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Climate Change and Water Insecurity in the Middle East


Neda Zawahri

Climate change is expected to make the relatively hot, arid, and semi-arid Middle East even hotter and drier. Due to its high vulnerability, the IPCC classifies this region of the world as a 'hotspot' to the impacts of climate change. As the region's temperature continues to rise, precipitation decreases and varies inter-seasonally, and prolonged along with frequent droughts plague the region, the ability to meet individual and national water, energy, and food security needs will continue to diminish considerably. Inability to secure these essential basic services and goods will continue to threaten the livelihood, health, and safety of millions of vulnerable people across the region. As the poor across the region fall deeper into poverty, the rate of rural to urban migration is likely to increase and militant groups may find fresh recruits as poor desperate unemployed and underemployed young men and women search for jobs. The ability to build adaptive capacity to climate change varies considerably across the region, but solutions are available, and adaptation in the highly vulnerable water sector is possible. Dr. Neda Zawahri studies environmental politics, environmental security, and international relations in the Middle East and South Asia. Her current research agenda focuses on 1) adapting to climate change in the Middle East; 2) the role of institutions in governing transboundary water resources at the global and regional levels; 3) water, food, and energy security in conflict-affected areas; and 4) the domestic politics of water management. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Zawahri has conducted extensive field research in the Middle East and South Asia and published over 30 articles and book chapters. She is currently on the editorial board of Environment and Security. Dr. Zawahri is editor of The Role of Formal and Informal Institutions in Managing Transboundary Basins (Forthcoming, World Scientific). She has co-edited special issues in International Studies Quarterly, International Environmental Agreements, and International Negotiation. Dr. Zawahri's articles appear in top journals in international relations and environmental politics, including Journal of Peace Research, International Studies Quarterly, Foreign Policy, Global Environmental Politics, and International Environmental Agreements.


Climate, Global, Humanities, Lecture/Talk, Middle East focus, Politics, Research, Social Sciences