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Quote of the Month

"The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we don’t act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration and conflict and hunger around the globe.” - Barack Obama, U.S. President, State of the Union Address, Washington D.C., 20 January 2015.
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Global warming raises tensions in Boko Haram region

Climate change makes Lake Chad fertile territory for extremism, experts say after Boko Haram massacre of up to 2,000 people. As more evidence of destruction wrought by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria emerged on Thursday, experts highlighted the role of climate change in fomenting extremism. Satellite images obtained by Amnesty International showed 3,700 buildings had been destroyed...
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Farmers, Drought and Gas Development in Australia

The impact on farmers of drought exacerbated by climate change can be mitigated by aspects of certain forms of resource extraction. However, the Australian experience suggests that such measures involve trade-offs. These trade-offs illustrate how our energy choices are becoming increasingly complex...
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ECC Newsletter Edition 3/2014

We have published the third Edition of the Environment, Conflict, and Cooperation Newsletter in 2014. It features e.g. an article by Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, about how his country approaches climate diplomacy on the way towards ambitious climate action. We also take a closer look at local governance and climate resilience with perspectives from Latin America and from Southeast Asia...
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Water Intro

water hands 297x198The availability of freshwater resources in sufficient quantity and quality is essential for the preservation of human health and sound ecosystems. The use of water resources is also vital, however, for economic development: whether for agriculture, industrial production, or for electricity generation. The world's freshwater resources are distributed very unevenly in terms of geography and the seasons. In addition, water shortage is becoming more prevalent in several regions due to population growth, economic development, urbanization, and increasing environmental pollution. Thus, water resources can hold potential for conflicts between parties who have different interests and needs.

Conflicts surrounding the distribution, access and quality of water resources often arise between upstream and downstream riparians on waterways, since water usages upstream can affect the quantity and quality of the resource downstream. Bodies of water frequently flow across borders and can, therefore, also become the subject of international disputes.

Furthermore, conflicts can also develop between water users and the authorities responsible for water management. Water-related disputes take on different forms, such as civil disobedience, acts of sabotage or violent conflicts. However, the latter are more likely to be seen at the local and intrastate level than at the interstate level.

Even though it remains to be seen whether wars over water will actually develop, interstate water conflicts have nonetheless already contributed to tensions that, in several cases, significantly constrain the economic development of the region. In addition, interstate water conflicts can, in their own right, encumber the stability of the country and have negative consequences for international relations.

At the same time, various examples also demonstrate that precisely this need for joint management of water resources gathers conflicting parties around one table and encourages cooperative negotiating. Even if a tedious negotiation process often precedes cooperation in water management, water cooperation has in the past provided a fertile starting point for peace promotion, and has led to the development of stable institutions.