This paper examines water security risk in Asia, where water challenges affect several of the world’s most populous and powerful states, and many smaller ones as well. The continent’s enormous size, its multiple geopolitical tensions, the unprecedented and urban-centric speed of growth in the world’s largest economies, and poor water governance at both the domestic and international levels mean that Asia is home to the world’s greatest water security risks.
Few security risks are becoming as serious and far-reaching as those that fall under the heading of “ecological overshoot”, i.e., the idea that humans are stretching the planet’s resources to the breaking point and even beyond. The growing scarcity of fresh water on a rapidly changing planet is an important example of this phenomenon. An insecure supply of clean water raises the dangers of economic disruption, social tension, and even conflict over water resources at both the domestic and international levels. These dangers are highest where water is scarce and governance (at the domestic or international levels) is poor.