Water scarcity is already a serious problem in the Middle East, especially during periodic droughts. Climate change may exacerbate the problem, functioning as a Damocles' sword, by limiting the time available to preserve scarce water resources. Not only is water in the Middle East scarce, but it is largely sub-optimized. This means there is substantial room for mitigation measures to augment the efficiency of resource use. These measures are not limited to technology and investment, but also include governance reforms with an overarching strategy of synergy and optimization.
The potential impact of water scarcity on conflict-cooperation dynamics in the region is high, because the region's water resources are transboundary. A comprehensive regional approach is needed in order to implement an effective and sustainable solution. Furthermore, water scarcity is a potential driver of migration flows within and outside the region, which can have irreversible impacts on neighboring countries in Europe, including many NATO members. NATO should monitor the situation, especially areas where water scarcity and struggles for control of transboundary resources are potential triggers for increased tension and conflict.