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Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks' Remarks at the White House Global Water Security Action Plan Rollout Event (As Delivered)

Well, good afternoon, everyone.  I want to thank Vice President Harris for the opportunity to be here and be part of today’s discussion – one that is focused on U.S. government efforts to promote water security.   

Water security is critical to national security.  

At the Department of Defense, we know firsthand that this is true.  Water security is necessary to carry out our missions at home and abroad.

This is because water insecurity, including the impacts of floods and drought; can create unprecedented challenges for governments; affect the demands on, and functionality of, military operations; increase humanitarian crises; and create opportunities for violent groups to leverage limited water supplies to gain influence.

For example, drought can lead to competition over scarce water resources and heighten social and political tensions within or between countries.

Floods can result in deaths, cause economic and infrastructure damage, and disrupt supply chains.

Both of these extreme events can contribute to instability, conflict, humanitarian crises, and the likelihood of migration.

We also see how water insecurity contributes to health challenges and gender inequality, further straining peace and stability. 

Water insecurity may affect U.S. national interests directly or contribute to requests for U.S. government assistance from other countries. 

Additionally, climate change is exacerbating water insecurity both at home and abroad.

In fact, many of the security implications of climate change are related to water – whether it’s too much or too little.

We cannot solve the climate crisis without considering water, whether for drinking, agriculture, or electricity generation.

Many of the most important opportunities to adapt to, and combat, climate change are linked to our ability to manage water resources and prepare for extreme hydrologic events.

We can only meet these challenges by leveraging the best science and data, and working closely with communities, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.

Additionally, we must seize on opportunities to develop and deploy new technology and advances in science to increase global water security and strengthen U.S. national security.

To keep our nation secure, we know that we must work together to increase global water security.  DoD is ready to support other U.S. government agencies and departments in taking action to increase water, climate, and national security.