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Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson


The National Intelligence Council has conducted an intelligence community-wide assessment of water risks of states strategically important to the U.S. Looking out to 2040, they identified three global drivers for water scarcity: 1) population growth; 2) economic development; and, 3) climate change. In the near term, economic development and population growth are bigger drivers than climate change. Beyond 2040, climate change may be the driver.

At a May 2012 program at the Wilson Center "Global Water Security: The Intelligence Community Assessment," it was noted that water scarcity may trigger social disruption. Moreover, it was suggested that water potentially could be used as a weapon by terrorists or by states seeking to marginalize sections of their populace.

The U.S. Department of State has identified five priorities for water security: 1) building cross-state institutional capacity; 2) increasing diplomatic efforts; 3) mobilizing financial support; 4) promoting science and technology; and, 5) building sustained partnerships.

While water scarcity issues tend to be addressed in the context of social, human rights and environmental issues, these concerns are emerging as an international intelligence risk. It was stated at the Wilson Center program that "… left unaddressed, water challenges worldwide are going to present a threat to U.S. security interests."

The 2012 Wilson Center program discussed here can be viewed online at