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Increasing water security challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean,

Increasing water security challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean,

A Broader Outlook

Dursun Yıldız C.E

Expert on Hydropolitics (Msc.)

Director of Hydropolitics Academy Center

23 December 2022

 

                                                                      Abstract

Water resources are unevenly distributed in the Mediterranean region and physical shortage of water is mainly seen in the Southern and eastern Mediterranean countries. Scarcity and variability of freshwater resources; rapidly growing population; poor water management and allocation practices; and burgeoning uncertainties coupled with climate change and political change are the main factors linked with water crises in the eastern Mediterranean region.

The shortage of water in the region has been affected by the impact of climate change through increasing temperatures and decreases in precipitation. Recent severe droughts in the region indicate that such events could become more frequent and intense. This could threaten water availability, and food security, and may cause instability in the region. The transboundary water resources shared among the countries of the region constitute the majority of the water resources and created severe political tensions in the past.

In the eastern Mediterranean, water disputes were influenced, by multifaceted interstate conflicts involving other disputes over security, borders, and other issues. Water has been highly securitized in the region. Achieving water security in the eastern Mediterranean region is an enormous challenge. The solution lies in closer cooperation between regional partners.

The broader area of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean has undergone significant geopolitical changes throughout the last decade. The developments taking place within both the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean have become increasingly interconnected. The Eastern Mediterranean is also the coast of the Arabian peninsula of the Middle East. The eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East are in an interrelated changing regional system. This has already changed the security architecture and increased uncertainties in the eastern Mediterranean. Therefore,  strategic projections for this region should take into account the local, regional, and global developments, many regional variables, and the possibility of their rapid change.

Water security challenges in the eastern Mediterranean are also highly interlinked with climate change, energy security, and the new political situation in the region. It is clear that effective and sustainable solutions to the major water security challenges in the eastern Mediterranean will require a broader outlook,  greater understanding, and consideration of the linkages and inter-dependencies between the eastern  Mediterranean and the recent Arabian peninsula’s .political developments.

The task of developing new regional cooperation on climate change adaptation and water-food-energy security challenges in this increasingly polarized environment is becoming more and more urgent, and at the same time more complicated.But sooner or later, the countries in the eastern Mediterranean will realize that regional prosperity, water-energy security, and a peaceful future need a pragmatic model for regional cooperation gathering all the countries including Turkey.  It will be difficult, but not impossible, as long as there is political will on all sides.

This study provides a broader overview of the key water security challenges the Eastern Mediterranean region faces in regard to climate change and changing regional systems and proposes some recommendations for a possible way forward.

 

This abstract was presented at the 3rd International Conference on Cyprus Issue: Environmental Challenges and Security, ECES 2022” hold online on 21-23 December 2022.

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