The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama in June 2021 approved the creation of the Global Water Security Center. US Air Force Retired Colonel Mike Gremillion, an experienced weather professional in the military and intelligence communities, was selected to lead the GWSC. Gremillion joined UA in 2020 after more than 27 years of providing scientific leadership and expertise for national security environmental support under the U.S. Department of Defense. His last military assignment was senior meteorology and oceanography officer for National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
GWSC exists to translate water and environmental science to help key global decision makers improve security at the intersection of water, energy, food, and health. Learn more.
The Global Water Security Center’s primary objectives are to:
- Deliver data, information, knowledge, and training to help key decision makers understand the connection between water security and national security and to leverage that knowledge to achieve their missions.
- Develop and maintain water and environmental security information and data that are consistent, up-to-date, and reliable.
- Advance water and environmental security science by facilitating research through collaborative partnerships with academia, government, and industry.
You can read more about these objectives and how we intend to carry them out in our 2022-27 Strategic Plan.
Why Water Security is Important
Water is essential for life – drinking, agriculture, energy, industrial production, and maintaining the environment around us. Yet as demand for water grows while uncertainty caused by changes to the physical environment increases, many communities around the world already face water crises that compound the impacts of disease and poverty, exacerbate food and energy insecurity, undermine economic growth, and reduce biodiversity.
The wide-ranging effects of water scarcity impact United States national and foreign policy objectives, making water a critical consideration in the nation’s security strategy. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) noted in a 2020 memorandum that over the next 20 to 30 years, some countries—particularly those affected by severe drought—will be unable to adequately address water challenges, risking internal political instability and interstate geopolitical competition.
In 2021, the National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change reiterated that the future will see country instability (strain on energy and food systems; negative health consequences; internal insecurity and conflict; greater demand for aid and humanitarian relief; strain on military readiness) as well as geopolitical flashpoints (cross-border water tension and conflict; migration) resulting from water insecurity.