Climate change could increase instability in the Middle East, says “Climate Change: A New Threat to Middle East Security
,” a new report by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME). Written in preparation for this month’s UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, the report focuses on how climate change could harm the region’s already-scarce water supply. Climate change’s likely impacts on water in the Middle East include reduced precipitation and resulting water shortages; more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods; and rising sea levels.
“Climate change is likely to act as a ‘threat multiplier’—exacerbating water scarcity and tensions over water within and between nations linked by hydrological resources, geography, and shared political boundaries. Poor and vulnerable populations, which exist in significant numbers throughout the region, will likely face the greatest risk. Water shortages and rising sea levels could lead to mass migration,” says the report.
The report identifies several factors that will influence the likelihood of water- and climate-related conflict, including: the existence and sustainability of water agreements between nations; the presence of destabilizing economic and political factors such as unemployment and large-scale migration; the extent of a country’s political and economic development; the ability of a particular country, region, or institution to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change; and the political relationships between countries.