event 30 Jul 2021

Research article //The water-energy-food nexus: A holistic approach for resource security in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey

By Mohanna Zarei. The objective of this paper is to provide an overview of water conflicts in the Middle East region specifically in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey with a focus on transboundary water resources. Also, this review aims to provide clarity and a framework for the WEF nexus approach in the specific context of transboundary water resources.

category Research Papers, Publications and Books tag Governance (of the Nexus) tag Transboundary waters tag Peace, security & conflict globe Asia globe Europe
Transboundary water resources of a Iran b Iraq and c Turkey

Transboundary water resources of (a) Iran, (b) Iraq and (c) Turkey. Source: www.internationalwatercooperation.org-2019).


  • This review provides an overview of water conflicts in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.
  • A framework for the WEF nexus in the context of transboundary waters is provided.
  • This review discusses challenges and solutions for the WEF nexus in the Middle East.


Climate change, population growth, and economic development pose critical challenges in providing water, energy, and food security at the national and global scales. The Middle East is of particular interest due to the rapid industrialization, fragile environment, non-stable political relations, and transboundary water conflicts. Transboundary water plays a crucial role in the sustainable development of Middle East countries. Among them, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey shared major transboundary river basins which induced huge potential risks and benefits associated with development. The research on Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus has seen a significant increase to productively assess water, energy, and food dependence at a higher resolution. According to these researches, drivers impacting the WEF security in the Middle East are water scarcity, migration, extreme events, economic growth, urbanization, population growth, poverty and political stability. Therefore, it is important to investigate the dynamics behind the WEF security concerns in this region. The results show that most countries in the Middle East are facing WEF resources insecurity owing to weak planning or wrong management strategies. Based on WEF Security Index reports, WEF Index for Iran, Iraq, and Turkey is 0.68, 0.65, and 0.75, respectively. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports, water, energy, and food demands increased with population growth from 1997 to 2017, which could enhance the potential of conflict over water especially on transboundary water resources. This review explores the WEF nexus as a holistic approach to seek regional solutions to common challenges in these countries. In this case, cooperation and collaboration between scientific communities, stakeholders, and decision-makers are vital to address the complexity of the resource management and development challenges regarding WEF security.


Transboundary water; Middle East; Water-Energy-Food nexus; Iran; Iraq; Turkey




Water-Energy Nexus


Zarei, M. (2020). The water-energy-food nexus: A holistic approach for resource security in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. Water-Energy Nexus, 3, 81–94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wen.2020.05.004


The water-energy-food nexus: A holistic approach for resource security in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey

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