Vierter CLICO Policy Brief

Climate Change, Water Conflicts and Human Security in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Sahel

Findings and recommendations from the CLICO FP7 SSH research project (


Christiane Gerstetter, Katriona McGlade 2012: Climate change, water conflicts and human security in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Sahel - Findings and recommendations from the CLICO FP7 SSH research project ( Berlin: Ecologic Institute.

The final policy brief of the European Union research project "Climate Change, Hydro-conflicts and Human Security" (CLICO) presents the results of three years of research in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the Sahel (MMES). It also gives policy recommendations. The policy brief is available for download.

CLICO research supports existing insights that climate change and water-related stresses produce an impact on human security in combination with a range of social, economic and political factors. For example, several CLICO case studies on Niger, Turkey and Ethiopia confirm existing insights that social marginalization and poverty can exacerbate vulnerability to climate stresses and human insecurity.

By contrast, the link between climate change and water conflicts is, at most, indirect. For the majority of conflict situations studied in the CLICO project, political, economic and social factors were found to currently be of greater importance than water scarcity or climate-related stresses. However, it is not clear how this balance may change in the future.

States play a key role in adaptation, as they can plan and facilitate adaptation by providing the regulatory frameworks that govern adaptation actions by individuals, groups and communities. States may be more capable than individuals or communities of changing wider socio-economic conditions that lead some population groups to be particularly marginalized and thus also vulnerable to climate change. Still, state-led adaptation is not a silver bullet. One reason is that too much dependence on states can reduce the capacity of communities to adapt autonomously. In some cases, states may respond to the demands for protection by particular groups, shifting costs and risks to others.

CLICO research also shows that adaptation may have negative and counterproductive effects. One example is found in Niger, where agro-pastoralists have adapted to poor yields from unreliable rainfall by expanding croplands and seeking payment in response to crop damage by grazing animals. These self-adaptations have lessened the adaptive capacity of pastoralists in the area, who find the area of grazing lands that they have access to diminished and their expenses increased because they have to pay for crop damage by their herds.

The policy brief also provides recommendations for adaptation policy making.

The policy brief is also available for download from the website of the CLICO project and the EU Commission’s website.

Climate change has a negative impact on human security, but not on water conflicts

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Dr. Christiane Gerstetter
10 pp.
Project ID
Water conflicts, Mediterranean, human security
Middle East, North Africa, Sahel

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