Securitizing Water, Climate, and Migration in Israel, Jordan, and Syria


Protracted droughts and scarce water resources, combined with internal and cross-border migration, have contributed to the securitization of discourses around migration and water in much of the Middle East. However, there is no clear understanding of the conditions under which water, climate change, and migration are conceived of as security concerns or of their policy implications. This article explores the different means through which Israel, Jordan, and Syria have framed issues of water, climate change, and migration as national security concerns. Based upon an analysis of governmental and publicly available documents, coupled with field interviews with Israeli and Jordanian policymakers, experts, and nongovernmental organizations, we identify two different framings of the water–climate–migration nexus, depending on whether migration is largely external or internal. In Israel and Jordan, concern with influxes of external migrants elevated migration as a security issue in part through impacts on already-scarce water resources. In Syria, where severe drought in the early 2000s prompted large-scale internal migration, officials downplayed connections between scarce water resources, drought, and internal migration, part of a broader pattern of rural neglect. Unlike much of the conventional literature that has posited a linear relationship between climate change, decreasing water availability, and migration, we provide a more robust picture of the water–climate–migration nexus that shows how securitized framings take different forms and produce several unintended consequences.


Political Science

Publication Date


Journal Title

International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type