More than any other region, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is plagued by instability and conflict. Conflict has traditionally been caused by political, military, ethnic and religious issues, but, in an increasingly complex world, potential causes of insecurity have widened and diversified considerably. Though traditional sources of conflict continue to play a major role, economic, social and environmental issues increasingly contribute to both causing and fuelling it.
Global warming combined with massive population growth has led to increasing pressure making access to resources more important than ever – and no resource is more important than water. Climate change has had a significant impact on freshwater availability, resulting in a global freshwater crisis whose effects are more acute in arid and semi-arid regions like the MENA. Already an unstable region, access to shared water resources will increasingly become an additional source of tension. Whether cooperation or conflict characterizes how the region deals with this issue, it is likely to have ever more implications as the effects of climate change become increasingly severe.