Strategic Challenges in a Rapidly Changing Region
More than one in five people in the world depend on the great rivers that emanate from the Himalayas.
The environment of that region is changing rapidly, with temperatures increasing by 1.5 degrees Celsius within the last 30 years – more than three times as fast as the global average. This will substantively affect the river flows that more than one billion people, from Shanghai to Hanoi, Delhi to Dhaka.
Meanwhile, the nations in the region have embarked on an unprecedented construction boom in dam building, especially China.
The government of China controls the headwaters of all the area’s major rivers, except the Ganges. Collecting and using the water flows in massive dams can affect the water security of downstream neighbors. The Brahmaputra is the region’s only major river that is shared by the region’s two great powers, India and China. Basin management in this region will test their bilateral relationship.