BERLIN – Tensions over water are rising in Asia – and not only because of conflicting maritime claims. While territorial disputes, such as in the South China Sea, attract the most attention – after all, they threaten the safety of sea lanes and freedom of navigation, which affects outside powers as well – the strategic ramifications of competition over transnationally shared freshwater resources are just as ominous.
Asia has less fresh water per capita than any other continent, and it is already facing a water crisis that, according to an MIT study, will continue to intensify, with severe water shortages expected by 2050. At a time of widespread geopolitical discord, competition over freshwater resources could emerge as a serious threat to long-term peace and stability in Asia.[Source]