Water and US National Security

This paper links water and security at national and regional levels, takes stock of ongoing efforts and the impacts of climate change. It states that while conflict between and within countries is not inevitable, disputes among users of water will become more severe in a world of increased demand and diminished or variable supply. Domestic institutions that can effectively manage, allocate, and price water will be critical for efficient and fair water security within countries. Institutions that can effectively perform similar functions and resolve disputes internationally will be essential for transboundary waters. Situational awareness of emergent risks and hotspots for water stress is foundational for building sound institutions.


The paper, calling for a “do no harm” approach, stresses on the US role in this sector, given its capabilities in water monitoring and river basin assessments as well as its significant investments in extending water access, improving sanitation, and assuring food security. The paper underlines that success will require enhancing the capacity for and priority of the water security agenda inside the U.S. government.


The paper recommends increased priority of water and security, enhanced support to data collection, analysis and early warning systems, increased investment in institution building and strengthened support to public private partnerships.

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