Main page content

Hydropolitics, climate change and peace-building in the South Caucasus

In the run-up to the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on November 28th, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in an attempt to restart negotiations over the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Although the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan officially ceased over twenty years ago, current tensions between the two states serve as the main impediment to resolving various regional issues, including growing freshwater scarcity in the South Caucasus.

Pressures on water quantity and quality in the region are still moderate. However, anthropogenic and climate-induced reductions in water supply, coupled with instability within the social and economic systems, are likely to lead to a worsening of interstate relations, and could exacerbate current tensions in this volatile region.

But this reality also reveals an opportunity for conflict-resolution. Shared natural resources imply possible mutual benefits of cooperation between states. In particular, cooperation over water resources offers an opportunity for building trust.

This will not be easy. A significant lack of trust and technical know-how in the region, as well as an asymmetry in resources available for environmental protection, are main obstacles to cooperation. That is why an engaged international community, particularly the European Union (EU), will be critical.

For the complete article, please see The Center for Climate & Security.