The Middle East region faces a laundry list of challenges, from civil strife and poor governance to regional rivalries and economic stagnation. Exacerbating these challenges are growing threats from environmental degradation, water shortages and climate change. As temperatures and populations rise, water resources become even more limited. Climate change is expected to make some areas drier and others wetter, leading to increased displacement and migration. As precipitation extremes increase in some regions, affected communities face greater threats from floods and droughts.

To discuss these important issues, the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council hosted a panel discussion on environmental security in the region and the implications for regional stability. Peter Gleick, a world-renowned expert, innovator, and communicator on water and climate issues framed some of the most impending challenges today. Kaveh Madani, an environmental scientist, educator, and activist, and former Iranian government official, discussed Iran’s challenges in this area. Caitlin Werrell, co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security discussed the implications of climate change, water stress and natural resource mismanagement in Syria and North Africa. Barbara Slavin, Director of the Future of Iran Initiative, moderated the discussion.