Water Bankruptcy and Environmental Politics in Iran (A Conversation with Kaveh Madani)

Recorded: October 5, 2020
Event: Bilingual Lecture Series

by Kaveh Madani

Frequent droughts coupled with over-abstraction of surface and groundwater through a large network of hydraulic infrastructure and deep wells have escalated Iran’s water situation to a critical level. This is evidenced by drying lakes, rivers and wetlands, declining groundwater levels, land subsidence, water quality degradation, soil erosion, desertification, and more frequent dust storms. In this conversation, Kaveh Madani overviews the major drivers of Iran’s water problems. He argues that Iran is suffering from a socio-economic drought—i.e. “water bankruptcy,” where water demand exceeds the natural water supply significantly. Madani believes that the current structure of the water governance system and the food-dependence paranoia in Iran leaves minimal hope for a meaningful reform that can address Iran’s water problems in a timely manner.