Desalination and transboundary water governance in conflict settings

Maureen Walschot, David Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Desalination can reduce both water scarcity and variability in supplies, two factors identified as drivers of transboundary water conflict. As such, some have predicted that increasing development of desalination capacity may reduce conflict over shared waters. Others have claimed that desalination may become a source of new conflicts. Additionally, desalination may open up new avenues for cooperation, but also may allow for unilateral action by parties, thereby decreasing cooperation. This study looks at the impact of the introduction of desalination on hydro-political relations in two protracted conflict settings: the island of Cyprus and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Using both quantitative and qualitative assessments, we find that desalination has fundamentally altered hydro-political relations, but find no consistent trends in terms of levels of conflict and cooperation. These findings suggest that the influence of desalination on hydro-political relations is likely to be a function of, rather than a transformer of, the larger geopolitical context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120509
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Early online date8 Mar 2024
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Ltd


  • Conflict
  • Cooperation
  • Desalination
  • Desecuritization
  • Transboundary
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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