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How climate change and bad water policies threaten Asia’s security and prosperity

How climate change and bad water policies threaten Asia’s security and prosperity

-Increasing water scarcity across the Indo-Pacific will exacerbate geopolitical competition and conflicts over resources while creating impediments to economic growth

-Excessive groundwater extraction is the top threat to sustainability, with China, India and Pakistan forecast to be responsible for 86 per cent of Asia’s withdrawals by 2050

The Indo-Pacific is often seen as the engine of global economic growth, given its vast human and material resources. However, climate change is setting the scene for a major transformation in the region as oceans are projected to become warmer, changing rainfall patterns induce flooding and drought in large areas, and rising seas threaten coastal ecosystems and salinisation of major agricultural areas.

This will exacerbate geopolitical competition, interstate conflicts over resources and organised crime. Challenges to security in the region will adversely affect business and investments. Water scarcity and bad management of water resources will act as a major impediment to growth.

Competition for water between industry and agriculture will intensify in the developing Indo-Pacific as agriculture comprises 80 per cent of current freshwater withdrawals. While water demand is expected to rise 55 per cent, twice the current amount of food will be needed to support growing populations. As a result, some 3.4 billion people in Asia could face water stress by 2050.
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