Environmental Security in the Middle East

March 27, 2019 - 12:00 pm

Washington DC, DC
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 will host 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 will frame some of the most impending challenges today. Kaveh Madani, an environmental scientist, educator, and activist, and former Iranian government official, will discuss Iran’s challenges in this area. Caitlin Werrell, co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security will discuss 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, will moderate the discussion. The event is open to press and on the record.

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Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 
Washington, DC

This event is open to press and on the record. 

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A conversation with:
Peter Gleick
President Emeritus 
Pacific Institute
Kaveh Madani
Rice Senior Fellow, MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies
Yale University

Caitlin Werrell
Chief Executive Officer
Council on Strategic Risks

Moderated by:
Barbara Slavin
Director, Future of Iran Initiative
Atlantic Council


Peter Gleick is a world-renowned expert, innovator, and communicator on water and climate issues. In 1987 he co-founded the Pacific Institute, which he led as president until mid-2016, when he became president emeritus. Peter developed one of the first analyses of climate change impacts on water resources, the earliest comprehensive work on water and conflict, and defined basic human need and right to water – work that has been used by the United Nations and in human rights court cases. Also, he pioneered and advanced the concepts of the “soft path for water” and “peak water.” He received the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences. He serves on the boards of numerous journals and organizations, and is the author or co-author of many scientific papers and 11 books. Dr. Gleick holds a bachelors from Yale University and an masters and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Kaveh Madani is an environmental scientist, educator, and activist, working on complex human-natural systems at the interface of science, policy, and society. He has previously served as the deputy vice president of Iran in his position as the deputy head of Iran’s Department of Environment. He has also served as the vice president of the United Nations Environment Assembly Bureau and chief of Iran’s Department of Environment’s International Affairs and Conventions Center. He held different strategic roles during his public service and led Iran’s delegation in different major intergovernmental/diplomatic meetings and negotiations. He is currently a Henry Hart Rice senior fellow at Yale University and a visiting professor at Imperial College London. He has numerous publications on issues such as water management, environmental policy, energy systems, food security, climate change impacts/adaptation, sustainable development, and transboundary-conflicts and negotiations in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Middle East. He has received several awards for his fundamental research contributions, teaching innovations, as well as outreach and humanitarian activities, including New Face of Civil Engineering (2012), Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Young Scientists (2016), and the Walter Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize (2017).

Caitlin Werrell is chief executive officer of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR), and co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security. She oversees all of CSR’s efforts, including the Center for Climate and Security, the Center on Strategic Weapons and the Bridge Program. She has published extensively on the security implications of climate change, water stress and natural resource mismanagement in Syria and North Africa, including in the seminal report The Arab Spring and Climate Change, the SAIS Review of International Affairs, and the Brown Journal of World Affairs, as well as on the potential for new technologies like additive manufacturing for addressing climate risks. Caitlin is a regular commentator on climate and international security issues, is a lead author of the “Responsibility to Prepare” framework, and has appeared before the UN Security Council. She is frequently-cited and interviewed issues in both mainstream and niche media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, the New Republic, the National Journal, the Atlantic, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and Defense News, among others. Caitlin holds a master’s degree from the University of Oxford, where she focused on transboundary water conflict and security, and a BA from Mount Holyoke College. She sits on the advisory board of the Nuclear Security Working Group.

Barbara Slavin directs the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council and a columnist for Al-Monitor.com, a website devoted to news from and about the Middle East. The author of Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US and the Twisted Path to Confrontation (2007), she is a regular commentator on US foreign policy and Iran on NPR, PBS, and C-SPAN.A career journalist, Slavin previously served as assistant managing editor for world and national security of the Washington Times, senior diplomatic reporter for USA TODAY, Cairo correspondent for the Economist, and as an editor at the New York Times Week in Review. She has covered such key foreign policy issues as the US-led war on terrorism, policy toward "rogue" states, the Iran-Iraq war, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. She has traveled to Iran nine times. Slavin also served as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where she wrote Bitter Friends, and as a senior fellow at the US Institute of Peace, where she researched and wrote the report Mullahs, Money and Militias: How Iran Exerts Its Influence in the Middle East.