Water scarcity, conflict, and migration: a comparative analysis and reappraisal
How should we characterise the relations between environmental scarcity, conflict, and migration? Most academic and policy analyses conclude that scarcities of environmental resources can have significant impacts upon conflict and migration, and claim or imply that within the context of accelerating global environmental changes these impacts are likely to become more significant still. Many analyses admittedly recognise that these impacts are often indirect rather than direct and that there exist multiple ‘drivers’ of conflict and migration, of which environmental stresses are but one. We argue that even these qualifications do not go far enough, however: they still overstate the current and likely future significance of environmental changes and stresses in contributing to conflict and migration and underemphasise a far more important causal pathway-from conflict and migration to environmental vulnerabilities. These arguments are advanced via a comparative analysis of water-migration-conflict linkages in Cyprus and Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.