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EghtesadOnline: From the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Turkey where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are fed to the desert Wadis on both sides of the Nile, the history of water conflicts provides a cautionary note.

Because water and politics are on the same page, talks to share water often fail to deliver opening the way to conflict. Water then becomes an issue of human and national concern -- a bitter and repetitive reality on the global scene, especially in highly water deficit parts of the world.

Qassem Taqizadeh Khamesi, director of the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran (Abfa) told news outlets that water security and political security are intertwined and so long as the former is absent, the latter cannot be ensured, according to Financial Tribune.

The Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad quoted Khamesi as saying that water security is a “multidimensional issue including parameters like topography, geography, demography, consumption patterns and political systems.”

Water security is defined as the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate volumes of quality water for sustaining livelihoods, ensuring protection against water-borne pollution in a climate of peace and political stability. 

Based on the definition, he concluded that of the factors (infrastructural, institutional, political, social and financial) which contribute to water security, some (such as politics) lie outside the water realm. 

“Moreover, the (water security) concern relates to a wide spectrum in our society (farmers, industries and households), and that is why it cannot be addressed by the Energy Ministry alone. Likewise, food security cannot be ensured only by Agriculture Ministry.”

He believes that convening water dialogue among key stakeholders at the national and/or sub-national levels is crucial to diffuse tensions and pave the way for solutions, especially when it comes to trans-border rivers and shared resources.


Sustainable Development

Referring to other strategies to secure (depleting) water resources for future generations, he noted that promoting sustainable development (balance between available resources and consumption) can help fulfill the goal.

“On the other hand, wrong policies (increasing water supply to arid regions through costly and long-distance diversion schemes) will not only destroy the environment but also jeopardize water security.”

Striving to create a sustainable and peaceful future for water should be a priority, he said. “We must take this resource out of the realm of conflict and place it into the world of cooperation.”

The late UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said: "The world's water resources are our lifeline for survival and sustainable development. Together, we must manage them better and ensure their sustainable use for generations to come."

Water security can be achieved if it is supported by integrated policies across sectors and managing water demand by all users and stakeholders. 

Water experts, including Khamesi, contend that a wide range of water-related risks undermine human well-being and can add to political instability,  conflicts, mass human displacement and migration and acute food insecurity, which in turn can undermine national, regional and global security.

While water risks have threatened human civilizations over millennia, but today’s population explosion and economic expansion — together with threats from climate change — have created a new urgency around an old problem and not addressing the worsening crisis will inflict more harm.

Water scarcity already affects every continent. 

While the world's population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. Within the next 50 years, the world population will increase by another 40 to 50 %.  

This population growth - coupled with industrialization and rapid urbanization - will give rise to increasing demand for water and will have serious consequences on the environment.


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