Water and the Future of the Middle East

Provoking a paradigm shift in how international actors think about water security in the region.

Water security has shaped the trajectory of the Middle East’s social, political, and economic conditions for millennia. As water tables drop and countries lose resilience to droughts and floods, water will play an even more important role in shaping the region’s future. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region hosts 12 of the 17 most-water-stressed countries in the world. Natural scarcity, decades of mismanagement, and accelerating climate change are combining now to place unprecedented pressure on populations and their governments. Population growth, conflict, and displacement have sharply raised the consequences of resource mismanagement. 

The CSIS Middle East program will seek to energize the policy environment—including Middle Eastern governments, civil society, aid agencies, and regional and global financial institutions—around more effective solutions. It will do so both by highlighting the rising salience of water insecurity in the Middle East and exploring constructive, practical, and actionable responses to the challenge. We also will deepen understanding of how water acts as a driver of conflict and instability or reconciliation in the Middle East, both within states and between states. By focusing on specific areas of concern, CSIS will be able to evaluate the second- and third-order effects of water insecurity and develop concrete recommendations for positive and necessary transformation.

This project is part of the Middle East Transformation Initiative, which is supported by Bahaa Rafic Hariri.

Advisory Board Members

Advisory board members of the Water and the Future of the Middle East project as part of the Middle East Transformation Initiative

Photo: CSIS