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Research in Progress Seminar (RIPS)

Dr. Jenny Kehl, Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Research Chair in Policy and Governance, February 6 - Water Scarcity as a Threat Multiplier

Feb 01, 2019

A Research in Progress Seminar Talk 2019

Who: Dr. Jenny Kehl
Where: Kenneth Taylor Hall (KTH) 709
When: Wednesday, February 13, 2:30pm - 4pm

Abstract: 
The need to procure and protect vital water resources has a profound impact on international politics, economics, and security.  From the water wars of the Middle East to the food insecurity triggers of the Arab Spring, to the role of water scarcity in the radicalization of drought-stricken regions of Syria and Iraq, to the volatile conflicts over dwindling water recourses in India and China, to the increasing tensions along 120 international borders marked by rivers that are running dry, water security is becoming an urgent issue. Yet strategies for resolving critical water disputes are underdeveloped. Water scarcity has acted as a threat multiplier by exacerbating political instability, increasing economic volatility, and radicalizing groups around issues of drought, food insecurity, inequitable access to water resources, disproportionate effects of climate variability, and mass migration due to extreme droughts or floods and other environmental stressors. This research will identify, quantify and analyze the triggers and thresholds for water scarcity that exacerbate existing violent conflicts. The results will identify specific strategies that are effective in altering the cost-benefit analysis of pursuing cooperation versus conflict, in the interest of achieving negotiated settlements for water conflicts and reducing water scarcity as a threat multiplier.

Jenny Kehl is Global Water Security Scholar for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research and teaching specializations are water security, international political economy, and sustainable development. She is currently working on projects concerning water scarcity as a threat multiplier, global water change and international security, water justice and environmental equity, connecting local with global water issues, and decision-making in the context of political uncertainty and climate variability.