Letter from the Editor

Article excerpt

Water is the common denominator of human life. From the primordial cradle of civilization to sprawling megacities, we have built our societies around sources of water. But as pervasive an element of our biosphere as water is, limitations to freshwater resources pose divisive challenges to both international security and sustainable economic growth.

Today, commentators and activists use the vocabulary of "scarcity" and "disparity of access" to shape the discourse about water resource-related problems. The news media bristles with images of brittle lakebeds and drying basins, underscoring the urgency of pursuing concrete action in the field of water security. In this issue, we do not seek to belabor this urgency, but rather to reinvigorate productive discussion about how we--in government, the private sector, international organizations, and civil society--can build enduring socio-economic frameworks for water resource management. Through critical assessment of government policies and management decisions, the authors of our symposium discuss the merits of and challenges to international cooperation.

First, Luc Gnacadja, the Executive Secretary for the UN Committee on Desertification, illuminates global desertification trends, as well as long-range solutions for combating it. Tal Alon, a distinguished Israeli environmental activist, then analyzes the relationship between the environmental changes and the regional instability beleaguering the Middle East. In the third article of our symposium, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway addresses the effects of climate change on marine management and sustainable development in the Arctic, as well as the political and legal frameworks undergirding economic activity in the Arctic Ocean. …