Cooperation and Water Scarcity: A Case Study Analysis of Water Treaties, Mechanisms, and Adaption to True Scarcity
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Increasing water scarcity remains one of the largest geopolitical challenges in the mid-21st century. Access to clean water is the foundation of our civilization and yet, in many parts of the world, water is increasingly scarce or soon will be. Man-made climate change is hastening this transformation. This paper examines our understanding of scarcity’s impacts on states and conflict, as well as how governments might address and cooperate under true scarcity. Using a theoretical model developed by Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon and expanded upon by Colin Kahl, this paper tests whether three existing water treaties contain proper mechanisms to adapt to increasing water scarcity. It concludes with a comparative analysis and a discussion on ways to improve existing treaties and negotiate new ones as states begin to address water shortages.