Although water is an essential input for agriculture and industrial production, it is also scarce in many regions. When it crosses international borders via shared rivers, lakes and aquifers, it can become a source of conflict and contention. Yet while water can be a source of instability, especially in the face of climate change, it can also be a source or catalyst for cooperation and even peace.
Water is critical. It grows our food, generates our energy, and ensures our prosperity. To address the challenges that stand in the way of building healthy, prosperous, and peaceful communities, we must first tackle the challenge of water insecurity.
What exactly triggers food riots? At which point does climate change come in? And what can we learn from analyzing the lack and impotence of government action in conflict areas? In our Editor’s Pick, we share 10 case studies from the interactive ECC Factbook that address the connections between food, the environment and conflict. They show how agriculture and rural livelihoods can affect stability in a country, which parties are involved in food conflicts and what possible solutions are on the table.
In July 2018, a partially completed dam in Laos’ Attapeu province collapsed, washing away people and villages in its path. Hundreds of people were missing and more than six thousand lost their homes. And after last summer’s hurricanes, U.S. citizens in Houston and Puerto Rico escaped death but were forced to evacuate when dams were flooded. Dam failure can be catastrophic for people, property, and power – and the risks are rising.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Bank predict that water scarcity, induced by climate change, will potentially reduce GDP of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by 6 to 14% by 2050, if nothing is done to address this. In the report, the agencies highlight water and agriculture as key to conflict recovery, stabilization and peace building in the region currently experiencing armed conflicts and large refugee movements.
The experience of the Saralbhanga River, which flows from Bhutan to India, shows the power of involving local people in river management.
China’s vision of a global energy system overemphasises the benefits of connectivity. Planners and investors also have to consider the potential impacts on biodiversity and local community livelihoods from different power generation methods and find ways to prevent them.
A new report analyses how the transition to a low-carbon economy – and the minerals and metals required to make that shift – could affect fragility, conflict, and violence dynamics in mineral-rich states.
Ignoring cross border impacts of large infrastructure projects will spark conflict along rivers, argues Peter King. National level environmental impact assessments that ignore cross border impacts are likely to create conflict between countries.
The “Environment, Conflict and Cooperation” (ECC) exhibition visualizes the dramatic and growing impact of global environmental change. It demonstrates how climate change can threaten the security of the Asian continent, and showcases how climate, environment and sustainable development cooperation can contribute to stability and peace. Dealing with themes such as water, natural resources and climate change, the exhibition shows how environmental degradation and resource scarcity can spark conflict and create new security risks.
Access to and competition over natural resources has been one of the most common triggers for conflict. Throughout the centuries, countries and communities have fought over productive agricultural land, trade routes, spices, textiles, opium, and oil, to name just a few. But the battle over one natural resource—fish—has long been overlooked. As trends in the global fish industry increasingly mirror the conflict-ridden oil sector, fish may become the newest addition to the list of resources driving geopolitical competition. There are five parallels between oil and fish that call for increasing the sustainability of the fishing industry, or we might find ourselves facing what U.S. Coast Guard Captain Jay Caputo has called “a global fish war.”
The High Level Conference on the Lake Chad Region will be held in Berlin at the German Federal Foreign Office from 3 to 4 September 2018. Germany will be co-hosting the event with Nigeria, Norway and the United Nations.
Population pressure, a lack of economic opportunities, environmental degradation, and new forms of travel are contributing to human displacement and unsafe migration on an unprecedented scale. And as millions more people see climate change erode their livelihoods, the problem will get worse in the absence of visionary global leadership.
The workshop is offered by EcoPeace’s Program for Water Security to connect EcoPeace’s experience in the Middle East with the capacity building needs of civil society organizations coping with conflict, poor governance and water insecurity worldwide. Through the Program for Water Security, EcoPeace seeks to create long-term partnerships with civil society organizations worldwide and create a global network of environmental peacebuilders.
The latest issue of the European Security and Defence Union Journal looks into the security challenges brought by climate-related impacts. The issue addresses climate change as a risk multiplier in fragile contexts. Environmental stress, the weaponization of water, monitoring technologies and the role of armed forces are some of the topics.