The Middle East Is Ripe for Climate Change Diplomacy

The Middle East Is Ripe for Climate Change Diplomacy
A woman and a boy walk on the dried-up riverbed of the Zayandeh Roud river, in Isfahan, Iran, July 10, 2018 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

The recent agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to reestablish diplomatic ties and reopen their respective embassies has raised both hope and alarm among Western observers of the Middle East. Hope, because reduced animosity between the two rivals could help ease sectarian tensions and lead to a resolution of the Middle East’s most pressing security challenges. Alarm, because the agreement, which was mediated by China and announced last month at a signing ceremony in Beijing, was seen as having provided a boost to China’s diplomatic influence in a region long regarded as a U.S. sphere of influence.

Because of their clear alignment with Riyadh and Iran’s other adversaries, the U.S. and Europe are poorly positioned compared to China to engage in similar diplomacy to bridge the region’s security divides. But there is one field in which they could participate in a diplomatic initiative that would both reassert their relevance and address a key issue that is in desperate need of attention: the threat of climate change to the Middle East.

The Middle East and North Africa region is particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming, especially as it pertains to water supply. While it is home to 6 percent of the world’s population, it contains only 2 percent of the world’s renewable fresh water. Water scarcity in the Arabian peninsula has been a sobering reality for some time, with some countries better equipped to manage it than others. Countries like Syria, Iran and Iraq are now experiencing significant increases in aridification that is disrupting living conditions and threatening economies. 

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.