ECC Platform Library


The Role of Water Resources in the Sudan-South Sudan Peace Process

Type of conflict
Intensity 1
Northern Africa
Time 2005 ‐ ongoing
Countries S. Sudan, Sudan
Resources Water
Conflict Summary The issue of water resources sharing and management has played an important role in the Sudan-South Sudan peace process. In the 2005-2011 interim period, the...
The Role of Water Resources in the Sudan-South Sudan Peace Process
The issue of water resources sharing and management has played an important role in the Sudan-South Sudan peace process. In the 2005-2011 interim period, the government in Khartoum was responsible for transboundary waters, including the Nile waters. Southern Sudan did not claim a more active role in water management, partly to avoid jeopardizing its prospects for self-determination. However, water resources officially ranked as one of the priority issues to be resolved before independence. Since no conclusive agreement could be reached, water has remained a key item on the bilateral post-independence agenda between Sudan and South Sudan.
Conceptual Model

Climate Change

Climate change in the region is expected to negatively affect water availability due to decreasing rainfall and increasing temperatures.

Intermediary Mechanisms

In light of the growing water demands on both sides and the expected impacts of climate change, Sudan’s current share of Nile waters may no longer suffice or be available in the future.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

If the allocation of Sudan’s current share of Nile waters becomes more contentious, water allocation conflicts between Sudan and South Sudan could emerge, and might have basin-wide repercussions.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversChanging climate leads to decreased water availability.In-migration leads to demographic change.Demographic changes increase pressures on available water resources.Economic developments place additional strains on water resources.Legal / Political interference restricts access to water resources.Freshwater becomes scarce as an essential resource. Reduced availability of/access to natural resources leads to tensions between states.A slow change in climatic conditions, particularly temperature and precipitation.Gradual Change in Temperature and/or PrecipitationAn increase in the scarcity of clean water and/or an increased variability in water supply.Increased Water ScarcityVoluntary or involuntary movement of people from one area to another.Migration patternsChange in population density, age structure, or ethnic makeup.Demographic ChangeA broad concept to cover economic growth in general but also specific economic changes or changes of incentives.Economic DevelopmentLaws and/or interventions by political actors restrict the access to natural resources.Legal / Political InterferenceReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural ResourcesTensions between states that may but need not escalate into overt violent conflict.Interstate Tensions
Context Factors
  • History of Conflict
  • Low Level of Economic Development
  • Political Transition
Conflict History

In 2005, the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA ended a devastating civil war in Sudan, and recognized the right to self-determination of the people of southern Sudan, to be exercised in a referendum in January 2011. The main provisions of the CPA were also reflected in the Interim National Constitution, which contained governance provisions for the 2005-2011 interim period. In July 2011, six months after the referendum, the new state of South Sudan formally came into existence (Salman, 2011b; Salman, 2014). During the interim period, water resources emerged as one of the key issues to be resolved between the north and the south. As water-related issues could not be settled before independence, they now need to be negotiated between two sovereign countries. Today, the most important of these issues concern Nile water allocation, the Jonglei Canal Project, and South Sudan’s role with respect to the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) and the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA). The CFA can be described as an attempt to establish a permanent legal and institutional framework for governing the Nile River Basin. The agreement was opened for signature in 2010, but has not yet entered into force due to inter-riparian disagreements.

The role of water during the interim period, 2005-2011

Water under the CPA and the Interim National Constitution
The CPA’s Power Sharing Agreement and the Interim National Constitution granted the government in Khartoum exclusive jurisdiction over the Nile and other transboundary waters, while responsibility for local water resources management was transferred to the government in the south. Despite the fact that 98 percent of southern Sudan was located within the Nile Basin, the SPLM/A refrained from demanding a stronger role in Nile water management during the interim period. Two main reasons help explain this cautious stance (Salman, 2011b). First, the SPLM/A apparently feared that its hard-won right to self-determination could be endangered if it became too involved in Nile politics. Indeed, politics on the Nile had been highly controversial, and especially the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), under negotiation since 1997, divided the riparian states (see: Dispute over Water in the Nile Basin). Egypt and Sudan defended previous agreements concluded in 1929 and 1959, which allocated almost all of the Nile’s total flow (84 billion cubic meters, or BCM) to Egypt (55.5 BCM) and Sudan (18.5 BCM). Other riparian states such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania rejected those agreements, and requested a more equitable sharing of Nile waters under the CFA. To avoid being perceived as a “…new competitor for the Nile River waters, or at least a complicating factor in an already complex situation” (Salman, 2011b, 161), the SPLM/A apparently chose to take a backseat on Nile water issues. Second, the SPLM/A might have assumed that Sudan’s annual share of 18.5 BCM could rather easily accommodate the south’s water needs, because Sudan had not exhausted its share (using only 14-15 BCM so far); because southern Sudan had no large-scale agricultural projects at the time; and because heavy rains in the south had always been sufficient for maintaining subsistence farming and community livestock herds.

The 2009 Southern Sudan Referendum Act
In 2009, the Southern Sudan Referendum Act was passed. It listed ten key issues that the north and the south needed to settle. Besides issues such as nationality, currency, public service, and oil contracts, the Act also mentioned water resources as a matter of priority, referring primarily to the sharing and management of the Nile waters between Sudan and the new state of South Sudan. While negotiations on some of these complex outstanding issues had started a few months before the referendum, no agreements could be reached by the time of the referendum (January 2011) or independence (July 2011). Thus, after July 2011, all pending issues – including water resources – had to be negotiated and resolved between two sovereign countries (Salman, 2011b).

Unresolved water issues post-independence, 2011-present

Sharing the Nile waters
After independence, South Sudan started to demand a share of the annual 18.5 BCM of Nile waters allocated to Sudan under the 1959 water agreement. At first glance, Sudan should be able to accommodate these demands. As noted above, in the past, the country’s water use amounted to no more than 14-15 BCM per year. On closer examination, however, several factors are complicating this situation. Because of the south’s secession, Sudan lost a considerable share of its oil revenue, and now plans to compensate for this loss through irrigated agriculture. The government has also begun to lease large land areas to foreign investors and other countries for growing food crops. Construction of new hydro-electric dams and expansion of existing ones will likewise demand more water (Salman, 2011b; Salman, 2014). South Sudan, for its part, is also claiming a larger share of water in order to rehabilitate agricultural projects, move toward sufficiency in food production, implement plans for hydro-dams, and meet the needs of returning southern Sudanese and internally displaced persons (Mbaku & Smith, 2012; Ngor, 2012; Salman, 2011b; Salman, 2014). In addition to these developments, climate change in the region is expected to lead to decreasing rainfall and increasing air temperatures. These changes are likely to negatively affect water availability due to higher evapotranspiration rates and more droughts (Warner et al., 2015). In light of the growing water demands on both sides and the expected impacts of climate change, the current 18.5 BCM (which in any case are challenged by upstream riparians) may no longer suffice or be available in the future, and water allocation conflicts between Sudan and South Sudan could emerge. Given that water allocation is closely linked to broader Nile Basin politics, such conflicts might have basin-wide repercussions.

The Jonglei Canal Project
If the allocation of Sudan’s current share of Nile waters becomes more contentious, the government in Khartoum may bring up the issue of water loss in the swamps of South Sudan. Currently, a large amount of water is lost each year in the Sudd and other wetlands due to evaporation and seepage. Plans for a canal to circumvent these wetlands to increase the flow of the White Nile date back to the early 20th century. Although construction of the so-called Jonglei Canal began in 1978, it came to a complete halt in 1984 when the SPLM/A attacked the canal site. Its main criticism was that the project benefitted the north and Egypt, while neglecting or harming living conditions in the south (Salman, 2011b; Sullivan, 2010). From the beginning of the interim period, the SPLM/A asserted itself against reviving the Jonglei Canal or similar water conservation projects. Due to South Sudan’s sovereignty, any resumption or initiation of such projects “…would [now] need the full agreement and cooperation of both the government of South Sudan and the local communities in the area…” (Salman, 2011b, 164). The incentives presented to South Sudan, the positions of affected communities and NGOs, and the fact that the Sudd since 2006 has the status of a Ramsar wetland of international importance are likely to play a role in Juba’s decision-making on the Jonglei Canal. However, the current security situation in the swamps areas, characterized by inter-tribal fighting, food shortages and military clashes, would appear to make a timely resumption of construction activities highly unlikely (Salman, 2011b; Salman, 2014).

Relationship with the other Nile riparian states
Beyond bilateral water disputes, it was expected that the new state of South Sudan would come to play a critical role in Nile Basin politics. With respect to the CFA, some predicted that both the CFA’s opponents (Sudan and Egypt) as well as its proponents (Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Burundi) would do their best to bring – or even pressure – South Sudan to their side (Salman, 2011b). The CFA needs a minimum of six instruments of ratification to enter into force. At the time of South Sudan’s independence, the agreement had been signed by the six proponent states. Between 2013 and 2015, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania also ratified the CFA (NBI, 2016b). South Sudan’s support for the CFA is seen as crucial by these states, since it “…would provide a cushion in case one of the other six changes its mind or delays its ratification” (Salman, 2011a).

Resolution Efforts

UN Watercourses Convention
As suggested by Salman (2011b; 2014), the UN Watercourses Convention, which entered into force in August 2014, could provide guidance for the allocation of Nile waters between Sudan and South Sudan. Neither country is a party to the Convention, with concerns stemming from the perception that the Convention may not be conducive to certain national interests (Salman, 2007). Nevertheless, many of its provisions, including those on equitable and reasonable utilization, are considered to be part of customary international law. Guided by the principles of international water law, factors to consider in water allocation might include Sudan’s current and planned uses; the expected future uses of South Sudan; the amount of Nile waters crossing from South Sudan into Sudan and Egypt; and rainfall in South Sudan as alternative water sources (Salman, 2014).

Improvements in water efficiency and water conservation
Improvements in water efficiency in Sudan, especially in irrigated agriculture, could significantly reduce the country’s present and future water uses. This, in turn, could decrease pressure on the Nile water resources, and possibly relieve tensions over water-sharing with South Sudan. Water conservation projects in South Sudan, especially in the Sudd area, have the potential to enlarge the amount of water to be shared between the two countries. However, such conservation projects have remained highly controversial, and under the current circumstances, their implementation appears relatively unlikely (see below).

Egypt-South Sudan relations
Due to its high stakes and dependence on Nile waters, Egypt has become increasingly concerned about post-independence tensions and instability in South Sudan. As long as the country remains politically volatile, resuming work on the Jonglei Canal or similar projects appears unrealistic. Increasing the flow of the White Nile is now a priority for Cairo, especially since Ethiopia has begun construction of its Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile (International Rivers, 2014; see: Disputes over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)), thereby further intensifying water security concerns in Egypt (see: Security Implications of Growing Water Scarcity in Egypt). Under these circumstances, for Egypt, South Sudan is currently “…the most important Nile Basin country because of the possibility of implementing projects to increase Egypt’s share of the river’s water by harnessing the water currently lost on South Sudanese territory to forests and swamps” (Al Monitor, 2014). As a result, Egypt has stepped up diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis South Sudan, and has also expressed its willingness to engage in bilateral military cooperation or U.N. peacekeeping to improve the security situation. Also, in a nod to South Sudan’s long-standing criticism of the Jonglei Canal, there seems to be growing awareness in Egypt that any water conservation project “…should include developing local communities in South Sudan, not just harnessing lost Nile water for Egypt’s benefit” (Al Monitor, 2014). As another step in a series of “strong political and technical moves [by Egpyt] to earn the trust of South Sudan,” the two countries in November 2014 signed an agreement to increase cooperation on water resources management (Al Monitor, 2015; Sudan Tribune, 2014). Despite these measures, the government of South Sudan maintains its opposition to the Jonglei Canal project, at least until additional studies on environmental and social impacts have been carried out.

South Sudan’s NBI membership
In September 2011, only two months after independence, South Sudan announced its intention to join the NBI. According to Mbaku and Smith (2012, 11), “[t]his swift announcement indicates the priority granted to water, especially that from the Nile River, in the new country’s development plans.” South Sudan was admitted to the NBI in July 2012 (NBI, 2016a), and the government subsequently expressed its intention to join the CFA (Al Jazeera, 2013). To date, South Sudan has not yet signed the agreement, and the recent rapprochement with Egypt (which rejects the CFA) might affect the political calculations of the Government of South Sudan. Whether or not South Sudan joins the CFA thus remains to be seen. What seems certain, however, is that this decision will greatly impact not only the domestic political and security situation in South Sudan, but also the broader power dynamics in the Nile Basin.

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

Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Diplomatic Crisis No diplomatic crisis
Violent Conflict No
Salience within nation National
Resolution Success
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 partially addressed.
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

Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Government of Sudan
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Government of South Sudan
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Government of Egypt
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
0 Peacekeeping To stabilize the security situation in South Sudan, Egypt has offered closer military cooperation or peacekeeping assistance to South Sudan.
2 Treaty/agreement South Sudan and Egypt have signed an agreement to increase cooperation on water resources management. Furthermore, South Sudan’s accession to the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) offers prospects for joint management of the Nile water resources.
0 Improving resource efficiency Improvements in water efficiency and water conservation could relieve pressure on the Nile water resources, thereby facilitating water-sharing between Sudan and South Sudan. However, to date, adoption of new technologies and implementation of infrastructure projects are hampered by economic underdevelopment, instability, and political controversy.
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 Mixed: The abilities of parties to affect the environmental resource is mixed.
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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