Global water security assessment: lessons learnt and long-term implications

  • Council W
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This report—requested by the Department of State—is designed to answer the question: How will water problems (shortages, poor water quality, or floods) impact US national security interests over the next 30 years? We selected 2040 as the endpoint of our research to consider longer-term impacts from growing populations, climate change, and continued economic development. However, we sometimes cite specific time frames (e.g., 2030, 2025) when reporting is based on these dates. For the Key Judgments, we emphasize impacts that will occur within the next 10 years. We provide an introductory discussion of the global water picture, but we do not do a comprehensive analysis of the entire global water landscape. For the core classified analysis—a National Intelligence Estimate—we focused on a finite number of states that are strategically important to the United States and transboundary issues from a selected set of water basins (Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Mekong, Jordan, Indus, Brahmaputra, and Amu Darya). We judge that these examples are sufficient to illustrate the intersections between water challenges and US national security. Assumptions: We assume that water management technologies will mature along present rates and that no far-reaching improvements will develop and be deployed over the next 30 years. In addition, for several states, we assume that present water policies—pricing and investments in infrastructure—are unlikely to change significantly. Cultural norms often drive water policies and will continue to do so despite recent political upheavals. Finally, we assume that states with a large and growing economic capacity continue to make infrastructure investments and apply technologies to address their water challenges.




Council, W. W. (2012). Global water security assessment: lessons learnt and long-term implications. Intelligence.

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