Climate change adaptation is often discussed in terms of preserving natural resource bases and ecosystems, or reducing the threat of conflict. Today’s developing countries are seen as the likely losers, having less ability to adapt to the risks they face.

Golden glow: reflected trees
Photo: Evelyn Berg / Flickr

Less often addressed is how adaptation will disrupt the world order. For example, as petro-states lose access to the high rents fossil fuels have brought them, there is a high risk of social and political upheaval. The growing demand for resources linked to renewable energy, such as rare earth minerals, will create new sources of wealth and influence – and perhaps new resource curses. Cross-border energy trade will transform regional relationships, and perhaps new vulnerabilities for importers.

The essay focuses on the geopolitical implications of changing patterns of water supply, demand, management and cooperation in India.

The essay is part of Raisina Files 2018: Debating Disruption in the New World Order, published in advance of the annual Raisina Dialogue .