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Fresh Water Resources

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Policymakers face a host of overlapping demographic, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges as they strive to fulfill the world’s growing water needs. Global climate change threatens to exacerbate these strains, generating both chronic pressures on water availability, such as shifting precipitation patterns, and acute crises, such as floods and droughts. In 2015, we will continue to explore the potential for future conflict and the opportunities for greater cooperation to mitigate collective risks and manage shared water resources, focusing on South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.


On February 10, 2014, BBC Persian airs an interview with David Michel about increased stresses on water resources in Iran. The introduction is in Persian, the interview is in english with Persian subtitles. To watch the interview, click here.

On September 30, 2013, Christian Science Monitor publishes an op-ed by Russell Sticklor, “How to Win the Next Mideast War — Over Water.” To read the full article, click here. The piece also appears in the Gulf News (United Arab Emirates). To read, click here.

On September 1, 2013, Madeline Bergner publishes “Developing Nepal’s Hydroelectric Resources: Policy Alternatives.” Berger produced the report for the Stimson Environmental Security Program, under the auspices of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia. To download the full report, click here.

On June 26, 2013, International Business Times publishes an op-ed by David Michel, “Egypt, Ethiopia Water Dispute Threatens Nations.” To read the full article, click here.

On March 4, 2013, Scientific American publishes “Climate Change and Rising Food Prices Heightened Arab Spring,” drawing upon David Michel and Mona Yacoubian’s analysis of the subject. To read the full article, click here.

On March 2, 2013, the New York Times‘ Tom Friedman publishes an op-ed titled “The Scary Hidden Stressor,” discussing “The Arab Spring and Climate Change” report released by the Center for American Progress, the Stimson Center, and the Center for Climate and Security. To read the full article, click here.

On February 28, 2013, the Stimson Center, Center for American Progress, and Center for Climate & Security jointly release a new report “The Arab Spring and Climate Change.”  The Center of American Progress hosted the launch event, which featured New York Times columnist Tom Friedman and Anne-Marie Slaughter, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and former Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department. To watch video from the event, please click here. To download the full volume, which includes David Michel and Mona Yacoubian’s chapter “Sustaining the Spring: Economic Challenges, Environmental Risks, and Green Growth,” please click here.

In November 2012, National Defense Magazine interviews David Michel about the growing security implications of climate change, for a Special Report on the Top Five Threats to National Security in the Coming Decade. To read the full article, click here.

David Michel serves on the peer-review committee for a National Research Council report, Himalayan Glaciers: Climate Change, Water Resources, and Water Security, released in September 2012. The report can be downloaded from the National Academies Press here.

David Michel and Mona Yacoubian co-author “Arab Spring Must Also Weather Environmental Threats,” published in Al-Monitor on July 30, 2012. Click here to read. 

From June 26-28, 2012, the Stimson Center hosts a conference in Kathmandu with the support of the US State Department, bringing together Indian and Pakistani scientists, agricultural economists, water experts, and climate-change modelers to discuss best water management practices in the Indus River Basin. The conference is the first of two to be held in Asia this year. Participants identified existing knowledge gaps between India and Pakistan, and discussed how to increase transparency in managing transboundary waters through increased data-sharing on 1) water inflow levels into the basin and 2) climate change impacts on snowpack- and glacial melt rates in the Indus headwater regions. 

Alongside renowned Indian glaciologist Syed Iqbal Hasnain and former Regional Voices project director Amit Pandya, David Michel hosts and leads a three-day workshop on Middle Eastern and North Africa water issues as part of the 2012 US-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar. The workshop, running from May 28 through May 31, 2012, is bringing together hydrological experts and water managers from across the region to discuss the impacts of population growth and climate change on water supply, as well as best water management practices for both domestic and transboundary water supplies. Click here to read the working paper Stimson Center staff prepared for the conference (“Water Challenges and Cooperative Response in the Middle East and North Africa”), and click here for more information on the conference.

On May 9, 2012, Stimson Center President Ellen Laipson participates in a roundtable discussion of the National Intelligence Council’s 2012 Global Water Security report as part of the National Conversation series at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Click here to watch.

Stimson analysis led by Environmental Security Program Director David Michel has been contributed to the National Intelligence Council’s Global Water Security report, released in the spring of 2012. Click here to read.

David Michel contributes to a workshop preparing forthcoming National Research Council report on Himalayan Glaciers: Climate Change, Water Resources, and Water Security. Click here for a description of the NRC project, and click here for a summary of David Michel’s contribution.


Connecting the Drops: An Indus Basin Roadmap for Cross-Border Water Research, Data Sharing, and Policy Coordination

Connecting the Drops: An Indus Basin Roadmap for Cross-Border Water Research, Data Sharing, and Policy Coordination seeks to build mutual understanding between Indian and Pakistani decision-makers of the common water risks they confront in the Indus Basin. Drawn from the combined input of 25 leading Indian and Pakistani water experts, climate change specialists, economists, and former ambassadors, the report provides a menu of practical steps to bolster Indian and Pakistani capacities to measure, evaluate, and address increasing strains on their shared water resources. Policy recommendations and ideas for cross-border research initiatives focus on five key areas: agriculture and food security, energy and economic development, climate change and environmental pressures, glaciology, and institutions, governance, and diplomacy….. Read More>>

The Arab Spring and Climate Change

“The Arab Spring and Climate Change” does not argue that climate change caused the revolutions that have shaken the Arab world over the past two years. But the essays collected in this slim volume make a compelling case that the consequences of climate change are stressors that can ignite a volatile mix of underlying causes that erupt into revolution…. Read More>>

Water Challenges and Cooperative Response in the Middle East and North Africa

Societies across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have long balanced the competing water demands of households, industry, and agriculture. Careful management of water resources has been an absolute necessity in this region where annual renewable water supplies average about 623.8 billion cubic meters (BCM), compared to Africa’s 3,950 BCM, Asia’s 12,009 BCM, and the world total of 43,764 BCM… Read More>>

Coastal Zones and Climate Change

Coastal Zones and Climate Change examines the emerging environmental stresses on coastal areas of the Indian Ocean and the resulting challenges confronting coastal planners and decision makers in a warming world… Read More>> 

Fresh Water Futures

On January 29, 2010, the Stimson Center, under the sponsorship of the National Intelligence Council and the US State Department, organized a workshop in Washington, DC, focused on the future of global fresh water resources and the politics of water resource management… Read More>> 

Indian Climate Policy: Choices and Challenges

In order to negotiate effectively on an international regime for climate change, US policymakers must have an accurate understanding of the constraints and considerations that determine the negotiating positions of key countries. India plays a pivotal role in these efforts… Read More>>

Scientific, Intellectual, and Governance Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges in the Muslim World

Scientific, Intellectual, and Governance Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges in the Muslim World provides an overview of the challenges posed by environmental change in several regions where significant Muslim populations are found: Southeast Asia, South and Central Asia, Southwest Asia/Persian Gulf, North Africa, and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa (the Sahel, coastal West Africa, and East Africa). It then discusses the major needs for improving scientific and technical research in these regions and reviews extant environmentally-focused scientific cooperation between the U.S. and the Muslim world… Read More>>

Troubled Waters: Climate Change, Hydropolitics, and Transboundary Resources

Troubled Waters: Climate Change, Hydropolitics, and Transboundary Resources examines the multiple challenges that global climate change raises for the management of shared freshwater resources… Read More>>


Iran’s Environment: Greater Threat than Foreign Foes | October 28, 2013
By David Michel

Developing Nepal’s Hydroelectric Resources: Policy Alternatives | September 1, 2013
By Madeline Bergner

Egypt, Ethiopia Water Dispute Threatens Nations | June 26, 2013
By David Michel

The Race to Harness Himalayan Hydropower | October 4, 2012
By Russell Sticklor

Pakistan’s Energy Crisis: Beyond Hydroelectricity | July 30, 2012
By Zachary Weiss

Negotiating the Nile: The NBI Impasse and Possible Ways Forward | January 10, 2011
By Corey Sobel

Coping with Scarcity: Saudi Arabia and Water | December 9, 2010
By Adam Giansiracusa

Water and Strategy in Tibet | August 17, 2010
By Syed Iqbal Hasnain

The Deep Blue Sea: Coastal Zones and Climate Change | May 6, 2010
By David Michel

An African Union? The Shortcomings of Africa’s Strategy in Copenhagen | December 28, 2009
By Corey Sobel

India Goes to Copenhagen | December 10, 2009
By David Michel

The Endless Drought: Water Conflict in The Era of Climate Change | June 20, 2008
By Kendra Patterson

Who Owns Transnational Water? | March 5, 2008
By Kendra Patterson


Water Management and Conflict in Pakistan | July 23, 2010

Dr. Daanish Mustafa joined us for a discussion on the nexus of water management and conflict in Pakistan. Dr. Mustafa is the Senior Lecturer in Environment, Politics, and Development in the Department of Geography at King’s College, London… Read More>>

Rising Seas, Migrant Flows: Climate Change and Policy Choices in the World’s Coastal Regions | May 25, 2010

Coastal populations are on the front lines of climate change. Rising sea levels risk submerging lowlying areas and tainting the rivers and aquifers that furnish fresh water to coastal settlements… Read More>> 

Water and Peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan | August 3, 2009

Water is a critical resource for sustaining livelihoods, promoting economic development, and ensuring envrionmental quality… Read More>>

Global Warming at the Roof of the World: Climate Impacts, Water Resources and the Himalayan Glaciers | February 27, 2009

Dr. Hasnain is currently a Senior Fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi. He previously served as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calicut, Kerala… Read More>>

Cooperation or Conflict? Water Resource Challenges in Bangladesh and South Asia | September 24, 2008

Ambassador Rahman was Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Special Envoy of the Prime Minister… Read More>>


Stimson Radio: Radio H20 – Jay Famiglietti on Satellite Mapping the Earth’s Fresh Water Resources

Jay Famiglietti of the University of California Irvine’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling, on innovations in satelliite-based mapping of surface and groundwater resources, and NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiement (GRACE).

Hayfaa Almudhaf Speaks About Water Challenges in the Middle East

Hayfaa Almudhaf, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, speaks about water challenges in the Middle East.

Ngyuen Viet Dung Discusses Pollution in the Mekong

Ngyuen Viet Dung, PanNature, Vietnam, discusses pollution in the Mekong and the role of governance in protecting watersheds.

Atiq Rahman on Climate Change, Coastal Disaster Response, Water, and Governance

Atiq Rahman, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, discusses climate change, coastal disaster response, water and governance.

Edward Kimani on Fisheries Management in East Africa

Edward Kimani, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, discusses fisheries management in East Africa and the southwest Indian Ocean.

Nirmalie Pallewatta on Environmental Change, Coastal Zones, and Livelihoods

Nirmalie Pallewatta, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, takes a scientist’s perspective on environmental change, coastal zones and livelihoods.

Dia El-Quosy on Water Needs in Egypt

Dia El-Quosy, Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt, discusses water needs in Egypt and transboundary water management in the Nile River Basin.

Ramaswamy R. Iyer on Transboundary Water Management in South Asia

Ramaswamy R. Iyer, Centre for Policy Research, India, discusses transboundary water management and governance in South Asia.

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