Water-related Conflicts Might Grow From Demand, Climate Change

Water-related Conflicts Might Grow From Demand, Climate Change

Around One-quarter of the Global Population Faces Severe Water Shortages and More Conflict

Extreme water shortages are being experienced around the world, from Indian to Yemen, the African Sahel to areas in Central America, and at this point, one-quarter of the global population people lack sufficient water resources. These water shortages are driving unrest, internal and external migration, and conflict, experts explained on a World Resources Institute (WRI) webinar.

The experts were convened to discuss the new WRI report, “Ending Conflicts Over Water: Solutions to Water and Security Challenges.” As the demand for adequate supplies of clean water grows in tandem with populations, climate change makes precipitation more unreliable and droughts more harsh which creates a greater likelihood of competition over scarcer water resources. These dynamics can have serious knock-on effects that spill out from one location into others.

“If there is no water, people will start to move. If there is no water, politicians are going to try and get their hands on it and they might start to fight over it,” warned Kitty van der Heijden, head of international cooperation at the Netherlands’ foreign ministry…”It’s threats like these that keep me up at night,”

The WRI assessed global water resources compared to demand and estimated that 17 countries face “extremely high” levels of water stress, just as more than two billion people live in countries facing “high” water stress.

Even though the expectations for tension over water remains, through the report the experts laid out options for decision-makers to take so that water crises can be avoided and conflict averted. Because agriculture and food production is the biggest user of water worldwide, that is the sector that requires the mots attention and the best place to start. Solutions offered in the report include water harvesting and more efficient irrigation. Cooperation among groups is essential.

[Thompson Reuters Foundation]