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Improving Management of Global Water Resources Can Bolster US Security and Prosperity

New WWF book highlights how US leadership can foster solutions to global water issues

The link between water and security is undeniable. Where fresh water is available, accessible and well-managed, biodiversity can be sustained, economies can grow and communities can thrive. Yet when fresh water is compromised, life as we know it breaks down and can lead to social disruptions and conflict that further degrade the environment. Failure to address these issues puts people, nature and US national security and prosperity at risk, according to the new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) book Water, Security and U.S. Foreign Policy.  

Edited by WWF Senior Policy Advisor David Reed, the book presents policymakers with a framework for identifying how water-related social and economic disruptions in partner countries can affect US national security. Through a series of 17 case studies by leading international experts, the book examines how ecological change can lead to regional instability, migration, social and economic conflict and the rise of insurgencies.

“Water affects everything, from the food we eat, to the cotton we wear, to the energy we depend on,” said Reed. “If it is not managed sustainably, not just in our country but in other countries around the world, our prosperity and national security will be put at risk. It’s urgent that governments and businesses alike make sustainable water management a top priority.”

In the book’s opening chapter, Reed argues that the convergence of population growth, economic expansion, outdated laws and now climate change is overwhelming the ability of many countries to respond, creating, in the process, national and regional instability. Without a more robust, comprehensive response from the US, our own prosperity and national security will be increasingly at risk.

 “The United States has a most awesome arsenal of technical skills, water monitoring and management capacity, construction expertise and training facilities than any country in the world. It is imperative that our government harness and focus those assets to respond to the water challenges facing other countries and, in the process, protect our national security and economic wellbeing.”

Water, Security and US Foreign Policy is available June 27 in bookstores and at with proceeds supporting WWF’s global conservation work.