What is the evidence that scarcity and shocks in freshwater resources cause conflict instead of promoting collaboration?
This is a systematic review which examines published and unpublished research on this question
Anthropogenic activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels, land-use change and intensive agriculture are increasingly influencing the climate of the Earth and exerting pressure on ecosystems. These changes have amplified the risk of scarcity and shocks (discrete and sudden events) in natural renewable resource (henceforth, NRR) scarcity across the spectrum of spatial scales.
The interplay between freshwater scarcity and conflict/collaboration is the most prominent and referenced of the environment-conflict issues in the Third and Fourth Assessment Reports of the IPCC. Discussions with the review user-group, confirmed that a systematic mapping of the literature in this particular field was a priority.
The key objective of the study was to identify and systematically map all published and unpublished research to address the following primary question: What is the evidence that scarcity and shocks in freshwater resources cause conflict instead of promoting collaboration?
Chapter 1 is an introduction outlining the aims and rationale, and presenting the conceptual framework for the review. Chapter 2 presents the objectives of the review. In Chapter 3, the systematic review protocol is presented, while Chapter 4 describes results from the search and inclusion strategy and presents the systematic map. Chapter 5 discusses the review and its limitations, and Chapter 6 concludes the report.
From a set of 589 studies identified after the first round of screening, just 47 relevant studies were identified. Of the 47 studies, 19 explored interstate interactions. Just one examined interstate conflict in relation to freshwater scarcity, while the remaining 18 were specifically related to transboundary river basins. At the intrastate level, 15 studies examined the relationship at the national level, while the remaining 13 explored interactions at the sub-national level.
There is a protocol for this systematic review
CEE review 10-010, Collaboration for Environmental Evidence, Bangor, UK, 180 pp.