Stimson in the News

David Michel is quoted in UNRIC on crises generated by water scarcity

in Program

More valuable than oil, diamonds or gold

Over 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. That means that 1 person in 7 of the global population cannot quench their thirst. Even more have an unstable or scarce access to water, and one fifth of the world’s population face concrete water scarcity.

Oil powers our cars, diamonds adorn our jewels and gold has always been coveted – but none is a fundamental need. The scarcity of water today, and its necessity, has given it a new name: Blue Gold. And, like diamonds and oil, water already has played a role in several conflicts.For example, Blue Gold is a factor impeding the settlement of disputes between India and Pakistan. A 2012 report found that, “With India constructing several dams in the Indus River Basin, the Pakistani military and jihadi groups now identify water disputes as a core issue”.

Water is unique because of its indispensability; everyone understands that no water simply means no life.

However, one crucial difference remains between water and its other, conflict-prone counterparts: “Water – as opposed to other conflict resources such as diamonds – is not lootable, meaning it’s not a resource you can pick up and walk away with,” explained David Michel, director of the environmental security programme at The Stimson Centre, pointing out that a cubic metre of water weighs a ton.

To read the full story, click here.

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