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Israel-Palestine: Water-Quality Issues

Type of conflict sub
Intensity 2
Region
Western Asia
Time 1948 ‐ ongoing
Countries Israel, Palestine
Resources Water, Ecosystem Stability
Conflict Summary Water-quality issues form an important part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite the efforts of the countries’ leaders to establish peace and to...
Israel-Palestine: Water-Quality Issues
Water-quality issues form an important part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite the efforts of the countries’ leaders to establish peace and to jointly protect water in the 1990s, both parties have failed to sustain cooperation. As this environmental issue transcends state boundaries, the failure to jointly address water-quality issues has had consequences on the environment and put the health of both the Israeli and Palestinian populations at risk.
Conceptual Model

Intermediary Mechanisms

The potential hazards of contaminated water put the health of both the Israeli and Palestinian populations at risk. Water used by Israeli desalination plants to produce drinking water has already been affected, and reports show that 95% of water in Gaza is undrinkable. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have not been able to isolate water issues from the conflict in the context of a zero-sum political relationship.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

Although cooperation was attempted in the 1990s, until today the political antagonism between both parties has thwarted any joint water-sharing and water-protecting efforts.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversDemographic changes increase pressures on available water resources.Economic activity causes pollution.Infrastructure development leads to environmental degradation.Freshwater becomes scarce as an essential resource. Pollution creates public health risks.Pollution reduces available/usable freshwater.State elites strategically use resource scarcity for political advantage/power.Public health risks create or aggravate interstate tensions.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 ScarcityA broad concept to cover economic growth in general but also specific economic changes or changes of incentives.Economic DevelopmentPollution and degradation of ecosystems, such as coral reefs.Pollution / Environmental DegradationConstruction 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 ResourcesRisks to the health of the population.Public Health RisksUse 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
  • History of Conflict
  • Power Differential
Conflict History

Since the creation of Israel in 1948, Israeli-Palestinian relations have remained contentious. After the six-day war in 1967 and the nationalisation by Israel of the occupied territories’ water resources, water reached a prominent place in the conflict. Although cooperation was attempted in the 1990s, until today the political antagonism between both parties has stymied joint water-sharing and water-protecting efforts. This case study will focus on the water-quality aspect of the conflict, whereas another case deals with water-sharing issues more generally (see Israel-Palestine: Water-sharing conflict).

Conflict Background
Amongst the three water sources shared by Israel and Palestine, Israel is located upstream on the Coastal Aquifers and downstream on the Mountain aquifer, the most important water source for Israel and Palestinians. Israel is also located both upstream and downstream of the Jordan. Whilst Palestinian use of water has been restricted by Israel since 1970 (see Israel-Palestine: Water-sharing conflict), Israel has been pumping more water than sustainable from the aquifers.

Water pollution and environmental hazards
The water issue between both countries goes beyond water-allocation aspects. Over-pumping has contributed to pollution from agrochemical products as well as seawater infiltrations (Brooks and Trottier, 2010). In addition to that, water quality in Israel and Palestine has been further affected due to widespread wastewater discharge into the environment.

Since the 1980s, Israel took unilateral measures to treat wastewater released by Israeli cities, which was polluting its water sources. The rapprochement of Israel and Palestine in the 1980s contributed to the signature of two peace agreements, in which both planned to cooperate on joint water-protection mechanisms. Yet whilst Israel has been taking measures to ensure wastewater treatment, infrastructure is lacking in the West bank until today and the population continues to discharge untreated sewage into the environment (Dinar et al., 2011). This pollutes water streams, which flow downstream to Israel and Gaza, and contaminates groundwater aquifers (Ibid.). In 2004, 60 million cubic meters of wastewater were discharged into the environment (Ibid.). The impact of such practices is even greater in industrial centres, such as Hebron’s industrial zone, which discharges highly hazardous carcinogenic chemicals into water streams, in part as a consequence of an Israeli import ban on water treatment chemicals that were identified as dual-use goods (Friedman, 2014). Not only do these carcinogenic chemicals infiltrate in the soils downstream, but they also pollute the water used by Israeli desalination plants to produce drinking water for the Israeli population (Ibid.).


An unsustainable situation for both parties
Even though Israel succeeded in unilaterally creating new water sources to meet the demands of its population, water protection require joint efforts from both Israelis and Palestinians. Reports which point out that 95% of water in Gaza is undrinkable demonstrate the emergency of the situation for Palestinians (EWASH, 2011). A 2015 UNCTAD report concurred, noting that '[t]he damage of contamination and over abstraction is such that the aquifer may be unusable by 2016 and, if unaddressed, the damage may be irreversible by 2020' (para. 46.).

Moreover, the potential hazards of contaminated water flowing into Israelis households also show the impacts of the status quo on Israel and its population. Unsuccessful attempts to put aside tensions to cooperate on water issues have shown that parties were not able to isolate water from the conflict, in contrast to the case of Armenia and Turkey (see Turkey-Armenia: water cooperation despite tensions). Nevertheless, it can be hoped that the unsustainability of the situation will lead both countries to remedy the water-quality issues and accept the support of the international community in doing so.


 

Resolution Efforts

The Oslo Agreement: towards a solution to water-quality issues
Following secret meetings, which were held in parallel to the Middle-East Peace Process with the facilitation of the US and Norway, Israel and Palestine reached a peace agreement in 1993. In this “Declaration of Principles”, both parties agreed on temporary water allocations (Brooks and Trottier, 2010). It was only in 1995, with the Oslo II interim agreement, that issues of water quality and sewage were addressed (Dinar et al., 2011). The agreement established a Joint Water Committee as well as a Joint Palestinian-Israeli Environment Expert Committee (EEC) and gave each party a veto right regarding water-development projects (Ibid.). Through meetings of the Joint Committees, the Palestinian Authority agreed to build Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) and to link certain cities in the West Bank to a WWTP located on Israeli territory (Ibid.). From the beginning of the joint operations, international donors played a major role in financially supporting costly Israeli-Palestinian sewage treatment projects (Al-Sa’ed et al., 2014).  

Bilateral tensions prevent cooperation
Two years after the establishment of the Commissions, tensions reoccurred between both sides, which accused each other of violating the agreements (Dinar et al., 2011). Moreover, the Commission’s projects to link Jewish settlements to the West Bank’s WWTPs and to connect Palestinian cities to Israel’s WWTP – which represented for Palestinians a breach of sovereignty – met strong Palestinian opposition. According to the PA, such projects were “desirable from an environmental perspective, but not from a political one” (Ibid.).

Cooperation to control transboundary pollution was further affected due to the 2000 uprisings of the second Intifada, which caused considerable damage to water and wastewater infrastructure in the West Bank (Ibid.). International donors were forced to interrupt the construction of several WWTPs due to violence, and bilateral cooperation stopped during the first six months of the conflict (Ibid.).

Even though Palestinian and Israeli leaders publicly committed to separate water cooperation from the conflict (Ibid.), the Israeli army prevented the construction of WWTPs for Palestinians in the West Bank, although these had received all necessary permits (Al-Sa’ed et al, 2014). As Al-Sa’ed et al. argue, since the 1995 water treaty, Israel has continuously used its veto power over Palestinian wastewater development projects and prevented donor-funded sanitation infrastructure from getting the necessary permits for construction (Ibid.; Friedman, 2014). Israel even prevented Palestinians from the effective use of a treatment plant – which was built in 1998 by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – for fear that Palestinians could use one of the recycling components – sulphuric acid – to build a bomb (Friedman, 2014).

The inability of Israeli and Palestinian leaders to isolate water despite the considerable environmental impacts of wastewater discharge for both countries shows how difficult cooperation is in the context of an antagonistic, zero-sum political relationship.

Water-quality issues cannot be solved unilaterally
However, none of the parties benefit from such a situation. Even though technology developments – desalination plants – have allowed Israel to develop new water resources, water protection cannot be achieved unilaterally.  Any rehabilitation measures unilaterally undertaken by Israel downstream are insufficient as long as polluted water continues to come from the West Bank upstream. Considering the impacts of contaminated water on the population’s health, cooperation over water quality should be an urgent priority. This urgency for mitigation actions is compounded by the consequences of over-pumping (notably salinisation) and the predicted effects of climate change (sea-water infiltrations). In principle, international donors – notably USAID, Germany's Development Bank (KFW), France's Development Agency's (AFD), the European Union and Japan's International Cooperation Agency (JICA) – who already funded wastewater projects since 1995, have pledged to provide the funds needed to remedy the wastewater situation (Al-Sa’ed et al, 2014). The support of the international community is however conditional on its acceptance by both sides.

Civil society activism
Whereas the governments of Israelis and Palestinians have been unable to break the deadlock on many questions of transboundary water cooperation, the region has also born witness to remarkable civil society activism in the interest of both peace and environmental sustainability by promoting cooperative efforts to protect a shared environmental heritage. EcoPeace Middle East (formerly Friends of the Earth Middle East) unites Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists and seeks to further its objectives both through advocacy at the national and international level and grassroots activism, e.g. by building capacity at community level and seeking to strengthen cross-border environmental cooperation at the local level (for a short history & lessons learnt of the organization, see EcoPeace Middle East, no date).

 

 

 

 
 

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

Influences
Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Manifest Crisis
Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation National
Mass Displacement None
Cross Border Mass Displacement No
Resources
Water, Ecosystem Stability
Resolution Success
Reduction in Violence There was no reduction in violence.
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future There is no increased capacity to address grievances in the future.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been mostly ignored.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity There has been no reduction in 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


Actors
Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Israel Government
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Joint Water Committee
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal International
Joint Palestinian-Israeli Environment Expert Committee
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal International
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Japan International Cooperation Agency
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
French Development Agency (AFD)
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
0 Cooperation Due to the transboundary nature of the water sources in both Israel and Palestine, water protection cannot be achieved unilaterally. Cooperation over water quality should be an urgent priority.
2 Mediation & arbitration International donors such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Germany's Development Bank (KFW), France's Development Agency's (AFD), the European Union, and Japan's International Cooperation Agency (JICA) played a major role in financially supporting costly Israeli-Palestinian sewage treatment projects. The support of the international community is however conditional on its acceptance by both sides.
3 Treaty/agreement Issues of water quality and sewage were addressed in an agreement between Israel and Palestine in 1995. The agreement established a Joint Water Committee and a Joint Palestinian-Israeli Environment Expert Committee (EEC).
1 Improving infrastructure & services Palestine agreed to build Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) through meetings of the Joint Committees. However, the Israeli army prevented the construction of WWTPs for Palestinians in the West Bank.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Common-pool resource: No one can be excluded from use but the good is depleted.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Asymmetric: The power to affect the environmental resource is unequal.
Broad conflict characterization Resource Capture is strongly present.
Ecological marginalization is not present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
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Topics

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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Cities

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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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Co-Benefits

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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Development

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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Energy

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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Finance

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

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

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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Security

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.

Water

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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Regions

Asia

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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Europe

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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