Southeast Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world in terms of economic growth and urbanization. At the same time, the region is also prone to multiple hydro-meteorological disasters, which are projected to be intensified by climate change. This paper analyzes the combined effect of economic development and climate change on the future water security of middle-income Southeast Asian countries using the double exposure framework, focusing on the effects in urban areas. A review of the existing literature reveals unequal water security outcomes across the region as a result of combined climate, economic, and urbanization pressures. The water supply and sanitation infrastructure of upper-middle-income Southeast Asian countries are vulnerable to damage from intensified disasters, potentially decreasing both immediate and longer-term water quality. In lower-middle-income countries, the water quality will be the more important water security challenge in the short-term as opposed to water quantity, mainly due to the fast growth of industries. Lower-middle-income countries, though less vulnerable to disasters, will still have lower future water security compared to upper-middle-income countries, as they have less capacity to address water quality and quantity challenges brought about by both industrial growth and urbanization. Across the region, future water quantity and quality challenges may result in slower economic and urban growth if not planned adequately.
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