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Transboundary Climate Security: Climate Vulnerability and Human Security in the Jordan River Basin

in collaboration with Birzeit University, Palestine

Aims of the Project

This research addressed climate vulnerable rural communities within the national territories of the watershed of the Jordan River (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory), which is perhaps the most physically and politically stressed river basin in the world, critically applying a human security approach.

The aim of the research was to develop improved policy responses for climate risk management within the Jordan River Basin through a better understanding of the linkages between climate change, adaptation and human security. The study examined three core aspects of climate change in the region – climate vulnerability, adaptation to climate change and capacity-building for climate resilience:

  1. The study examined the human insecurity consequences of climate risks. By means of a collaborative network of researchers in the region, the study examined the climate vulnerability of selected local populations.
  2. The study critically applied human security as a framework for understanding how marginal agricultural communities are likely to experience climate change as a process of short-term coping and longer-term adaptation. The study contributed to domestic capacity building and improved policy dialogue about climate adaptation across the Jordan Basin.
  3. The working hypothesis for the research was that the coping mechanisms already developed by rural communities to deal with the effects of seasonal and political change on water availability negatively affect their capacity to adapt to the additional and longer-term effects of climate change.

The project was carried out in partnership with researchers from each of the Jordan River Basin territories, from the American University of Beirut, Birzeit University (both Palestinian and Arab-Israeli), University of Jordan and a Syrian academic institution, with specific research tasks as follows:

  • To identify the main determinants of climate vulnerability for selected rural communities in the region
  • To determine how current methods of adaptation by vulnerable rural communities serve to increase resilience to climate and other human security threats
  • To examine the regional links between climate vulnerability and human security in terms of humanitarian interventions undertaken by external actors;
  • To examine how state practices affect the capacity of vulnerable rural communities to cope with climate hazards
  • To inform policy processes aimed at reducing regional climate vulnerability
Outcomes and Impact

The findings and recommendations of the project benefit three broad communities.

  1. The main academic outcome of the research is an enhanced regional understanding of climate vulnerability.
  2. The research is also directly relevant to the national adaptation plans being developed by the territories in question.
  3. The project benefits the targeted agricultural communities in question in a number of ways. For example, the human security evaluation of climate risk coping mechanisms and adaptive capacity identified both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ dynamics in each community.

The project delivered a final report available to download here

Timeline: June 2012 - November 2014
  • July 2012: Project Inception Workshop - Preparation of Analytical Framework, Amman
  • July-November 2012: Baseline Data Collection and Fieldwork Preparation
  • January-March 2013: Field Research I
  • July-September 2013: Field Research II
  • October 2013: Final Research Workshop - Final Comparative Analysis, Beirut
  • January - April 2014: Write-up
  • November 2014:  Presentation of Final Report

Project Directors


Dr Michael Mason

Michael Mason is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Geography and Environment, LSE


Dr Ziad Mimi

Ziad Mimi is Associate Professor at the Civil Engineering Department, Birzeit University


Project Consultant


Dr Mark Zeitoun

Mark Zeitoun is Senior Lecturer at the School of International Development, University of East Anglia


Project Researchers


Janan Mousa

Janan Mousa, MSc Middle East Politics (SOAS), is a project researcher for the West Bank based at Birzeit University


Muna Dajani

Muna Dajani, MSc International Development and Environment (University of Manchester), was a project researcher for the Golan Heights based at Birzeit University and is now a PhD candidate in Environmental Policy & Development, at LSE. 


Dr Mohamad Khawlie

Mohamad Khawlie, PhD Environment/Geology (University of Illinois) is lead project researcher for southern Lebanon based in Beirut


Sireen Abu-Jamous

Sireen Abu-Jamous, MSc Water and Environmental Engineering (Birzeit University) is a project researcher for the West Bank based at Birzeit University


Hussam Hussein

Hussam Hussein is a project researcher and postgraduate at the School of International Development, University of East Anglia. He has Masters degrees in International Relations and Diplomacy (University of Trieste-Gorizia) and EU Interdisciplinary Studies (College of Europe).