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🔬 "The Chronology of Conflict"


Photo by Tengyart / Unsplash

Host: Travis Loop
Guest: Peter Gleick | Senior Fellow | Pacific Institute
Category: 🔬 Research | Water & Conflict

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:02] “The Pacific Institute has worked on water [since] 1987. We deal with freshwater issues worldwide, climate change, access to safe water, the human right to water, all sorts of aspects of water. But one of the things we've also been doing […] is looking at the ways that freshwater and conflict are related. […] The water conflict chronology is […] an open source database of all the history […] of what we know about water and violence. […] It goes back more than 4,000 years to the earliest water conflicts in recorded history in ancient Mesopotamia. And the bad news, of course, is that it goes up until basically literally last week.”

[3:48] “The chronology categorizes water conflicts in three different ways. We think about water as a trigger of conflict, which is […] disputes over who is allocating and managing water resources. […] The second category is water as a weapon, where water or water systems are actually used as weapons during conflicts that start for other reasons. […] And the third category is where water or water systems are casualties of conflict, targets of conflict. Again, conflicts that may start for completely other reasons, but where water systems are attacked during conflicts.”

[6:12] “Water used as a weapon or water systems used as a weapon, […] unfortunately, has a fairly long history. There are examples from the ancient times of poisoning wells of opponents as a weapon used during war. More recently, in the Middle East, in Syria and Iraq, […] on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, some of the very big dams that have been built there, were […] taken over by the Islamic State around the 2014 to 2018 era. And then that water was either released from those dams to flood downstream communities as a weapon, or was withheld from communities as a weapon.

[9:18] “Starting in around 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, […] there's a canal that flows […] from the Ukraine to Crimea that supports some of Crimea, its agricultural lands’ irrigation water. And following the Russian annexation of Crimea, Ukraine cut off that water. […] Then most recently, […] the reports are that Russia bombed that dam as part of their invasion of the Ukraine, […] to restore the flow of water to Crimea. There have also been reports of attacks on a civilian water infrastructure, pumping stations and filtration stations in the Ukraine by Russian forces. There was a report, not confirmed and so it's actually not in our chronology, that Ukraine intentionally flooded some parts of the land north of Kiev, to slow down the Russian advance on Kiev.”

[11:29] “We're still not managing water resources in a sustainable equitable fashion. […] Our failure to meet basic human needs for water for everyone on the planet, our failure to manage water […] during droughts and shortages in a sustainable, equitable fashion, those things all contribute to human misery, they contribute to problems with our economies, they contribute to disputes between neighbors about who gets access to this critical resource. […] There are […] international laws that say you want to protect civilian infrastructure and water infrastructure and you should not attack it during conflicts, but that's not enforced.

[18:48] “As we've been updating the chronology, it's pretty clear that […] there have been more of these conflicts in recent years than in the past. And part of that may be better reporting. […] But it does seem to be as populations have grown, as competition for water has grown, as our economies have grown, as challenges with shared water resources have grown, that the numbers of violent events are on the increase. And that's a worrisome pattern.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 23 min | 🗓️ 03/29/2022
✅ Time saved: 21 min

Additional Links:
Article: “Water Conflicts Continue to Worsen Worldwide” (Pacific Institute)