Basins at Risk – Predicting International River Basin Conflict and Cooperation

40 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2013

Date Written: December 10, 2013


Growing demands for water combined with supply constraints may lead to an increased potential for international water conflicts, because many of the world’s freshwater systems cut across national boundaries. Which international river basins are likely to experience greater conflict risks or, conversely, more cooperation? What are the factors that increase or decrease conflict risk (cooperation)? We use prediction and forecasting approaches to address these questions and compare the results with findings of an earlier "basins at risk" study. Whereas the earlier study identified twenty-nine basins at risk, our study identifies forty-four such river basins. It also arrives at different findings with respect to key determinants of river basin conflict and cooperation. The proposed analytical approach can help to increase the robustness of explanatory models, also in other areas of environmental politics. It could also make research findings more policy-relevant by moving from ex-post analysis to in-sample prediction and out-of-sample forecasting.

Keywords: Conflict, cooperation, Prediction, Forecasting, International River Basins, Water

Suggested Citation

Bernauer, Thomas and Boehmelt, Tobias, Basins at Risk – Predicting International River Basin Conflict and Cooperation (December 10, 2013). Global Environmental Politics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Thomas Bernauer (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
+41 44 632 1289 (Fax)


Tobias Boehmelt

ETH Zürich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
8092 Zurich, CH-1015

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