16 November 2009 - WATER AVAILABILITY WILL BE DRIVING FORCE OF FUTURE CONFLICTS, WARNS FORMER NATO OFFICER
The scarcity of natural resources will be a significant source of conflict in the future, according to retired German general Klaus Naumann. The former chairman of NATO’s military committee explained that water, oil and gas shortages, combined with radical demographic shifts and the consequences of global warming, are drastically changing the global security landscape.
“Globally, the struggle for water will be the primary source of conflict in the future, since at present 40% of mankind gets water from extraterritorial sources” said General Naumann, speaking to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Edinburgh. He also issued a warning on the impact of demographic shifts on geopolitical power structures. The shrinking, aging European population will put “tremendous pressure” on their societies, compounded by migration trends. These trends are in turn likely to intensify, partly as a result of the effects of climate change on poorer countries. General Naumann also predicted a decline of the Russian population to “perhaps less than 100 million”, and pointed out the strategic significance of the four million illegal Chinese immigrants living and working in the resource rich parts of Siberia.
“The twenty-first century will be an unsettled century” said the general, whose presentation went on to discuss cyberwar and other emerging threats. He supported the role of NATO on the world security stage, but said that the alliance “must be refashioned in accordance with a duly expanded concept of security”, to incorporate “all the instruments of crisis management, including, above all, non-military components, and which seeks cooperation with other organisations.”
The general was previously chairman of the North Atlantic military council, which provides military input to NATO’s policies, from 1996 until his retirement in 1999.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which brings together some 350 delegates from 28 NATO member states and other partner countries, is currently holding its Annual Session in Edinburgh, Scotland.