Securitizing Water, Climate, and Migration in Israel, Jordan, and Syria

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10784-015-9279-4

Cite this article as:
Weinthal, E., Zawahri, N. & Sowers, J. Int Environ Agreements (2015) 15: 293. doi:10.1007/s10784-015-9279-4


Protracted droughts and scarce water resources, combined with internal and cross-border migration, have contributed to the securitization of discourses around migration and water in much of the Middle East. However, there is no clear understanding of the conditions under which water, climate change, and migration are conceived of as security concerns or of their policy implications. This article explores the different means through which Israel, Jordan, and Syria have framed issues of water, climate change, and migration as national security concerns. Based upon an analysis of governmental and publicly available documents, coupled with field interviews with Israeli and Jordanian policymakers, experts, and nongovernmental organizations, we identify two different framings of the water–climate–migration nexus, depending on whether migration is largely external or internal. In Israel and Jordan, concern with influxes of external migrants elevated migration as a security issue in part through impacts on already-scarce water resources. In Syria, where severe drought in the early 2000s prompted large-scale internal migration, officials downplayed connections between scarce water resources, drought, and internal migration, part of a broader pattern of rural neglect. Unlike much of the conventional literature that has posited a linear relationship between climate change, decreasing water availability, and migration, we provide a more robust picture of the water–climate–migration nexus that shows how securitized framings take different forms and produce several unintended consequences.


Securitization Refugees Water Climate change Migration 



Global mean surface temperature


Israel Climate Change Information Centre


Nongovernmental organization


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


United Nations Environment Programme


United Nations HIgh Commissioner on Refugees


United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East


United States of America

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceCleveland State UniversityClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations