2014, no agreement was reached on the implementation of the IPoE recommendations and controversies were evolving around the constitution of a trilateral committee. The change of government in Egypt led to a more conciliatory approach (Von Lossow & Roll, 2015).

Egypt's new stance
Egypt’s original goal was to have the project purely and simply cancelled. Given the advancement of the dam construction - the GERD being, as of March 2015, 40 percent complete, according to Ethiopia - Egypt had good reason to reconsider its position (Nazret, 2015). Tripartite negotiations resumed three weeks after Al-Sisi took office in June 2014. Between August and October 2014, a tripartite National Committee (TNC) was constituted, consisting of national experts. Rules of procedure of the TNC and Terms of References for two studies were agreed and an international tender organised. Al-Sisi’s government seems to deal with the dam more as a matter of fact issue. Upon signing a framework agreement in March 2015, Al-Sisi and former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn hailed the agreement as a 'new chapter in relations between Egypt and Ethiopia … based on openness and mutual understanding and cooperation' (Nazret, 2015).

Towards a political agreement
A political requirement will be to agree on rules for filling the GERD reservoir and on operating rules for the GERD, especially during periods of drought. All three countries have a vested interest in a properly operated dam. Egypt wants control and guarantees for its share of Nile waters. Ethiopia needs regional customers for its hydropower to ensure the economic feasibility of the GERD. Sudan’s agricultural and hydropower interests align with those of Ethiopia while it has a strong interest in not alienating its 'big brother' and northern neighbour, Egypt, with whom it shares a long and partly contested border (Whittington et al., 2014). The situation seemed to improve in the beginning of 2015 when tripartite negotiations were held in order to determine principles of cooperation. In March 2015, a 'Declaration of Principles' was signed by the leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, setting the foundations for an initial cooperation (Sudan Tribune, 2015a).

Significant hurdles still remain
However, an agreement was still far from reach. Since 2015, technical reports on the potential impacts of the dam have failed to reach a consensus within the TNC (Maguid, 2017). In addition, no independent, multilateral Environmental and Social Impact Assessments has been carried out – suggesting that Ethiopia is reneging from the 2015 ‘Declaration of Principles’ (Kandeel, 2020).

The principles of cooperation have not been translated into specific technical agreements on dam management (and more), in the context of difficult domestic politics for both sides. Neither the Egyptian nor the Ethiopian governments received positive domestic feedback on their agreement. Many historical grievances and distrust remain on the Ethiopian side regarding Egypt (Gebreluel, 2014). Some Ethiopian journalists assess the 'Declaration of Principles' as being more in favour of Egypt than Ethiopia (Zegabi East Africa News, 2015). On the other side, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt denounced a 'high treason' (Sudan Tribune, 2015b).

Sudan, caught between the competing interests of both Egypt and Ethiopia, has been changing its stance on the issue. Initially opposed to the GERD, Sudan later expressed support for its construction in 2013, claiming that it would serve the interests of all three nations (Maguid, 2017). Recently, however, Sudan has been more cautious with the project, citing concerns that the GERD’s operation and safety could jeopardise its own dams (The New Arab, 2020b).

Recent developments
Trilateral talks – mediated by the United States and World Bank from November 2019 to February 2020 – collapsed as Ethiopia rejected a binding agreement with Egypt and Sudan on the filling and operation of the GERD, which led to both downstream countries requesting intervention from the UN Security Council (UNSC) in May 2020 (Kandeel, 2020).

In June 2020, tensions escalated when Ethiopia declared its intent to fill the dam in July without an agreement, which again led to Egypt and Sudan requesting UNSC intervention on the matter (Kandeel, 2020). In response, Ethiopia threatened military force to defend the dam and protect its interests (The New Arab, 2020a). A more recent trilateral meeting mediated by the African Union in mid-July, however, appeared to diffuse the situation with all three countries reaching a “major common understanding” towards achieving an agreement (Al Jazeera, 2020). From this round of talks, it appears that negotiations are able to move forward and address other ‘sticking points’ on the agenda, such as conflict resolution mechanisms and the dam’s operations in the event of multi-year droughts (Al Jazeera, 2020).

Intensities & Influences
conflict intensity scale
International / Geopolitical Intensity
Human Suffering

Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Diplomatic Crisis Note of diplomatic crisis in case history, conflict purely verbal
Violent Conflict No
Salience within nation National
Mass Displacement None
Cross Border Mass Displacement No
Resolution Success
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future The capacity to address grievances in the future has increased.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been mostly addressed.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity Conflict resolution strategies have been clearly responsible for the decrease in conflict intensity.
General opencollapse
Country Data in Comparison
ConflictNoData Created with Sketch.
Fault Lines Defining Conflict Parties
Purely Environmental | Cultural   ♦   Occupational   ♦   Economic   ♦   Urban / Rural   ♦   National / International conflict   ♦   Sub-national political

Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Government of Egypt
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal International
Government of Ethiopia
Functional GroupNon-State Violent Actor
Geographical ScaleInternal International
Government of Sudan
Functional GroupNon-State Violent Actor
Geographical ScaleInternal International
Government of the United States of America
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
African Union
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
World Bank
Functional GroupCommercial
Geographical ScaleExternal
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
2 Mediation & arbitration A tripartite National Committee (TNC), consisting of national experts from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, was constituted in 2015 to determine principles of cooperation. Trilateral talks have also been mediated by external parties and organisations, including the United States, World Bank and, more recently, the African Union.
3 Treaty/agreement In March 2015, a 'Declaration of Principles' was signed by the leaders of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, setting the foundations for an initial cooperation. A political requirement will be to agree on rules for filling the GERD reservoir and on operating rules for the GERD, especially during periods of drought. This agreement could pave the way for a more detailed cooperation framework, and represents a major step toward dispute resolution.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Private good: Can be owned and is depleted from use.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Asymmetric: The power to affect the environmental resource is unequal.
Broad conflict characterization Resource capture is not present.
Ecological marginalization is not present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
Conflict References References with URL


Adaptation & Resilience

All countries will need to adapt to some of the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change that are already unavoidable. Food security, livelihoods, water resource availability and public health are some affected areas. People living in poverty are more vulnerable, having a lower capacity to adapt. Thus, it is essential to promote resilience building. The adaptation and resilience aspects need to be mainstreamed into planning by policy makers and the private sector as well as integrated into development strategies.

Biodiversity & Livelihoods

Nature protection is most sustainable if it essentially contributes to the long-term stability of human needs. Today many regions around the world are confronted with increasing destruction of the natural foundations of life. The consequences of wide-ranging resource destruction are no longer regionally limited, but rather represent a global threat. Those affected are mainly rural populations, who find the sources of their income and the foundations of their way of life swept away. The depletion and destruction of natural resources goes hand in hand with decreasing agricultural yields and increasing poverty, which in turn forces the affected populations to deplete the remaining resources.

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Capacity Building

On the one hand, conflicts are caused by structural factors, such as economic and social inequality or environmental destruction. On the other hand, conflicts are fuelled by a lack of democratic structures, deficient mechanisms of non-violent conflict settlement, inadequate rule of law, the destruction of social and cultural identity and the disregard of human rights. Against this backdrop, development policies have been dedicated to a broad concept of security, which comprises political, economic, ecological and social stability. As a consequence, development cooperation agencies and actors have developed a broad spectrum of approaches for conflict prevention and transformation as well as for sustainable use of natural resources.

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Civil Society

Civil society is the first victim of environmental pollution, under-development and conflicts. Economically disadvantaged and politically marginalized population groups are particularly affected by violent conflicts as well as increasing resource degradation. Simultaneously, civil society is a fundamental pillar for implementing sustainable development. It contributes in many ways to strengthening conflict prevention and plays a significant role in the peaceful and democratic development of states. It must be supported to strengthen civil rights, adherence to human rights in general and democratic participation.

Climate Change

Climate change resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases represents one of the vital challenges for international environmental policy. Flooding, droughts, shifting of climate zones and increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events will have serious economic and social consequences for entire regions. The climate problem is also directly linked to the question of future energy generation.

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Climate Diplomacy

To address the challenges posed by climate change, a new profile of climate diplomacy is evolving. This utilises a full range of policies, including development cooperation, conflict prevention efforts, and humanitarian assistance, in addition to more traditional measures of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moving from a risk analysis of climate-related threats to well-timed preventive action requires a greater commitment to integrating climate change concerns into development, foreign, and security policies. Examples include strengthening diplomatic networks, building new alliances with partners, and raising awareness – not only of potentially negative climate change impacts, but also of opportunities to embark on a sustainable transformation of our societies.

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Climate action entails an array of economic, social, political and environmental co-benefits. It provides an opportunity for economic growth and new jobs. Many investments can take into account climate considerations without becoming more costly. Further important co-benefits include: improved energy security, less local air and water pollution, health benefits as well as ecosystem and biodiversity protection.

Conflict Transformation

In order to overcome the structural causes of violent conflicts and thus bring about an improvement in the framework conditions for peaceful and fair development, it is essential to have long term and broadly planned peace development and peace advancement. Various governmental and non-governmental, national and international actors and groups are involved in these processes.

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Climate change and development are inextricably linked. Climate change endangers the development agenda and has the potential to reverse development goals. Furthermore, successful mitigation of climate change heavily depends on development choices around the world. Therefore, development strategies need to be climate-compatible to provide long-term success, and there are viable policy options that support this compatibility. Many mitigation and adaptation activities can present development opportunities to developing countries and avoid the lock-in to environmentally damaging technologies.

Early Warning & Risk Analysis

The reasons for the development and escalation of conflicts and the incidence of risks are multifaceted and complex. Simultaneously, the assessment of the specific causes in the form of risk and conflict analyses can contribute to a better understanding of these processes and make it possible to provide warning of negative developments, or ideally help prevent them. In the context of natural resource use, risks and conflicts have gained increasing attention in the past years. The debate on possible future water wars is merely one example.

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The well-being of individuals, communities and nations depends on the availability of energy resources. The gap between energy supply and demand appears to be growing, making the world vulnerable to serious economic shocks. At the same time, the burning of fossil fuels causing climate change is one of the vital challenges of international environmental policy. So far, only rudimentary approaches exist for shaping climate and energy security in a sustainable way. The components of a strategy that can contribute to reducing vulnerabilities related to climate change and energy policy include a greater role for renewable energies, the improvement of energy efficiency and a stronger decentralisation of energy supply.

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Environment & Migration

The economic, social and environmental consequences of climate change aggravate the breakdown of eco-system-dependent livelihoods and are likely to become dominant drivers of long-term migration. Natural disasters already cause massive shorter-term displacement and the number of temporarily displaced people is likely to further increase with climate change. For vulnerable populations in vulnerable regions, such as the Sahel zone or the Ganges delta, migration often becomes the sole survival strategy. In order to address climate-related displacement and migration successfully, knowledge of effective adaptation and an improved understanding of how environmental change affects human mobility is essential. 

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Climate finance, from all sources, plays a key role in supporting and enabling adaptation and mitigation action as well as climate and energy innovation. The Paris Agreement ensured that the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility are at the core of climate finance architecture as entities entrusted with the operation of the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC. Increasing climate finance from all relevant public and private sources is crucial. Furthermore, much needs to be done to redirect finance flows to sustainable paths, e.g. reducing fossil fuel subsidies, introducing maritime and air transportation taxes. The conditions for green investment in developing countries should also be improved.


Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Competition for forest resources triggers, exacerbates, or finances numerous crises and conflicts in tropical developing countries. Illegal logging and timber trade foster instability and sometimes violent conflict by strengthening illegal and armed groups, increasing corruption and exacerbating use and claim conflicts among local communities, the state and the business sector. Forests are a vital resource to poor people but they can also become areas of conflict. Sustainable management of forest resources is therefore key to preventing violent conflict over and within forests.

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Gender plays an important role as a category of conflict for many reasons. The interlinkages between gender, environment and conflicts are complex and much research is still needed. Existing insights suggest that conflicts may worsen gender inequalities that existed before the outbreak of violence. The unequal distribution of land property rights in many parts of the world serves as an example. Moreover, women (and children) are among those most affected by both violent conflict and natural disasters. At the same time, women carry much of the burden of trying to implement rehabilitation measures after crisis events.

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Land & Food

Increasing water scarcity, desertification and crop failures due to extreme weather events are becoming more and more of a threat to global food production. While the world’s population continues to grow rapidly, food production is unable to keep pace. Due to the global food crisis in 2008, the number of hungry people reached the symbolic one billion threshold for the first time – corresponding to about 16 percent of world population. Food insecurity may be a consequence or cause of conflicts. Violent conflicts often lead to the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and means of production, as well as to the displacement of local communities.

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Minerals & Mining

In the past, the discovery and tapping of valuable or strategic resources like valuable minerals, oil and natural gas, particularly in developing and emerging countries, has often led to large scale environmental contamination and negative development. The "resource curse" of some countries shows that the wealth from resource yields is frequently unfairly distributed; instead of serving development it advanced the formation of corrupt elites and in some cases even led to conflicts and civil wars. Measures in various sectors and at all levels are important in order to use the potential of these natural resources in a manner that is sustainable and prevents conflicts.

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Private Sector

The spread of violent conflict not only affects people but also companies located in such regions. Destruction of investments and infrastructure, collapse of markets and trade partnerships, flight and expulsion of employees are phenomena of conflicts and environment-induced crises that directly affect companies in unstable regions. Almost all branches of the economy thus have a clear interest in a stable and peaceful environment for their activities. Conversely, the business sector plays an important role in the interaction of economic growth, social development and a healthy environment, all of which can advance peace and sustainable development. 

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Environmental issues have a significant security dimension. Access to, and overuse of, natural resources often play a key role in civil wars or other forms of internal domestic conflict. This is compounded by climate change and environmental degradation. Climate change is now widely recognised as a non-traditional, risk-multiplying threat that will have increasing security impacts. Key risks with possible implications for human and national security include water scarcity, food crises, natural disasters, and displacement. More preventive diplomacy and advocacy is needed to address the strategic implications of climate and environmental change.

Sustainable Transformation

Sustainable Transformation allows societies to profit from a growing, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economy – especially in emerging and developing countries. This requires a higher up-front investment, but the benefits of a sustainable transformation in the medium and long term are significant. For instance, energy cost savings and reducing the impact of price volatility offer major incentives for deploying renewable energies and promoting energy efficiency. Such benefits exist in all key sectors of the economy.

Technology & Innovation

Innovations and technologies are already readily available and affordable but their global diffusion and uptake remains a challenge. Innovation and technology are crucial to achieving ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation targets. However, research and development often do not receive appropriate public support. Developing countries can leapfrog high-carbon industrialisation phases by adopting, deploying and improving existing innovations and technologies. For this, it is essential to minimise financial, administrative and political barriers.


The availability of freshwater resources in sufficient quantity and quality is essential for the preservation of human health and sound ecosystems. The use of water resources is also vital, however, for economic development: whether for agriculture, industrial production or for electricity generation. The world's freshwater resources are distributed very unevenly in terms of geography and seasons. In addition, water shortage is becoming more prevalent in several regions due to population growth, economic development, urbanisation and increasing environmental pollution. Thus, water resources can hold potential for conflicts between parties who have different interests and needs.

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The environment in Asia is already under tremendous pressure as a result of the unsustainable use of land, forests, water and even air in many regions. Climate change will only exacerbate these challenges. Rising sea levels will likely endanger densely populated areas, changes in the monsoon patterns can strongly impact agriculture, melting glaciers will increase long-term water scarcity, and extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and cyclones can pose further hazards.

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Central America & Caribbean

Natural disasters and water scarcity are key challenges for most of Central America and the Caribbean. These challenges will become even more pronounced as the climate changes. Weak resource and disaster risk management and land disputes pose additional security challenges for large parts of the region. Several countries of Central America and the Caribbean have limited adaptive capacities as they face political instability caused by high social inequality, crime, corruption, and intra-state conflicts.

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As one of the most developed and most densely populated regions in the world, Europe makes heavy use of its resources, resulting in difficult trade-offs and negative consequences for the environment and ecosystems. Land is used for settlements, agriculture and dense infrastructure, creating problems of soil degradation. Water resources are stressed due to unsustainable agricultural practices. Despite nature protection policies, Europe continues to lose biodiversity at an alarming pace. Some of these trends are exacerbated by climate change, which is expected, for instance, to lead to shifts in water availability.

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Global Issues

Resource scarcities, environmental pollution and climate change are not limited by national borders, but often have a transboundary or even global impact. These issues interact with political stability, governance structures and economic performance, and can trigger or worsen disputes and violent conflicts. Exacerbating some of these trends, climate change is likely to lead to the degradation of freshwater resources, declines in food production, increases in storm and flood disasters and environmentally induced migration. All these developments pose potential for conflict.

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Middle East & North Africa

The geopolitical position of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), its fossil fuel resources, high population growth and the political changes spurred by the Arab Spring all make the region one of the most dynamic in the world. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most arid and environmentally stressed. Dwindling water resources, limited arable and grazing land, high pollution from household and industrial waste, remnants of conflicts and increasing desertification are key environmental challenges.

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North America

Climate change has various impacts on the three North American countries of Canada, Mexico and the US. Canada and the US have well-developed adaptive capacities and foster the strengthening of capacities in other regions as well. With high per capita emissions, these two countries also bear a greater responsibility for a changing climate. Mexico has a sound national strategy for climate change adaptation, yet fewer capacities than Canada and the US. The poorer and rural populations of Mexico are especially vulnerable to climate change, due to an increased sensitivity and a lower adaptive capacity.

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Oceania & Pacific

In Oceania, population growth and economic development trends put a strain on oceanic and island ecosystems. Freshwater scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, loss of land biodiversity, forests and trees, invasive species, soil degradation, increasing levels of settlement, poor management of solid and hazardous waste and disproportionate use of coastal areas are some of the problems. Climate change exacerbates most of these trends, while also raising questions about the future sovereignty of some island states.

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South America

South America has diverse and unique ecosystems and is very rich in biodiversity. Weak natural resource management, land disputes and extreme weather events bring about significant challenges for the region. While South America accounts for relatively few CO2 emissions, the changing climate will alter its ecosystems and greater climate variability will lead to more hurricanes, landslides, and droughts.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

In many African states, environmental security issues rank high on the political agenda. Throughout the continent, countries suffer from water scarcity, food insecurity and energy poverty. These chronic and worsening resource scarcities have severe livelihood implications and are exacerbated by political conflicts over access to and control over these resources. Climate change may seriously threaten political and economic stability in Africa. It may also put a severe strain on the capacities of states and societies to co-ordinate activities, to communicate and to organize.

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