Beyond water security: asecuritisation and identity in Cyprus

Original Paper


Forty years after the division of Cyprus, the unstable political agenda still prevents a meaningful bi-communal discourse on the joint management of natural resources, especially water, a vital resource for all islanders. Until now, both communities have deployed unilateral, tactical methods to securitise the water discourse by linking it to high politics; yet, the situation remains deadlocked. Processes by which the water discourse in Cyprus acquired multiple meanings of securitisation over time and across different groups remains understudied, as does the concept of asecurity. We suggest moving water management in Cyprus into an asecuritisation realm, where decision-making processes are founded on a shared social identity with water acting as a unifying agent. Based on empirical findings from multiple methods employed dealing with social dilemmas involving scarce natural resources, we conclude that an alternative way of organizing political space with no a priori reference to the securitisation logic would create new opportunities for transforming the discourse beyond the political lock-in and incorporating bi-communal dynamics into natural resource management, laying the groundwork for future cooperation on other emblematic issues.


Cyprus Water scarcity Water securitisation Asecuritisation Identity 



British bases


Common pool resources


North Cyprus


Republic of Cyprus


United Nations Buffer Zone



We would like to acknowledge the support of the EU projects ENTITLE (European Network of Political Ecology) and GoverNat (Multi-level Governance of Natural Resources: Tools and Processes for Water and Biodiversity Governance in Europe), PRIO (The Peace Research Institute–Cyprus Center) and AGAUR (The Catalan Agency for the Management and Support of University Research under the International Catalan Institute for Peace) for their funding during the research; the people of Alakoy, Bellapais and Panagia for their enthusiasm and participation, Ayşe Salkım, Sertaç Sonan, Gönül Şorman, Petros and Androulla Papasozomenou for the local support. Finally we would like to thank our project team: Felix Rauschmayer, Mario Giampietro, Zora Kovacic, Ana Catarina Luz, Cristina Madrid-López, Jaime Paneque-Gálvez and Ourania Papasozomenou.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dimitrios Zikos
    • 1
  • Alevgul H. Sorman
    • 2
  • Marisa Lau
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Resource Economics, Institute of Agricultural EconomicsHumboldt University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA)Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Science and Technology in Archaeology Research CenterThe Cyprus InstituteNicosiaCyprus

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