Water crises – water opportunities promoting water cooperation in the Middle East

Houdret, Annabelle / Tobias von Lossow
External Publications (2023)

Den Haag/Bonn: Clingendael/German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)

Climate change exacerbates the pronounced water scarcity in the Middle East and also acts as a threat multiplier, for instance in the areas of health, food security and livelihoods. Increasing competition over water and the failure to address related challenges intensify tensions and conflicts within and between countries. Water cooperation is necessary to address the enormous challenges in the region, but traditional intergovernmental water agreements are politically complex and, in many cases, not very promising. This study presents an alternative approach to boost inter-state water cooperation in the region. Looking into five prominent water-related action areas at national and local levels uncovers entry points for inter-state cooperation. These action areas are: (1) the water-energy-food-ecosystems (WEFE) nexus; (2) water-related ecosystems; (3) water knowledge through data collection, citizen science, awareness raising and social science expertise; (4) water-related disaster risk management at transboundary level; and (5) water cooperation in the context of displacement, migration and reconstruction. These action areas allow water cooperation to be reimagined and pursued via thematic entry points of both national and regional interests. This places emphasis on individual and shared benefits for the countries from measures implemented in a multi-level approach: at local level (sometimes in border regions), at national level (not least in dialogue with other states in the region) and at regional level.

About the author

Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist


Further experts

Baydag, Melis

Political Science 

Bergmann, Julian

Political Science 

Dang, Vy

Political Science 

Dombrowsky, Ines


Erforth, Benedikt

Political Science 

Friesen, Ina

Political Science 

Furness, Mark

Political Science 

Grimm, Sven

Political Science 

Hackenesch, Christine

Political Science 

Hornidge, Anna-Katharina

Development and Knowledge Sociology 

Keijzer, Niels

Social Science 

Koch, Svea

Social Science 

Löpelt, Sarah

International relations and Sustainability policy 

Schoderer, Mirja

Environmental Research 

Schüpf, Dennis


von Haaren, Paula

Development Economics