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Conflict and cooperation in the water-security nexus: A global comparative analysis of river basins under climate change

Link, P.M., Scheffran, J. and Ide, T.ORCID: 0000-0001-8401-2372 (2016) Conflict and cooperation in the water-security nexus: A global comparative analysis of river basins under climate change. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water, 3 (4). pp. 495-515.

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Adequate fresh water availability is an important factor for human security in many parts of the world. In transboundary river basins, decreased water supply due to local environmental change and global climate change and increased water demand due to growing populations and continued economic development can aggravate water scarcity. Contrary to the claim that water scarcity may result in an increased risk of armed conflict, there is no simple relationship between freshwater availability and violent conflict. Other crucial factors need to be taken into consideration that also directly influence resource availability and personal human well‐being. In this review, we assess the scientific literature on conflict and cooperation in transboundary river systems. Most international river basins are already jointly managed by the riparians, but successful management in times of climate change necessitates the inclusion of more factors besides mere allocation schemes. On the basis of a substantial body of literature on the management of transboundary watersheds, an analytical framework of the water‐security nexus is developed that integrates the physical and socioeconomic pathways connecting water availability with conflict or cooperation. This framework is subsequently applied to two transboundary river basins—the Nile River and the Syr Darya/Amu Darya—as they represent two world regions that could become future water hot spots. An improved understanding of the developments leading to water conflicts and their interaction can help to successfully reduce the risk of water conflicts in these regions and to move toward increased cooperation among the riparians of transboundary river systems.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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