Scientists at the European Union’s Joint Research Centre completed a study that identified potential zones of freshwater conflict and developed strategies to boost cooperation between affected countries. Because competition over limited water resources remains a chief concern that can create and worsen political tensions, instability and societal unrest, attention to such factors as climate change and demographics loom large.
The scientists highlighted a number of drivers that could increase political tension in transboundary river basins:
- The duo of climate change and population growth is more likely to aggravate hydro-political problems.
- Conflicts over water have a higher probability of occurring in locations that are already under water stress.
The river basins identified as most at risk for rising tensions are those around the Nile, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Indus, Tigris-Euphrates and Colorado. The scientists emphasize that conflict between countries and various parties are not a foregone conclusion and intend for their study to encourage water cooperation, which has often been true for shared waters around the world.