Perspectives of current and future urban water security in Iran

Nooshin Karimi Alavijeh, Mohammad Ali Falahi*, Mohammad Taher Ahmadi Shadmehri, Narges Salehnia, Morten Andreas Dahl Larsen, Martin Drews

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Water plays a quintessential role in the lives of individuals and communities. In recent decades, population growth, migration from rural to urban areas, industrialization, and climate change have increasingly jeopardized the sustainability of cities, especially in developing countries, including Iran. The purpose of this study is to assess recent and future perspectives for urban water security in Iran. To do so, the paper extends previous water security studies within the region by collecting data on urban water security from a cohort of cities rather than a single location. To assess the state of water security in the recent past, from 2013 to 2019, we introduce a dedicated framework comprised of five dimensions and twelve indicators. In estimating future water resources for Iran in the period up to 2100, ensemble-based hydro-climatic regional climate model projections for RCPs 4.5 and 8.5 were analyzed in time and space.

The results show that four of the five dimensions of present-day urban water security, including accessibility, availability, water health and sanitation, and the economic value of water, all demonstrate general improvements in water-related urban infrastructure, whereas the environmental indicator depicts a decreasing trend. Future projected trends for Iran's hydro-climate show a general decline in its net availability from already scarce conditions and also increased variability due to climate change.

In general, the study indicates both advances in Iran's urban water security recently and severe implications for future water availability in certain regions and periods in the decades to come. The study also advises policymakers to seek to mitigate the water crisis in so far, as also enforced by climate change, by increasing the appropriate infrastructure and using new technologies in the water and wastewater industry.
Original languageEnglish
Article number129004
JournalJournal of cleaner production
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Water security
  • Water resources
  • Water indicators
  • Urban areas
  • Climate change
  • Iran


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