Webinar: Water Scarcity and Migration

Water Science Policy has jump-started its webinar series with the Water Scarcity and Migration session. Over 50 participants have gathered to discuss the importance of sectoral interconnections to address the fundamental effects of water scarcity on social stability, livelihoods, and sustainable development. According to the UN report on SDG 6 (2018), 844 million people still lack even basic water service, and over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress. Case studies from Maharashtra, India, and Kyrgyzstan illustrated how crucial the engagement of the local community is and how closely water scarcity is linked to other factors, such as political (in)stability, institutional capacity, economic challenges and livelihood opportunities. 

Key points from the session:

  • Water scarcity is one of many complex and interdependent challenges amplified by, or directly resulting from global climate change. Continuous dialogue for the development of effective and equitable strategic actions to mitigate underlying water scarcity must be on top of the international development agenda.
  • Forced migration is a well-documented response mechanism to scarce resources in the context of a changing climate change and it can have many different forms, which is why it is important to understand the different inequalities and vulnerabilities that trigger the respective migration.
  • The case of Maharashtra showed that the investment in hydraulic infrastructures does not always have benefits to the local community. A lack of understanding of the socio-ecological dynamics can result in inefficient or even hazardous policies leading to a vicious cycle of poverty and water resource depletion.
  • Water pollution can mean (clean) water scarcity. An inspiring case study from Kyrgyzstan, one of the most underreported geographies in the world, showed an often-overlooked set of problems that many societies face and that particularly impact communities in low and middle-income countries.
  • Knowledge, governance, and cooperation are three pillars to catalyze more effective and collaborative investments to develop inclusive strategies aimed at mitigation of water scarcity to meet the nexus needs of water, food and energy.

View the complete recording of the session right here or navigate to youtube to see the different presentations on



Michela Miletto – UNESCO World Water Assessment Program – Deputy Coordinator

Sara Walker – World Resources Institute – Senior Manager, Water Quality and Agriculture

Sushmita Mandal – Independent Researcher

Kyle Heitmann – UN Major Group for Children and Youth – Human Rights Lawyer

Troy Sternberg – University of Oxford – Senior Researcher

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