Climatic Change

, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 69–82 | Cite as

Hydro-climatic change, conflict and security

  • Giorgos Kallis
  • Christos ZografosEmail author


Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of water-related hazards on human populations. This has generated security concerns and calls for urgent policy action. However, the simplified narrative that links climate change to security via water and violent conflict is wanting. First, it is not confirmed by empirical evidence. Second, it ignores the varied character and implications of hydro-climatic hazards, the multi-faceted nature of conflict and adaptive action, and crucial intricacies of security. Integrating for the first time research and findings from diverse disciplines, we provide a more nuanced picture of the climate-water-security nexus. We consider findings from the transboundary waters, armed conflict, vulnerability, and political ecology literatures and specify the implications and priorities for policy relevant research. Although the social effects of future hydro-climatic change cannot be safely predicted, there is a good understanding of the factors that aggravate risks to social wellbeing. To reduce vulnerability, pertinent democratic and social/civil security institutions should be strengthened where they exist, and promoted where they are still absent.


Water Scarcity Armed Conflict Human Security Violent Conflict Transboundary Water 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Research for this article has benefited from the EC-funded FP7 SSH research project CLICO - Climate Change, Hydro-conflict and Human Security (contract number: 244443) and with conversations and exchange of ideas with project partners. We thank Naho Mirumachi for her constructive comments to a previous draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICREA, Department of Geography and Institute of Environmental Science & Technology (ICTA)Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental Science & Technology (ICTA)Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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