CIS Project on Water Conflict and Cooperation


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About the Authors


Thomas Bernauer is a professor of political science at ETH Zurich. He and his research group are based at the Center for Comparative and International Studies, a joint institution of ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, and at ETH Zurich’s Institute for Environmental Decisions. Thomas Bernauer obtained his PhD from the University of Zurich in 1992. In 1988-92 he was a researcher at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva, in 1992-94 a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, and in 1994-95 a senior lecturer at the University of Zurich. In 1995 he was appointed assistant professor at ETH Zurich, in 1999 associate professor, and 2004 full professor. In 2004-2006 Thomas Bernauer was dean of ETH Zurich’s department of social sciences and humanities, and in 2005-2009 director of the Center for Comparative and International Studies. Since 2004 he is a member of the Swiss National Science Foundation’s research council.


Theresa Tribaldos joined the International Political Economy group as a PhD Student in March 2010. Her doctoral thesis examines the relationships between water scarcity and conflict. Her dissertation topic is part of the EU project “Climate Change, Hydro-conflicts and Human Security” (CLICO). Theresa Tribaldos holds an MSc in Geography with a focus on Physical Geography from the University of Zurich and an MA in Geopolticis, Territory and Security from King’s College London.


Tobias Böhmelt is a postdoctoral researcher in the “International Political Economy” group at the Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS) and the Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED). His main research interests are environmental politics, international mediation, military effectiveness, and social network analysis.

Researches in the International and Comparative Political Economy group of Prof. Dr. Thomas Bernauer as well as scholars from the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) are currently in the process of creating a unique data set of cooperative and conflictive events related to water. These data will cover all riparian countries of the Mediterranean as well as states in the Middle East and the Sahel between 1997 and 2009. The project is funded by the EU within a broader research agenda on "Climate Change, Hydro-conflicts and Human Security" (CLICO).

By regressing political, economic and climatic factors on the collected data, Thomas Bernauer and his colleagues will identify the driving forces that lead to cooperation and conflict on water across the region. The gained knowledge on these factors that are generic to many countries complements the more region-specific insights on water conflict and cooperation structures, which are generated by the in-depth case studies as part of the overall CLICO framework.

Also, this large-N study enables both scientists and policy makers to identify atypical cases, e.g. countries that face severe water stress but rather show a low level of conflict. Once identified, some of these “outliers” will be investigated in greater detail. Another objective of the statistical analysis of socio-economic and political variables is to assess how secure and resilient both economic and political systems are to climate-induced water stress. Inter alia, income level and distribution, characteristics and quality of political systems, environmental conditions and ethnic diversity are likely to be explanatory factors that will be considered in the assessment.


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