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WATER A

N
D
Climate Change
An overview from the World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World
United Nations
Educational, Scientifc and
Cultural Organization
A United Nations World Water Assessment Programme Special Report
CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER
AN OVERVIEW FROM THE WORLD WATER DEVELOPMENT REPORT 3: WATER IN A CHANGING WORLD
A WORLD WATER ASSESSMENT PROGRAMME SPECIAL REPORT
The World Water Assessment Programme is most grateful to Joana Talafre and Friederike Knabe for their
valued contributions to the preparation of this report
Published by the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
Programme Ofce for Global Water Assessment
Division of Water Sciences, UNESCO
06134 Colombella, Perugia, Italy
Tel.:+ 39 075 591 10 11
Fax: + 39 075 591 33 23 / + 39 075 691 96 67
www.unesco.org/water/wwap
© UNESCO-WWAP 2009
Printed in France
SC-2010/WS/5
Foreword
Water is an integral component of climate change and the primary medium through which it exhibits its impacts.
With the world facing growing water challenges in many regions, how climate change will afect future societies
cannot be understood without looking at its impact on this most vital of our planet’s resources.
Tis World Water Assessment Programme Special Report brings together messages on water and climate change
from the World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. A joint efort of the 26 United Nations
agencies that make up UN-Water, the triennial World Water Development Report is the United Nations’
foremost and most comprehensive review of the state of the world’s freshwater resources.
Water in a Changing World shows that changes in our water resources are shaped to a great extent by a number of
key externalities, among them climate change, and that decisions taken far from the conventionally defned water
sector have a tremendous infuence on water resources and how they are used or misused. Tese two principle
messages of the report could not be timelier, with the challenges of climate change currently being squarely
addressed and innovative responses sought with such enthusiasm. Water in a Changing World describes the
dynamic linkages that interconnect changes in climate, the state of our water resources, demographic expansion
and migration issues, food and energy shortages, and the continuing challenge of poverty. Rather than addressing
these issues in isolation, it argues that a holistic approach is crucial if we are to solve the crises we face today
and avoid worse crises tomorrow.
Climate change directly afects the water cycle and, through it, the quantity and quality of water resources
available to meet human and environmental demands. It can lead to both foods and drought. Rising sea levels
have a serious efect on coastal aquifers, a major source of urban and regional water supply systems, and higher
water temperatures and changes in extremes can exacerbate many forms of water pollution. Water supply
reliability, health, agriculture, energy and aquatic ecosystems – all will feel the impact of these changes to the
water cycle. Te demand for water to meet these needs is also afected by climate change. Te importance of
water to sustainable social and economic development cannot be underestimated, yet many countries are already
facing multiple water challenges, all of them compounded by climate change.
While mitigation of anthropogenic climate change is vital, the blunt reality is that all countries must also adapt
to climate change – particularly developing countries, which are often especially vulnerable to climate change
and many of which will be hit hardest and earliest. Even if greenhouse gas concentrations stabilize in the coming
years, some impacts from climate change are unavoidable. Tese include increasing water stress in many regions,
more extreme weather events and the potential for large population migration.
Adaptation to climate change will demand a frm commitment from leaders in government, private sector and
civil society worldwide. Public policy on key water services and functions must prioritize a strengthening of
competencies and institutions, and ensuring the infrastructure investment necessary for long-term water security.
But policy choices and other decisions made outside the water domain are also crucial if we are to change and
improve how water is allocated and used, as well as making the adaptation to new, more efcient management
systems more efective and less costly. Te international community will have to balance investments to reduce
risks and to prepare for increasingly severe climate events against investments to improve responses to the crises
already being experienced today. Both are vital, and focusing on today’s problems can also create greater resilience
for dealing with the problems of tomorrow.
Carbon is a measure of the anthropogenic causes of climate change; water is a measure of its impacts. We must
act now, and act together, if we are to rise to the challenges of climate change to ensure long-term economic,
environmental and social sustainability and avert a global water crisis.
Olcay Ünver
World Water Assessment Programme Coordinator
United Nations Educational, Scientifc and Cultural Organization
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United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
Foreword by Olcay Ünver, Coordinator of the United Nations World Water
Assessment Programme
Synopsis
1. Climate change has undeniable impacts on water
1a. Direct ways in which climate change impacts the water cycle: effects on
precipitation and evaporation cycles
1b. Indirect effects of climate change on the water cycle: migration and
changing patterns of consumption
2. Water is at the root of a complex vulnerability dynamic
2a. Water availability and poor water management are at the root of
vulnerability for many countries already and this is likely to increase
with future climate changes, having an undeniable effect on
development progress and achievement of MDGs; adaptation strategies
are needed urgently
2b. Water-related vulnerability occurs through multiple, mutually-reinforcing
linkages: health, food, energy, in addition to physical and economic
vulnerabilities
2c. Possible futures for climate and water
3. Responses to climate change must focus on water
3a. Addressing water drivers is an inescapable part of reducing vulnerability
to climate change and building resilience for adaptation
3b. There has to be a balance between mitigation and adaptation strategies
so that win–win solutions can be realized
3c. Agriculture is a primary area for development of adaptation strategies
4. Proactive adaptation requires enabling policy conditions at all
levels: national, regional and international
4a. At national level, water governance must be expanded to and integrated
with non-water sectors; access to technology, science and information
should be increased for sound planning; development efforts should be
checked for what could be maladaptations with regards to water
4b. At regional level, collaborative water management for shared surface
and groundwater should be emphasized; there are numerous models
for sharing water that provide equity as well as rational management
4c. At international and global level, fnancing for water-related investments
should be increased, including for infrastructure, technology, and data
collection and dissemination
4d. At regional level, collaborative water management for shared surface
and groundwater should be emphasized; there are numerous models
for sharing water that provide equity as well as rational management
Key references
Contents
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Climate Change and Water
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C
limate change has undeniable impacts on water. It has and will continue to impact the
water cycle in direct and indirect ways: by affecting precipitations and evaporation cycles,
as well as by changing patterns of consumption. In turn, evolving consumption patterns and
economic development will increase demands on water supply.
Climate change is experienced most directly through its impacts on water availability. Some
countries are already experiencing serious water shortages or are reaching the limits of their water
resources. The effects of climate change are likely to aggravate this situation even further.
Water-related vulnerabilities occur through multiple, mutually-reinforcing linkages: food, health
and energy, in addition to physical and economic vulnerabilities. For many countries, especially
developing countries, water availability and management are already at the root of a complex vulner-
ability dynamic and challenges are likely to increase with climate change, thereby having an undeni-
able effect on development progress and achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Least developed countries are the most vulnerable, as their present water resource management
technologies and capacities are inadequate and insuffcient.
It is vital that responses to climate change must focus on water. Addressing water resource
management is recognized as a priority, and is an inescapable part of reducing vulnerability and
promoting adaptation to climate change. A balance between mitigation and adaptation strategies
has to be established at policy and programme levels so that ‘win-win’ solutions can be realized.
Competition for water is intensifying: between countries, urban and rural areas, or different
sectors of activity. This could make water an increasingly politicized issue. Holistic and multisectoral
approaches have to be taken when developing adaptation strategies.
Agriculture, as the sector requiring the largest percentage of water resources, is a primary area
for development of adaptation strategies. There exist a variety of ‘no-regrets’ solutions that will help
address current and possible future water-related vulnerability and generate multiple development
benefts, regardless of climate scenarios.
Proactive adaptation requires enabling policy conditions at all levels:
At national levels, water governance must be expanded to, and integrated with, non-water
sectors; access to technology, science and information should be increased for sound
planning; and development efforts need to be checked for what could be maladaptations
with regards to water.
At regional levels, collaborative water management for shared surface and groundwater should
be emphasized. There exist numerous models for sharing water that provide equity, as well as
rational management.
At the international and global level, fnancing for water-related investments should be increased,
including for infrastructure, technology.
Synopsis
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United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
1a Direct ways in which climate
change impacts the water
cycle: effects on precipitation
and evaporation cycles
H
uman societies have always lived with uncer-
tainty and variability in climate. We have
learned to adapt to the realities of our given
environment, yet our requirements for water to meet
our fundamental needs and our collective pursuit of
higher living standards, coupled with the need for
water to sustain our planet’s ecosystems, make water
unique among our planet’s natural resources. Water
is essential to life, sustainable economic growth and
the functioning of ecosystems: but the water supply
is fnite.
Climate change could alter the timing, magnitude
and duration of rainfall and other weather events.
All evidence shows that climate variabilities have
increased to such a degree that predictability of water
availability has been reduced dramatically: weather
extremes are shifting and intensifying, and thereby
introducing greater uncertainty in the quantity and
quality of our water supplies over the short and the
long term. Climate change is usually described as the
supply-side ‘driver’ that will ultimately determine how
much water we have available.
We can and must, therefore, manage the interaction
between human demands (demand-side drivers) on our
water supply and naturally occurring changes in climate
patterns, which are increasingly intensifed through cli-
mate change. These demand-side drivers include eco-
nomic, social and demographic pressures – all affected
by a range of factors from technological innovation to
institutional and fnancial conditions. How we manage
these ‘demand drivers’ will affect climate change.
There is evidence that the global climate is
changing.
Water is the primary medium through which
climate change impacts the earth’s ecosystem
and people.
Climate change is the fundamental driver of
change in the world’s water resources and adds
additional stress through its effects on other
externalities.
Human activities affect demand on the world’s
water supply, which in turn, impact on climate
change.
C
limate change directly affects the water cycle,
and through it, the quantity and quality of water
resources. It can lower minimum fows in rivers,
affecting water availability and quality for drinking
water, fora and fauna, energy production (hydropower),
thermal plant cooling and navigation. Climate change
also creates variations in water storage and fuxes
at the land surface; in storage in soil moisture and
groundwater, glaciers and seasonal snow packs; in the
surface water of lakes, wetlands and reservoirs; and in
precipitation, runoff and evaporative fuxes to and from
the land surface.
Direct impacts of climate change on the water cycle
could mean that some regions will become dryer and
turn into arid and semi-arid regions, or even deserts.
Changes in water cycles will threaten the survival of
fragile ecosystems in these regions, and consequently
endanger the lives of people who depend on the natu-
ral resources that these ecosystems provide. Already
today, more than 40% of the world’s land resources are
in drylands (i.e. sub-humid, semi-arid and arid regions)
that are threatened by land degradation and desertif-
cation. This has a direct impact on a quarter of a billion
people, and an indirect impact on more than a billion
people (UNCCD  2008).

The coping mechanisms used
by those living with regular cycles of water scarcity
are likely to become obsolete or no longer adaptive
to new and changing environmental conditions. Local
biodiversity, essential for ecosystem survival, as a result
will be further threatened.
Other regions will experience dramatic increases
in disasters, such as foods caused by typhoons and
hurricanes. Rainfall that exceeds the carrying capacity
of the water channels can also cause fooding, threaten
the infrastructure of water systems and endanger
ecosystems. Changing water cycles caused by climate
change will affect food production, land use and sur-
vival of plant and animal species.
The development of water management strategies
must, therefore, take climate change into account, as
it adds to uncertainty and unpredictability in the water
supply.
Climate change
has undeniable
impacts on water
1
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Climate Change and Water
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rought, desertifcation and other forms of water
scarcity are already estimated to affect as many as
one-third of the world’s people and are predicted
to worsen, affecting consumption and migration patterns in
many parts of the world.
Migration
The direct supply-side effects of climate change outlined
previously, including increased water scarcity, fooding, accel-
erated glacial melting and rising sea levels, have the potential
to accelerate human migration.
Rural-urban migration and migration in response to politi-
cal confict and environmental crises are other growing demo-
graphic drivers affecting water resources and allocations. The
UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing
World (WWDR-3) estimates the potential of environmentally
displaced people (likely displaced as a result of water-related
factors) to be in the range of 24 million to almost 700 million.
Such migration would seriously impact development projects
designed to relieve future stresses on water availability. Part of
the complexity in unravelling the connection between migra-
tion and environmental factors, such as water resources, is that
people rely directly or indirectly on the natural environment for
their livelihoods. In addition, development policies and political
and economic stability – or the lack thereof – can affect both
migration and water resources. Given these complexities, it is
diffcult to estimate the magnitude of potential migration as a
result of environmental factors (WWDR-3, page 32).
1

Changing consumption patterns
While climate change is clearly the supply-side driver affect-
ing the availability of water resources, human demands also
interact with climate change to exacerbate the pressures on
the water supply. Currently the most important demand-side
pressures on water arise from population growth in the early
stages of a country’s development and, with further develop-
ment, consumption choices in the wake of rising per capita
incomes. As incomes grow, people consume more – and thus
more water will be needed; for instance, to produce food for
tens of millions of people moving from one meal to two meals
a day and/or to produce the increasing amount of meat that
may be included in their diets.
As countries develop, rising standards of living also boost
the demand for non-food items and services, many of which
have a large ecological and water footprint. Whereas in devel-
oped countries consumers and corporations are increasingly
being encouraged to reduce their water footprints, large
amounts of water are used to produce and process non-food
goods and services (virtual water content), adding to pres-
sures on the quantity and quality of water resources. The
concept of ‘virtual water’ has been introduced to refect the
indirect use of water that leaves a country in exports and
enters another through imports as integral part of goods that
use water for production.
Other external forces that may create either positive
or negative pressures on water resources include pricing
policies and subsidies for water and water-related goods,
trade patterns, developments in science and technology,
consumption patterns, evolution of policies and laws, social
movements, and politics at global and national levels. These
external forces, unlike climate change, will not create pres-
sures directly (or only) on water management. But climate
change will exacerbate the uncertainty surrounding all these
development drivers, because it reduces the predictability
of water resources available to fulfl the other societal and
economic demands.
Managing water resources is made more diffcult by a
lack of knowledge and information required for decision-
making and long-term planning. Few countries know how
much water is being used, for what purposes, nor the quantity
and quality of water that is available. Few know how much
water can be withdrawn without serious environmental con-
sequences, nor the amount of fnance being invested in water
management and infrastructure. Climate change complicates
these uncertainties.
1b Indirect effects of climate change on the water cycle: migration and changing
patterns of consumption
1 WWDR-3: World Water Assessment Programme, 2009, The United
Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing
World. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, and London: Earthscan.
SeCti oN 1
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Water resource management impacts almost all aspects of the economy,
in particular, health, food production and security, domestic water
supply and sanitation, energy, industry and environmental sustainability.
Climate variability, water resource management and economic
development are intricately linked.
Vulnerability to natural disasters affecting the water supply hampers
economic performance and undermines poverty reduction goals and
achievement of the MDGs.
H
istory shows a strong link between economic development and water
resources development. There are abundant examples of how water
has contributed to economic development and how development has
demanded increased harnessing of water. Such benefts have come at a cost
and, in some places, have led to increasing pressure on the environment and
increasing competition among users.
Weather-related disasters, such as foods and droughts, are undermining
economic development in many of the world’s least developed countries, caus-
ing human suffering and disrupting economic activities. WWDR-3 argues that
the availability of water and the skill with which it is managed are determinants
of a country’s growth trajectory. Good water management is normally the pre-
condition of sustainable development.
There is clear evidence of a relationship between climate variability and
economic performance in countries in which agriculture represents a large
share of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The ensuing challenges
will be of particular importance and concern in sub-Saharan Africa and other
Least Developed Countries (LDCs) where rainfed farming systems are reli-
ant on more or less predictable weather patterns. Evidence also suggests
a strong relationship between economic development and vulnerability to
disaster. Across developing countries, losses associated with disasters are so
large as to undermine development and poverty reduction goals. Yet climate
risks are seldom adequately considered in infrastructure designs, agriculture
investments and water management plans of these countries, or of the donor
community. Substantial fnancial and other development resources are being
diverted each year to post-disaster relief, emergency assistance, reconstruc-
tion and rehabilitation. Poorly managed climate risks also discourage private
investment.
Competition for water and shortcomings in managing water supply sys-
tems to meet the needs of society and the environment call for enhanced
societal responses through improved management, better legislation, and
more effective and transparent allocation mechanisms. Water management
choices should emerge from informed consultation and negotiation on the
costs and benefts of all options after considering relationships between land
and water resources, water basin interconnectedness, and the consistency and
coherence of decisions with other government policies.
Water is at the root of a
complex vulnerability dynamic
The Millennium Goals include the following
water-related targets:
‘To halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of the
world’s people whose income is less than one
dollar a day and the proportion of people who
suffer from hunger and, by the same date, to
halve the proportion of people who are unable
to reach or to afford safe drinking water.’
‘To stop the unsustainable exploitation of water
resources by developing water management
strategies at the regional, national and local
levels, which promote both equitable access
and adequate supplies.’
Water and the Millennium
Development Goals
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United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
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Climate Change and Water
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roperly managing water resources is essential to socioeco-
nomic development, poverty reduction and equity – all crucial
for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The
Millennium Declaration placed safe drinking water and basic sanita-
tion frmly among development objectives, making these a target
of Millennium Development Goal 7. But while adequate progress is
being made globally towards the provision of safe drinking water,
the sanitation target is far from being met. Despite progress, the
scale of the challenge remains massive. Large regions of the world, in
particular in sub-Saharan Africa and low-income Arab states, are far
from reaching the global target, while some risk backsliding.
The contribution of improved drinking water and sanitation
to the achievement of all the MDGs is now well established. The
WWDR-3 demonstrates this link throughout; others have elaborated
the direct and indirect contributions of water management across
all the MDGs. Climate change will increase the vulnerability of water
supplies and underscore the importance of the targets at local,
national and global levels.
One of the most pressing challenges of climate change is address-
ing the vulnerability of human populations, particularly the poor, to the
impacts of extreme hydrologic events such as foods, storm surges and
droughts. This must be done in concert with the creation of sustain-
able and resilient development opportunities that take into account
projected climate conditions. Over the longer term, the effects of
incremental climate change are likely to infuence decisions about
food security, energy security and land use, all with vital implications
for water resource management and environmental sustainability. In
this context, climate change can intensify existing pressures, thereby
increasing risk, vulnerability and uncertainty.
Some parts of the world have no shortage of water; others, such
as North Africa; large regions of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East
and Australia; and parts of South Asia, South-East Asia and South
America, suffer scarcity because of low annual rainfall. Many regions
suffer from seasonal scarcity or from extreme seasonal rainfall,
causing foods. Some suffer from both low and extreme rainfalls, at
different times, leading to high variations in river runoff levels, land
degradation, and loss of top soil and crops in the process, thereby
weakening already fragile ecosystems while increasing food inse-
curity and poverty. Given the vital economic importance of rainfed
farming for many developing countries, upgrading farming systems
will form a major part of the response to the growth in demand for
food and the reduction of hunger as part of the MDGs. According to
one estimate, 85% of the freshwater required to meet the hunger
goal will originate from rainfed agriculture.
2
In some large countries, such as Mozambique and the United
States, parts of the country may experience damaging intensive
2a Water availability and poor water management are at the root of vulnerability for many
countries already and this is likely to increase with future climate changes, having
an undeniable effect on development progress and achievement of the Millennium
Development Goals; adaptation strategies are needed urgently
rainfalls while other parts may suffer prolonged drought. These vari-
ations matter most where they affect large populations or where the
infrastructure cannot adequately handle the distribution of water
resources and other necessities, such as in some of the LDC countries.
Scarcity – low available water per capita – is forecast to worsen
where population growth is still high, as in sub-Saharan Africa, South
Asia and parts of South America and the Middle East. Climate change
and variability will affect the poorest and most marginalized groups,
making them even more vulnerable. Climate uncertainty – the inabil-
ity to anticipate climate extremes – also discourages investment and
innovation, and dampens the effectiveness of development efforts.
Adapting to climate change adds a critical challenge to this pic-
ture for all countries, particularly for developing countries and for
cities in coastal areas. Climate models show that extremes of rainfall
are likely to worsen, resulting in more foods and droughts in regions
already affected – often regions with low-income levels per capita,
widespread poverty, high population growth and rapid urbanization.
Adaptation capacity will vary from country to country, with
developing countries having the most urgent need for adaptation
strategies to be developed and/or strengthened, especially among
their vulnerable populations. In poor communities where survival is
the main concern, people may have few choices about how they use
land and water; the perceived risks of alternatives could outweigh
their potential benefts. This is why the most successful integrated
rural development initiatives are taking a holistic approach and are
designed to help such communities reduce risks, develop alterna-
tives and bring trade-offs to the forefront in decision-making.
Adaptation capacity within countries will depend on a range
of preconditions, including awareness and appreciation of climate
information and of the investment potential for adaptation strategies.
Comprehensive climate information that allows for increasingly reli-
able projections will be vital for the development of any adaptation
strategy. Given that agricultural societies are especially vulnerable to
climate change, they will have to introduce changes in their farming
systems to ensure continued food security and nutrition levels.
Lack of detailed climate knowledge, however, should not pre-
clude or delay action now. Governments and societies cannot cope
well with existing climate variabilities. Building adaptive capacity and
tackling current conditions will not only alleviate existing problems,
but will also increase the adaptation potential for impending and
future climate changes.
2 ‘Sustainable pathways to attain the Millennium Development
Goals: assessing the key role of water, energy and sanitation’.
Stockholm Environment Institute, Aug 2005.
SeCti oN 2
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T
he water situation and the vulnerability of poor communi-
ties present a strong case for urgent actions on climate
change. Projections warn of changes in water availability
and quality that could have disastrous consequences. As the prin-
cipal medium through which climate change will affect economic,
social and environmental conditions, water should be at the apex
of adaptation efforts.
Changes in water availability will have economy-wide
impacts. While policy makers appear motivated to respond to
the impacts of future climate change, they are less inclined and
unmotivated to act on the water crises that are evident today.
Even without climate change, development is threatened in
many regions by factors that given national governments and
the international community have already failed to address time
and again as regards current climate variabilities. The April 2008
report on water by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) points this out clearly (see Box 1.10 on page 73
of the WWDR-3, reproduced below).
The IPCC report notes that millions of people in densely popu-
lated low-lying coastal areas risk increasing exposure to fooding
by storm surges over the 21st century. Current IPCC projections
of rising temperatures and sea levels and increased intensity
of droughts and storms suggest that substantial population
2b Water-related vulnerability occurs through multiple, mutually-reinforcing linkages: health,
food, energy, in addition to physical and economic vulnerabilities
displacements will take place within the next 30–50 years, par-
ticularly in coastal zones. All of these climate-change refugees will
require shelter, water and sanitation services.
Gender
Women in developing countries and fragile ecosystems face mul-
tiple challenges. Already disadvantaged through gender inequity
and a higher level of poverty, women are more dependent on
reliable water resources in their vicinity because of their role in
food production and family responsibility, as explained in Box 2.3
on page 38 of the WWDR-3. An increased involvement by women
in awareness raising and decision-making is of vital importance.
Health
Every year in developing countries an estimated 3 million people
die prematurely from water-related diseases. The largest propor-
tion of these deaths is among infants and young children, followed
by women from poor rural families who lack access to safe water
and improved sanitation. Global warming can expand the endemic
zones of water-related infectious diseases, like dengue, malaria
and schistosomiasis, making it increasingly diffcult for people to
remain in affected areas. Such trends are already noticeable today.
Recurring foods or storm surges, if not managed effectively, could
Current water management practices may not be robust
enough to cope with the impacts of climate change on
water supply reliability, food risk, health, agriculture,
energy and aquatic ecosystems. In many locations,
water management cannot satisfactorily cope even with
current climate variability, so that large food and drought
damages occur. As a frst step, improved incorporation of
information about current climate variability into water-
related management would assist adaptation to longer-
term climate change impacts. Climatic and non-climatic
factors, such as growth of population and damage
potential, would exacerbate problems in the future (very
high confdence).
Source: IPCC 2008.
Box 1.10 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change Technical Report on Water
and Climate Change
UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing
World, Box 1.10 (page 19)
Climate change can affect health through multiple
pathways, such as greater frequency and intensity of
heat waves, fewer cold-related illnesses, increased foods
and droughts, changes in the distribution of vector-
borne diseases and effects on the risk of disasters and
malnutrition. The overall balance of impacts on health
is likely to be negative, and populations in low-income
countries are likely to be particularly vulnerable to the
adverse effects. However, many of the projected impacts
of climate change on health are avoidable. Climate change
is expected to exacerbate some health problems rather
than cause new diseases to emerge. Strengthening public
health prevention strategies, including improving water
supply and sanitation services and disease surveillance,
would be an essential part of any effective response.
Source: Haines et al. 2006; Campbell-Lendrum, Corvelan and
Neira 2007.
Box 5.3 Health and climate change
UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing
World, Box 5.3 (page 73)
2 Wat er i s at t he root of a compl ex vul nerabi l i t y dynami c
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Climate Change and Water
7
countries and regions without enough water to produce their food
is rising as populations increase, the situation can be remedied
in many developing countries by investing in water infrastructure,
markets, credit, agricultural technology and extension services.
Investment in water infrastructure is required to meet basic needs
in rural areas and to enhance agricultural productivity through
better water management.
Energy
Demand for energy – for heat, light, power and transportation – is
increasing rapidly. The combination of high prices and a desire to
substitute other sources of fuel led to the recent increase in the
production of bioenergy, which has potentially important impacts
on water quality and availability. Hydropower may be a renew-
able and non-polluting source of energy in some countries. Water
for cooling is needed for all thermal sources of power, including
nuclear. In the United States, water withdrawn for cooling (39%) is
equal to the share of water use in agriculture. At the same time,
energy is required to lift groundwater, pump it through pipes and
treat both groundwater and wastewater. An estimated 7% of all
energy produced is used for such purposes. Increased demand for
water through desalination may increase energy demand in some
countries, although on a global scale this demand is marginal.
drive large numbers of people permanently from their homes,
resulting in refugee movements and migration. The effect of cli-
mate change on health is discussed in Box 5.3 on page 73 of the
WWDR-3.
Food
Agriculture is by far the largest consumer of freshwater. Globally,
about 70% of freshwater withdrawals go to irrigated farming,
and far greater volumes of water are used in rainfed agriculture.
The recent steep rise in food prices has damaged many food-
importing countries. The problem has been compounded by the
rising demand for food caused by growing populations and shift-
ing diets, production shortfalls, increased costs of crucial inputs
such as fertilizers (driven by energy prices), incentives to produce
bioenergy, all of which are exacerbated by market speculation in
trade practices.
Current climate variabilities already present serious chal-
lenges for food security in many developing countries. Rurally
based populations in countries that rely on rainfed agriculture and
primarily depend on subsistence farming systems are especially
vulnerable. In general, water scarcity can limit food production
and supply, putting pressure on food prices and increasing coun-
tries’ dependence on food imports. But although the number of
In most developing countries gender inequity persists in
access to and control of a range of productive, human and
social capital assets. Consequently, the core components of
poverty (capability, opportunity, security and empowerment)
differ along gender lines.
In the water sector women labour to provide water for house-
hold needs while men make decisions about water resources
management and development at both the local and national
levels. Women draw water for household use, transport it home
and store it until it is used for cooking, cleaning and washing. In
areas of low water coverage women collect water from drains,
ditches or streams that are often infected with pathogens and
bacteria, causing severe illness or even death. In addition,
women spend considerable time collecting water at the ex-
pense of income-generating activities. This also exposes them
to sexual abuse and other forms of violence and leaves less time
for girls to attend school.
Lessons from Africa and the rest of the world have demon-
strated that increased participation by women in decision-
making leads to better operation and maintenance of water
facilities, better health for the community, greater privacy and
dignity for women, more girls attending school and increased
income opportunities for women.
The immediate action by water sector participants is to
ensure gender mainstreaming in any planned action, includ-
ing legislation, policies and programmes in all areas and at
all levels. This will ensure that the voices of marginalized and
disadvantaged women and men are integrated in design,
implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and
programmes and therefore help to achieve sustainable water
provision for all.
Source: Adapted from Mutagamba 2008.
Box 2.3 The role of women within the water sector & the importance of gender mainstreaming
UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World, Box 2.3 (page 38)
SeCti oN 2
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T
he IPCC contends that current water management prac-
tices may not be robust enough to cope with the impacts
of climate change on water supply reliability, food risk,
health, agriculture, energy and aquatic ecosystems. In many
locations, water management cannot even satisfactorily cope
with current climate variability, resulting in large food and
drought damages.
Climatic and non-climatic factors, such as population growth
and damage potential, will exacerbate these problems in the
future. As a frst step, improved incorporation of information
about current climate variability into water-related manage-
ment would assist countries towards adaptation to longer-term
climate change impacts.
The combined and interacting forces of climate change
and socio-economic drivers result in a continuously increasing
demand for fnite water resources for which there are no substi-
tutes. When water resources of acceptable quality can no longer
be provided in sustainable quantities, the outcome can lead to
overexploitation of aquatic ecosystems. The ultimate losers are
the exploited aquatic ecosystems and the organisms (including
humans) dependent on them for survival and well-being.
Investment in water
Investment in water is an inseparable part of sustainable eco-
nomic development. Climate change is one of a number of
serious threats that have to be met by global society in coming
2c Possible futures for climate and water
decades. Policies and practices for mitigating climate change or
adapting to it will have impacts on water resources, and how
we manage water can affect the climate. Such adaptation meas-
ures must address several fundamental aspects: food, energy,
environment, as well as overall economic development. They
deserve top priority and commensurate funding.
There is clear evidence of a relationship between climate
variability and economic performance in countries in which
agriculture is a large share of GDP, as in Ethiopia and Tanzania.
3

Evidence further shows the direct relation between macr-
oeconomic returns to investments in water management, and
conversely, the costs of failures to invest. Environmental degra-
dation from water pollution and excessive withdrawals also has
negative economic impacts. For example, the damage cost of
environmental degradation in the Middle East and North Africa
has been estimated at some US$9 billion a year, or 2.1%–7.4% of
GDP. Industrial countries are learning the enormous costs associ-
ated with restoring essential ecosystems. In the United States the
costs have been estimated at more than $60 billion and continue
to rise as more becomes known.
Conversely, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates
potential socio-economic returns of between US$3-$34, depend-
ing on the region and technology, for each $1 invested in safe
drinking water and basic sanitation. There is a strong case that
improved coverage of drinking water and sanitation contributes
to economic growth.
Supply augmentation
Supply augmentation is typically constrained by the availability of storage sites, social and environmental costs, and the
rising fnancial cost of water. With needs outstripping available stocks in many basins, transfers between basins have
become more frequent. Amman, Athens, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Los Angeles and Mexico City are procuring water further
afeld. The massive transfer of water now under way in China (from the Yangtze River to the Yellow River) is being emu-
lated in Brazil, India, Jordan and Thailand. While this trend is likely to continue, its potential will gradually be exhausted
and its costs will spiral upwards. Other small-scale options, such as farm ponds in Asia or wells, have also been widely
developed. Desalination is an option in specifc locations (islands and coastal cities), but its cost is likely to remain high
(though it is decreasing) and its use limited to urban supply. Other nonconventional sources of supply include wastewater,
secondary sources (such as treated irrigation drainage) and the mining of fossil (non-renewable) aquifers.
Because of reuse of water in basins and users’ adjustments to scarcity, fully developed basins or aquifers tend to
have much less ‘slack’ than is often thought, and the potential for net water savings at the basin level is often overstated.
When limits are reached and improved effciency and demand management possibilities are exhausted, there are often
no win-win solutions to meet additional demands; rather, resources must be reallocated from one source to another.
These demand management options are discussed in more detail in the following section. Countries rarely resort to all
three options at once, unless pressure over the resource is severe, as in Tunisia.
2 Wat er i s at t he root of a compl ex vul nerabi l i t y dynami c
8
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Climate Change and Water
9
Integration of adaptation strategies
As highlighted in preceding sections, water resource manage-
ment clearly impacts many other policy areas, for example
energy, health, food security and nature conservation. Thus, the
appraisal of adaptation and mitigation options needs to be con-
ducted across multiple water-dependent sectors. Low-income
countries and regions are likely to remain vulnerable over the
medium term, with fewer options than high-income countries
for adapting to climate change. Therefore, adaptation strategies
should be designed in the context of development, environment
and health policies.
The unpredictability of future water resources and pattern
of distribution should not be an excuse for lack of action and
strategic planning today.
The WWDR-3 contends that planning for future water
resources often tends to prioritize the supply side of water
rather than the demand side, thereby seriously undermining
diminishing non-renewal water reserves, such as aquifers.
So far in the National Adaptation Programmes of Actions
(NAPAs) prepared by the LDCs, there is a heavy bias towards
supply-side interventions. It will be important for the success
of adaptation strategies to strike the right balance between
demand- and supply-side measures. Although supply-side
measures have greater political attraction and can attract aid
funding, demand management is vital to promote long-term
sustainability.
Urgency of action
It is vital to address these major challenges now, rather than in
the future, and to assist policy makers, practitioners and experts
to map out strategies that can be implemented in the present.
It is important to ensure that vulnerable populations are given
the tools to build resilience that prepares them for coping with
challenges today and in the future. For example, there needs
to be better management of rainwater, soil moisture and sup-
plemental irrigation. This will have strong impacts on poverty,
since the farmers concerned are typically among the poorest,
and are highly vulnerable to climatic variability. The increasing
use of ‘climate knowledge’ to better understand the effects of
climate variability and its socioeconomic impact, in which water
is implicated, will also contribute to better adaptation strategies.
Technology
Developing countries will depend on technology advances and transfers in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate
change. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), most technologies for
adapting to climate change are already available in developing countries. Where they are not, the situation will call for
the removal of obstacles and facilitation of technology transfer, and for more cooperation on research and development.
Combined with improved technology for monitoring, collecting and analyzing information, these developments
should lead to improvements in warning systems for foods and droughts and other major water-related events. If these
can be combined with hazard mitigation strategies involving all levels of affected communities, there are enormous
opportunities to avoid loss of human life and economic damages.
Africa illustrates the situation in stark terms. Typical problems include low quality and quantity of basic equipment;
poor technology; few laboratories for recalibrating equipment; inadequately trained personnel at both professional and
technician levels; and insuffcient funding and capital to sustain current operations or acquire new technologies. These
technical challenges are compounded by the reluctance of countries to exchange data freely.
3 See Figure 5.2 in WWDR-3, 2009: ‘GDP growth tracks
rainfall variability in Ethiopia (1983–2000) and Tanzania
(1989–1999), page 70.
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Climate Change and Water
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limate change, especially its implications for scarce water
resources, is a matter of collective security in a fragile and
increasingly interdependent world. At a 2007 United Nations
(UN) Security Council debate on the impact of climate change on
peace and security, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that
climate change has implications for peace and security, as well as
serious implications for the environment, societies and economies.
In particular, he stressed that this is especially the case ‘in vulnerable
regions that face multiple stresses at the same time – pre-existing
confict, poverty and unequal access to resources, weak institutions,
food insecurity and incidence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS’. He out-
lined ‘alarming, though not alarmist’ scenarios, including limited or
threatened access to energy increasing the risk of confict; a scarcity
of food and water transforming peaceful competition into violence;
and foods and droughts sparking massive human migrations, polar-
izing societies and weakening the ability of countries to resolve
conficts peacefully. In Africa alone, by 2020, 75–250 million people
may be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change
(WWDR-3, page 19).
Adverse changes in internal, interjurisdictional and transbound-
ary waters can put food, social, health, economic, political and mili-
tary security at risk. Some fragile states have experienced widespread
confict that has resulted in the destruction of economic infrastruc-
ture. The vulnerability of affected populations is worsened by the
state’s loss of control over the forces of law and order and ultimately
by its loss of political legitimacy.
Investing in water systems and services is an opportunity to
counter these destabilizing forces. Widespread confict in some fragile
states has destroyed much of their social and economic infrastruc-
ture. Restoring this, and renewing their institutional capacity, can help
to set post-confict nations on a path to recovery. For example, the
rehabilitation of damaged irrigation infrastructure and expansion of
water supply and sanitation was a key feature of the 2006 Somali
Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan. Rebuilding after major natural
disasters is also an opportunity to address long-standing infrastruc-
ture defcits.

Responses to climate change
must focus on water
10
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O
ne of the most pressing challenges that climate
change brings is the vulnerability of populations,
especially the poor among them, to the impacts of
extreme events such as foods, storm surges and droughts. The
rural poor, usually the most vulnerable and the most depend-
ent on reliable environmental resources, represent about half
of the world’s population today, or 3.3 billion people (WWDR-3,
page 31). While trends indicate that by 2030, urban dwellers
will make up about 60% of the world’s population, a large pro-
portion of the other 40% will continue to rely on subsistence
and rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods. Climate change is
likely to intensify existing pressures, increasing risk, vulnerabil-
ity and uncertainty. Over the longer term, incremental climate
change will impinge on decisions about food security, energy
security and land use, all with implications for the manage-
ment of water resources and environmental sustainability.
The number of countries and regions without enough
water to produce their food is rising as populations increase.
Meeting water needs during dry seasons and ensuring secu-
rity of supply require water storage. Climate change will inten-
sify climate irregularity, so that more storage will be needed
to ensure the same level of security. More water will have
to be kept in reservoirs as reserves for dry spells, leaving
less for everyday use. But this increased need for storage
is occurring at a time when pressure from users is forcing
water managers to take risks and reduce carryover stocks.
Many regions are not yet taking the need to store more water
into account, resulting in a growing frequency of local crises
during extreme drought.
While in many developed countries water storage at a level
of 70%–90% ensures reliable sources of water for irrigation,
water supply and hydropower, as well as a buffer for food man-
agement, less developed countries, such as those in Africa, for
example, store as little as 4% of annual renewable fows, risking
serious vulnerabilities in the short and longer term.
Developing countries need support of all kinds, including
fnancial, to improve climatic adaptation, which affects develop-
ment at many levels. In Africa, the impacts of climate change are
expected to range from increased energy shortages, reduced
agricultural production, worsening food security and malnutri-
tion to the increasing spread of disease, more humanitarian
emergencies, growing migratory pressures and increased risks
of confict over scarce land and water resources. Finance for
adaptation should be augmented and made available for pro-
grammes in all sectors where this is likely to be required.
T
here is an urgent need to mitigate the pressures on
climate change, but meanwhile there is an even more
urgent need to adapt to changes that are already under
way. Adaptation measures must be taken in several crucial
areas: food, energy, the environment and economic develop-
ment: all deserve top priority and commensurate funding.
The intergovernmental response has focused primarily
on mitigation of climate change, embracing wide-ranging
measures including reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
developing clean technologies and protecting forests. But
although these measures may slow climate change, they will
not halt or reverse it, and it will be two generations before
they begin to have an effect. Even if successful, we face a
considerably changed future climate.
People must be protected from the consequences of
global climate change through adaptation measures.
Decisions and policies for mitigation (reducing green-
house gas emissions, applying clean technologies and
protecting forests) and adaptation (such as expansion of
rain-water storage and water conservation practices) can
have profound consequences on water supply and demand.
Climate mitigation measures are not always benefcial for
water resources, while some water management policies can
even increase greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, many developed countries are shifting to
‘clean’ energy sources and away from thermal energy plants
based on fossil fuels. But there is evidence that hydroelectric
stations can generate large volumes of greenhouse gases
released from sediment and decaying organic matter at the
bottom of reservoirs. Even marginal land, for example that
used by pastoralists and subsistence agriculturalists in Africa,
is being targeted by developed countries for biofuel produc-
tion. Water resource implications, as well as climate change
impacts on these fragile ecosystems, must be fully taken into
account so that win–win scenarios can be developed.
The First African Water Week, convened in Tunis in March
2008, opened with a call for greater efforts to ensure water
security nationally and regionally. Donald Kaberuka, president
of the African Development Bank Group, emphasized that ‘it is
no longer acceptable that the African continent continues to
utilize only 4% of its water resources, when a huge proportion
of the people do not have access to safe water, and when
large populations are faced with frequent foods and drought,
in addition to food and energy shortages. Action is urgently
needed’ (WWDR-3, page 11).
3a Addressing water drivers is an inescapable
part of reducing vulnerability to climate
change and building resilience for adaptation
3b There has to be a balance between
mitigation and adaptation strategies so
that win–win solutions can be realized
Responses to climate change
must focus on water
SeCti oN 3
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limate change is expected to alter hydrologic
regimes (the pattern of precipitation, runoff, infltra-
tion and evaporation affecting a water body) and
the availability of freshwater, which will affect both rainfed
and irrigated agriculture. There is increasing likelihood of
reduced precipitation in semi-arid areas, more variable rain-
fall distribution, more frequent extreme events and rising
temperatures, especially in low latitudes. A severe reduc-
tion in river runoff and aquifer recharge is expected in the
Mediterranean basin and in the semi-arid areas of Southern
Africa, Australia and the Americas, affecting the availability
of water for all uses.
Agriculture is by far the largest consumer of freshwater.
Globally, about 70% of freshwater withdrawals go to irrigated
farming. Water scarcity may limit food production and supply,
putting pressure on food prices and increasing countries’
dependence on food imports. The number of countries and
regions without enough water to produce their food is rising
as populations increase.
Agriculture has a complex relationship with climate
change. On the one hand, it adds to global warming through
emissions of methane and other gases into the atmosphere.
To mitigate this, changes in land use practices (management
of cropland and grazing land) are considered to be the best
options. On the other hand, agriculture is also likely to be seri-
ously affected by climate change in different ways, depending
on geographical and other factors. Large areas of croplands,
in particular in semi-arid zones, will need to adapt to new
conditions with lower precipitation.
The projected increase in the frequency of droughts
and foods will affect the yield of crops and livestock.
Though its net effect on food production at the global level
is uncertain, climate change will alter the distribution of
agricultural potential. Most of the increase in cereal pro-
duction will be concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere,
while local production could be affected, especially in
subsistence sectors at low latitudes. Several densely popu-
lated farming systems in developing countries are at risk. A
combination of reduced base fows from rivers, increased
fooding and rising sea levels is expected to damage highly
productive irrigated systems that help maintain the stability
of cereal production. These production threats will be more
signifcant in alluvial plains dependent on glacier melt (e.g.
Colorado, or Punjab) and, in particular, in lowland deltas (the
Ganges and Nile).
In key areas of food insecurity dominated by rainfed agri-
culture (sub-Saharan Africa and peninsular India, in particular),
the expected reductions in production may have multiple
impacts including loss of livelihoods and displacement of rural
populations. This will accentuate demand in global markets and
put further pressure on irrigated production. In large irrigation
systems that rely on high mountain glaciers for water, such
as the Andes, Himalayas and Rocky Mountains, temperature
changes will cause high runoff periods to shift to earlier in the
spring, when irrigation water demand is still low. Such changes
could incite demand for new water-control infrastructure to
compensate for changes in river runoff. Elsewhere, current
farming and cropping systems may become unsustainable.
Adjusting to climate change is one amongst several major
challenges facing agriculture in the coming decades. Other
challenges include producing enough food and soft com-
modities to satisfy the growth of global populations, sharing
scarce water and land with other growing use sectors, and
acknowledging the ecological and environmental need for
water supply. The use of water is also being judged increas-
ingly by equity and effciency criteria. In short, major reforms
and changes in farmer behaviour are called for.
Technological improvements can occur at all levels and
affect all types of irrigation systems. These are not necessarily
new, expensive or sophisticated options, but rather ones that
are appropriate to needs and respond to actual demands.
They should also match the capacity of system managers
and farmers, and the resources available for proper opera-
tion and maintenance. Technological innovation is likely in
three broad categories:
1 At the irrigation system level: water level, fow control and
storage management within surface irrigation systems
on all scales.
2 On the farm: storage, reuse, water lifting (manual and
mechanical) and precision application technologies,
such as overhead sprinklers and localized irrigation.
3 Across sectors: multiple-use systems in rural areas and
urban agriculture with wastewater.
The situation can be remedied in many developing coun-
tries by investing in water infrastructure and by developing
markets, credit, agricultural technology and extension services.
Making national water policies more coherent is the basic aim
of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), a leading
paradigm used by those involved in determining water policy.
3c Agriculture is a primary area for development of adaptation strategies
3 Responses t o cl i mat e change must f ocus on wat er
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Climate Change and Water
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T
he threat of climate change has led to many devel-
opments in the simulation of atmospheric processes,
improving the accuracy of climate and weather fore-
casts. Combined with improved technology for monitoring,
collecting and analyzing information, these developments
should lead to improvements in warning systems for foods
and droughts and other major water-related events. If these
can be combined with hazard mitigation strategies involv-
ing all levels of affected communities, there are enormous
opportunities to avoid loss of human life and economic dam-
ages. Other examples of potential hazards becoming oppor-
tunities include using increased runoff from glacial melting to
develop more reliable water reserves. However, this solution
will only be temporary and viable as long as the glaciers
have not melted completely. In other countries, potential for
increasing the reliability of water supplies exists through the
use of food water storage to increase the reliability and to
improve foodplain management and planning.
Approaches to incorporating climate change information
in decision-making can be either direct or indirect. Direct
approaches incorporate climate change information into
decision-making – for example, climate scientists interacting
with partnering utilities to fnd space and time scales appro-
priate for adaptations to reduce the risk of climate extremes.
Indirect approaches involve potentially affected people in
studies of the readiness of societies to adapt to climate
change. Although the indirect approach has dominated to
date, the direct approach is likely to begin to predominate as
water managers and decision-makers become more serious
about adaptation to climate change.
Responses to the challenges of climate change are
likely to be specifc for each country or national region. The
NAPAs under the UNFCCC are still in their early phases and
much remains to be done, especially in the least developed
countries, to coordinate climate- and water-related policies
and actions. Bhutan is one example of a country that has
coordinated its national water and climate change adapta-
tion policies to meet short- and long-term threats of glacier
lake outburst foods resulting from climate change-induced
glacier melting. Another good example for policy integration
is Tunisia.
High-income countries are experiencing water manage-
ment problems that are very different from those of poor
countries. While high-income countries can afford to pay more
attention to the environment and to long-term water system
sustainability, developing countries prioritize eliminating pov-
erty and raising the overall level of health and well-being,
sometimes at the expense of environmental sustainability.
Confict situations regarding water usage between agricul-
ture and other demands will create additional challenges for
water managers and policy makers.
Given the uncertainties about climate change, decisions
on current problems should leave the way open for future
options. No-regrets strategies – actions that would signif-
cantly reduce the adverse impacts of change but would not
cause harm if projections of impacts of change are wrong
– are important in responding to climate change. In contrast,
failure to act carries risks because the situation may deterio-
rate if no action is taken.
Developed countries and developing countries must
work together to identify socioeconomic priorities and to
invest in and use water to power the engines of growth.
They must break cycles of poverty while avoiding the harm-
ful environmental and health consequences of unbridled
development experienced in many developed countries.
Cooperation between developed countries and developing
countries can build mitigation, adaptation, avoidance and no-
regret measures into decision-making, to avoid incurring the
costs of neglected environmental management later.
It will be important to work toward reducing uncertainty,
facilitate decision-making and accelerate investment by iden-
tifying the links between socioeconomic development, envi-
ronmental sustainability, water management capacity and
investments in water-related infrastructure and other sectors.
Options depend on social, economic and environmental
conditions, the availability of water over space and time, and
the threat of droughts and foods, all of which vary around
the world. Where water is scarce, the challenge is to select
the development path that attains the best social, eco-
nomic and environmental outcomes. Such decisions shift
the trade-offs away from water resources alone to broader
concerns of environmental, economic and social benefts.
Making decisions about water in this context can sometimes
introduce ineffciencies in other development activities. For
example, importing food rather than producing it domesti-
cally may permit water to be used for higher value outputs,
but many farmers will then need to fnd other ways to earn
a living.
3d There exist a variety of no-regrets solutions that will help address current and
possible future water-related vulnerability and generate multiplied development
benefits, regardless of climate scenarios
SeCti oN 3
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T
he imperatives of climate change have forced attention to criti-
cal issues of water resources management that need addressing,
regardless of global warming. In this respect, climate change could
be a blessing in disguise if it leads the more sustainable use of resourc-
es. Such management issues include improved observation networks,
increased integration of groundwater and surface water supplies (includ-
ing artifcial recharge), improved early warning and forecasting systems
for hazardous events, improved risk-based approaches to management,
and raising community awareness of sustainable water use and individual
responses to water-related hazards.
The decisions and policies that can be put in place today for mitiga-
tion (such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, applying clean tech-
nologies and protecting forests) and adaptation (such as expansion of
rainwater storage and water conservation practices) can have profound
consequences for water supply and demand, both today and over the
long term.
Public policy in response to global warming has so far been
dominated by mitigation. WWDR-3 argues for a more judicious balance
between mitigation and adaptation to a process of global warming that
appears already well under way. To safeguard the integrity of our water
resources, governments should commit to much more support for adap-
tation measures and increases in funding for these. Funding for adapta-
tion, part of which is derived from the proceeds of the Clean Development
Mechanism (CDM), should be increased for all water-related sectors
where adaptation is called for. Adaptation is a more urgent perspective for
African countries to take than mitigation initiatives. It is widely accepted
that Africa, even now, has much less storage relative to its needs for
food and drought alleviation than other regions. This need will increase
if, as expected, climatic conditions become more unstable in future. Africa
also has more scope than elsewhere to expand its irrigated area, though
upgrading its rainfed farming systems will also be vital to its adjustment.
Water resources must be viewed holistically, considering both their
natural state and the need to balance competing demands – domes-
tic, agricultural, industrial and environmental – to ensure sustainability.
Sustainable management of water resources requires systemic, inte-
grated decision-making that recognizes the interdependence of deci-
sions; scenarios are particularly helpful for this purpose.
Scenarios – which are sets of alternative futures – differ from fore-
casts, which are individual interpretations of a most probable future
based on extrapolation of the best available information. Scenarios are
not forecasts. Because the real world is so complex, forecasts are often
wrong, especially those involving a time horizon of 20 years or more.
Scenarios provide a means of looking beyond the water sector in search
for an adequate causal understanding of different water issues. Proper
scenario development and their use can contribute to several goals in the
pursuit of sustainable water resources.
Proactive adaptation requires
enabling policy conditions at
all levels: national, regional
and international
14
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Climate Change and Water
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The need for a long-term view
A long-term view of water for sustainable development
requires taking into account the slow unfolding of some
hydrologic, environmental and social processes and allow-
ing time for waterworks investments and water mitigation
schemes to yield results.
The need for perspective
Qualitative scenarios provide guidance, perspective and con-
text for computer models and sectoral studies, while models
and studies provide consistency and feasibility checks for
some elements of water scenarios, as well as numerical
estimates of the modeled variables. Further, global scenarios
provide a context for scenarios on a smaller geographic
scale (local, watershed, national or regional). Many important
changes in a river basin are determined by factors from out-
side the study area.
The need to make decisions in a context of high
uncertainty
Decision-makers in the water sector must often address
water management issues against a background of rapidly
changing environmental conditions and increasing uncertain-
ty. The uncertainty results from both a limited understanding
of human and ecological processes and the intrinsic indeter-
minism of complex dynamic systems. Water resources futures
depend on future human choices, which are unknown.
The need to include non-quantifable factors
The world’s water system includes, and is infuenced by,
many factors that are diffcult to quantify (such as cultural
and political variables and processes), as well as factors
that can be quantifed and modeled mathematically (such as
hydrologic and climatological dynamics and economic fac-
tors). Qualitative scenario analyses can provide insight into
these factors that simulation models cannot.
The need for integration and breadth
Water resources must be viewed holistically, considering
both their natural state and the need to balance competing
demands – domestic, agricultural, industrial and environmen-
tal – to ensure sustainability. Decisions on land use can affect
the availability and condition of water resources, while deci-
sions about water resources can also affect the environment
and land use. Decisions about economic and social futures
can affect hydrology and ecosystems. Meanwhile, decisions
at the international, national and local levels are all con-
nected. Sustainable management of water resources requires
systemic, integrated decision-making that recognizes the
interdependence of decisions; scenarios are particularly help-
ful for this purpose.
The need to organize understanding for decision-
making
Decision-makers may have diffculty identifying the elements
from different studies that are most relevant for their deci-
sions. Scenarios are developed with decision-making in mind.
They are constructed to focus attention on causal processes
and decision points, the unfolding of alternatives and the
branching points at which human actions can signifcantly
affect the future.
The need for an arena for conversation among
water stakeholders
Scenarios provide common frameworks for mapping and
highlighting critical concerns of diverse stakeholders and
identifying alternatives – setting the stage for discussions,
debates and negotiation.
SeCti oN 4
cop15 joana SW.indd 15 25/11/2009 09:53
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United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
T
he best mix of responses to a country’s development
objectives and policy priorities to meet its water chal-
lenges depends on the availability of water in space
and in time and the country’s technical, fnancial, institutional
and human capacities – its culture, political and regulatory
frameworks, and markets.
Within government, water use and management are
ultimately decided by the interaction of decision-makers in
the main socioeconomic sectors – health, education, agricul-
ture, housing, industry, energy, economic development and
environment.
Among the decisions that affect water the most are those
relating to how a country meets its objectives for energy and
food security, employment, disaster preparedness, environ-
mental sustainability and other societal goals. These decisions
are made in broader political frameworks and not by water
managers, who subsequently deal with their implications for
water and with other outcomes that touch on water.
Many countries face multiple challenges but have limited
fnancial and natural resources and implementation capaci-
ties. Countries need to fully use synergy opportunities and
to make trade-offs and diffcult decisions on how to allocate
water among uses and users to protect their water supply.
To achieve results, many actors need to participate in these
decisions.
For many years action on water that could deliver ben-
efts to the poor lacked government frameworks that priori-
tized poverty reduction and mobilization of fnancing. Today,
poverty reduction strategies still offer only the prospect of
aligning action on water with poverty reduction, as few cur-
rent poverty reduction strategies give anything but superfcial
attention to action on water.
As water scarcity increases so does the need for fnancial
investment to adapt to water supply variabilities, competi-
tion between different water usage demands is a growing
concern. Competition for water and weaknesses in managing
water to meet the needs of society and the environment call
for enhanced societal responses through improved water
resource management, better legislation and more effective
and transparent allocation mechanisms.
Challenges include wise planning for water resources;
evaluation of availability and needs in a watershed; possible
reallocation or storage expansion in existing reservoirs; more
4a At national level, water governance must be expanded to and integrated with non-
water sectors; access to technology, science and information should be increased
for sound planning; development efforts should be checked for what could be
maladaptations with regards to water
emphasis on water demand management; a better balance
between equity and effciency in water use; inadequate leg-
islative and institutional frameworks; and the rising fnancial
burden of ageing infrastructures.
Sectoral water resource strategies for adaptation to cli-
mate change that do not take holistic integrated approaches,
or competition between different sectors can lead to malad-
aptation that, in turn, may exacerbate current problems or give
rise to future issues. Maladaption is interpreted as actions or
processes that increase vulnerability to climate change-related
hazards. Maladaptive actions and processes often include
planned development policies and measures that deliver
short-term gains or economic benefts but lead to exacerbated
vulnerability in the medium to long-term (UNDP defnition).
A growing number of countries and cities are including
water-related adaptation into their planning, policy and insti-
tutional response to such predicted impacts as rising sea-
levels, more frequent droughts and increased precipitation.
Multisectoral water mainstreaming is essential for incor-
porating climate change risks and adaptation into developing
strategies. They apply at different levels:
1. National policies, programmes and priorities
Information about climate-related risk, vulnerability
and options for adaptation must be incorporated into
planning and decision-making in key sectors, such as
agriculture, water, health, disaster risk management
and coastal development. This information must also
be considered in existing national assessments and
action plans, including poverty reduction strategies and
priorities.
2. Development agency programmes and policies
Plans and priorities identifed in development cooperation
frameworks must incorporate climate change impacts
and vulnerability information to support development
outcomes (e.g., UNDP Country Cooperation Framework,
UN Common Country Assessment and UN Development
Assistance Framework).
Ideally, integration should become a systematic process
rather than a one-off process of utilizing climate
information in decisions (UNDP draft working defnition).
4 Proact i ve adapt at i on requi res enabl i ng pol i cy condi t i ons at al l l evel s
cop15 joana SW.indd 16 25/11/2009 09:53
Climate Change and Water
17
D
eveloping
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Figure 9.2 Three types of response to water scarcity and
competition
Source: Based on Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agricul-
ture 2007.
The integrated approach to dealing with water scarcity and
sectoral competition is illustrated in Figure 9.2 of the WWDR-3
(see opposite).
Conficts about water can occur at all scales. Local-level
conficts are commonplace in irrigation systems, where
farmers vie for limited resources. In Northern Thailand, for
example, low fows in the dry season are diverted by upland
farmers to irrigate their orchards, where use of pesticides
sometimes leads to the pollution of streams. Conficts also
occur at the scale of large national river basins (multistate
Indian rivers such as the Cauvery and the Krishna) or tran-
snational river basins (the Jordan and the Nile). While confict
resolution mechanisms and adequate modes of governance
will differ with scale, the nested nature of these scales also
means that the modes of governance will have to be consist-
ent and interrelated.
Sectoral conficts oppose users from different sectors
(domestic, hydropower, irrigation, industries, recreation and
so on), including ecosystems, those sustainability depends on
environmental fows. These conficts are both economic (the
return per cubic metre differs greatly across these uses) and
political (the social importance and the political clout of each
sector also varies).
Perhaps the most common confict is between agriculture
and cities. Half the world’s population lives in cities – and this
share is increasing – while agriculture is generally the larg-
est user of water. Moving water from agriculture to uses with
higher economic value is frequently proposed, for several rea-
sons. Agriculture gets by far the largest share of diverted water
resources and also consumes the most water through plant
evapo-transpiration. Cities are also thirsty. The value-added of
water in non-agricultural sectors is usually far higher than in
agriculture. This apparent misallocation is often attributed to
government failure to distribute water rationally. On the other
hand, much of the water used for agriculture ultimately serves
to feed the world’s ever-growing urban populations.
Dealing with risk and uncertainty has long been a routine
challenge for water resource managers and policy-makers
across sectors and the world. However, issues like climate
change and demographic dynamics have made the risks
greater and the task more complex. Risk management is now
much more important – indeed essential – to analysis and
decision-making.
Risk management encompasses more than managing
extremes such as foods and droughts. It entails the use of a
structured approach to manage uncertainty regarding these
events. Decision-makers must take into account multiple
uncertainties, including those associated with limited or low-
quality data and information and the inherent unpredictability
of climate and other environmental factors.
A promising approach for dealing with climate risk is
to integrate management of current climate variability and
extremes with measures towards adaptation to climate
change.
UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World,
Figure 9.2 (page 154)
SeCti oN 4
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United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
The responses to increased competition for water are
supply augmentation, conservation and reallocation (WWDR-3,
Figure 9.2). The most conventional response is to develop
new resources. For the state, this typically means building
new reservoirs or desalination plants or improving interbasin
transfer. For users, this means more wells or farm ponds
or gating drains to store water. Conserving water includes
increasing the effciency of use by reducing losses. Changes
in allocation to ease competition or to maximize water use are
based on economic, social, environmental or other criteria.
Augmentation is a supply management strategy, while conser-
vation and reallocation are demand management strategies,
roughly defned as ‘doing better with what we have.’
Water managers need reliable information about the
availability and use of water in all its aspects, which the
WWDR-3 aims to provide. Although the problems it describes
are not new, and have been expressed before, they have been
gathering force. The global crises that we now confront – in
energy, food, climate change, environment and economic
development – all involve water in different ways.
There are many practical examples of solutions within
the water domain. Some options show particular promise.
Preparing institutions to deal with current and future chal-
lenges requires support for institutional development through
such reforms as decentralization, stakeholder participation
and transparency, increased corporatization where feasi-
ble and fair, partnerships and coordination (public-private,
public-public, public-civil society), and new administrative
systems based on shared benefts of water, including when
water crosses borders. Decision-makers need to consider the
infuence of water law, both formal and customary, including
regulations in other sectors that infuence the management
of water resources.
Decision-making is improved by consulting with stakehold-
ers and ensuring accountability in planning, implementation
and management as well as building trust within the water and
related sectors and fghting corruption and mismanagement.
Strengthening organization structures and improving the oper-
ating effciency of water supply utilities will help to improve
service quality and increase the coverage and density of con-
nections, while also boosting revenues and creating a more
viable fnancial base to attract further investment. Innovation
and research are critical for developing appropriate solutions.
And greater institutional capacity and human capacity are
needed, both within the water domain and in areas or sectors
outside the water domain. Capacity development can occur
through traditional forms of education, on-the-job training,
e-learning, public awareness raising, knowledge management
and professional networks. Sound management accountability
and good governance within the water sector contribute to
creating a favourable investment climate.
Identifying trade-offs and synergies between water and
other policy sectors can enhance policy impacts in all sectors
and avoid some adverse effects on water. Because govern-
ments, civil society and business leaders make decisions
every day that can affect water, it is important to identify where
such decisions can also lead to improvements in water sector
management and in water sector and environmental services.
Examples of win-win situations abound – whether cre-
ated by governments, communities or businesses – that
point to promoting deliberate cooperation between water and
non-water actors and integrating water issues into external
decisions. International organizations, notably the UN system,
can provide support and expertise to governments, help civil
society build capacity and catalyze leadership in the private
sector.
Decision-making on water requires seeking synergies and
selecting appropriate tradeoffs. It also requires distinguishing
between short-term ‘fre-fghting’ – responding to the urgent
issues of the day – and long-term strategic development.
Developing multipurpose water schemes and reusing water
wherever feasible can lessen the need for trade-offs by ena-
bling the same volumes of scarce water to deliver multiple out-
comes. The donor community can incorporate water into the
broader frameworks of development aid and focus assistance
on areas where it is needed most – in sub-Saharan Africa, in
Asian and Latin American slums and in states recovering from
confict. Recent G-8 efforts in this direction are promising.
A nation’s water resources are used and managed most
effectively when they are linked to broader development
objectives. What are the objectives, for example, for feeding
the population, for providing power for industry, commerce
and households, for job creation and incomes, and for child
education and health? What are the relations between these
objectives, and water and water systems? How should water
be managed to achieve these objectives?
4 Proact i ve adapt at i on requi res enabl i ng pol i cy condi t i ons at al l l evel s
cop15 joana SW.indd 18 25/11/2009 09:53
Climate Change and Water
19
I
mproved networks for hydrologic data collection and moni-
toring can minimize uncertainties in forecasting and lessen
decision-making risk in several ways. Networks can provide
unrestricted access to better-quality information from improved
measurements (in terms of quantity, quality and timeliness) and
techniques and lead to improved model structures based on a
better understanding of physical processes and better math-
ematical representation and use of available information during
model identifcation and calibration.
The level of uncertainty for assessment and forecasting
varies, but is generally high in subtropical, tropical, polar and
mountainous regions. Networks also tend to be weak in develop-
ing countries, especially the least developed.
Despite its importance for the integrated management of
water quantity and quality and for understanding water-related
health hazards, no comprehensive information exists on the
regional or global extent of wastewater generation and treatment
or of receiving water quality. Even at the national level such infor-
mation is either inconsistently gathered or unavailable – partly
because of ill-defned data collection responsibilities that rest
with a multitude of national organizations and commercial entities
which rarely share their information.
A needs-based approach should form the basis of any
data-sharing policy. Many data-sharing protocols and agree-
ments already exist at the national, regional and global levels.
In transboundary basins, where lower riparian countries have a
disproportionally larger beneft from upstream observations, such
agreements could require downstream users to contribute more
to the maintenance and operation of upstream stations.
Managing the world’s water resources requires reliable data
on the state of the resource and how it is changing in response to
external drivers such as climate change and water and land use.
There is little sharing of hydrologic data, due largely to policy and
security issues; limited access to data; lack of agreed protocols
for sharing; and commercial considerations. This hampers regional
and global projects that rely on shared datasets for scientifc and
applications-oriented purposes, such as forecasting, seasonal
regional hydrologic outlooks, disaster warning and prevention, and
integrated water resources management in transboundary basins.
Although water is often described as a ‘gift of nature’, har-
nessing and managing it for the wide variety of human and eco-
logical needs entail fnancial costs. Governments still have only
three basic means of fnancing water resources development:
tariffs, taxes and transfers through external aid and philanthropy.
4b At regional level, collaborative water management for shared surface and groundwater
should be emphasized; there are numerous models for sharing water that provide equity
as well as rational management
WE, the Heads of State and Govern-
ment of the African Union, meeting
at the 11th Ordinary Session of our
Assembly in Sharm el-Sheikh, Arab
Republic of Egypt, from 30 June to
1 July 2008,
Recognizing the importance of water
and sanitation for social, economic and
environmental development of our
countries and Continent; . . .
Recognizing that water is and must re-
main a key to sustainable development
in Africa and that water supply and
sanitation are prerequisites for Africa’s
human capital development;
Concerned that there is an under-
utilization and uneven sharing of water
resources in Africa, and that remains a
growing challenge in the achievement
of food and energy securities. . . .
WE COMMIT OURSELVES TO:
(a) Increase our efforts to implement
our past declarations related to water
and sanitation.
(b) Raise the profle of sanitation by
addressing the gaps in the context of
the 2008 eThekwini Ministerial Declara-
tion on sanitation in Africa adopted by
[the African Ministers Council on Water].
(c) Address issues pertaining to agri-
cultural water use for food security as
provided for in the Ministerial Declara-
tion and outcomes of the frst African
Water Week.
And particularly;
(d) Develop and/or update national
water management policies, regulatory
frameworks, and programmes, and
prepare national strategies and action
plans for achieving the MDG targets
for water and sanitation over the next
seven (7) years;
(e) Create conducive environment to
enhance the effective engagement of
local authorities and the private sector;
(f) Ensure the equitable and sustainable
use, as well as promote integrated man-
agement and development, of national
and shared water resources in Africa;
(g) Build institutional and human re-
sources capacity at all levels including
the decentralized local government
level for programme implementation,
enhance information and knowledge
management as well as strengthen
monitoring and evaluation;
(h) Put in place adaptation measures to
improve the resilience of our countries
to the increasing threat of climate
change and variability to our water
resources and our capacity to meet the
water and sanitation targets;
(i) Signifcantly increase domestic fnan-
cial resources allocated for implement-
ing national and regional water and san-
itation development activities and call
upon Ministers of water and fnance to
develop appropriate investment plans;
(j) Develop local fnancial instruments
and markets for investments in the
water and sanitation sectors;
(k) Mobilize increased donor and other
fnancing for the water and sanitation
initiatives. . . .
Source: African Union 2008.
Box 1.1 Commitment of African heads of state to water as a
key to sustainable development
Regional cooperation and commitment to tackle climate
change impacts, mitigation and adaptation are of vital importance.
The African Heads of State Declaration on water as a key to sustain-
able development is a prime example of policy level understanding
of the challenges at the highest level (see Box 1.1 on page 7 of the
WWDR-3, reproduced below).
UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World,
Box 1.1 (page 7)
SeCti oN 4
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20
United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
benefts of all options after considering basin interconnect-
edness, relationships between land and water resources,
and the consistency and coherence of decisions with other
government policies.
Growth and changes in the global economy are having
far-reaching impacts on water resources and their use.
Growing international trade in goods and services can
aggravate water stress in some countries while relieving it
in others through fows of ‘virtual water’ (water embedded
in products and used in their production, particularly in the
form of imported agricultural commodities).
Policy-makers need to make political decisions on
socially and environmentally acceptable trade-offs among
different objectives, and on who bears the costs of such
compromise.
4c At international and global level, financing for water-related investments should be
increased, including for infrastructure, technology, and data collection and dissemination
T
he international community also has to balance invest-
ing for tomorrow’s likely problems of greater climate
variability and global warming against investing for
today’s problems of climate variability to prevent losses
from droughts and foods. While both are vital, focusing on
today’s problems can also create greater resilience for deal-
ing with tomorrow’s problems. The world faces major choices
in meeting the challenge of climate change and its potential
environmental and socioeconomic impacts. Public policy,
so far dominated by mitigation, could beneft from a better
balance between mitigation and adaptation. Figure 1.4 from
the WWDR-3 illustrates how water-related investments are
fnanced (see below).
Water management choices should emerge from
informed consultation and negotiation on the costs and
Investment
plans
Realistic finance
strategies
Ultimate sources
(filling the gap)
• Users and beneficiaries
• Public budgets
• External aid
Leveraging
• To fill the gap
• Increase users’
willingness to pay
(services, efficiency,
reforms)
• To bridge the gap
• Attract private
funds
• Integrate finance
packages
• Objectives
• Technology requirements
Costs
Pricing strategies
• Part of sustainable cost recovery
• Trade-offs: financial, social, economic, environmental
sustainability
• Leveraging effects: sources and skills
• Payment schemes? Leveraging beneficiaries’
willingness to pay
Financing mechanisms (bridging the gap)
• Payment schemes leveraging beneficiaries’
willingness to pay
• Attract funds and build appropriate finance packages
(cost of capital)
Maximizing contributions to sector sustainability by
different stakeholders, including the private sector
• Increase efficiency: reduce cost, reduce gap
• Improve service: increase users’ willingness to pay
• Clarify roles and provide stability: attract funds
• Elicit users’ needs: reduce cost/gap, increase
willingness to pay
Financial
needs/gap
Figure 1.4 Water investment requires a holistic approach – links between
pricing, fnancing and stakeholders
UN World Water
Development Report 3:
Water in a Changing World,
Figure 1.4 (page 9)
20
United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
4 Proact i ve adapt at i on requi res enabl i ng pol i cy condi t i ons at al l l evel s
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United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
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Climate Change and Water
21
Commitments have been made by the donor community
to increase assistance to the broad water sector, but this has
led mainly to an increase in allocations for water supply and
sanitation in dollar terms (although its share of total offcial
development assistance has stagnated at 4%). The percent-
age of total aid allocated to the water sector remains below
6% and has been declining.
Worldwide, water observation networks provide incom-
plete and incompatible data on water quantity and quality
for properly managing water resources and predicting future
needs – and these networks are in jeopardy of further decline.
Also, no comprehensive information exists on wastewater
generation and treatment and receiving water quality on a
regional or global scale.While new technologies based on
satellite remote sensing and modelling present opportunities,
their value is limited by our ability to ground truth and validate
the simulated information.
Improving water resources management requires invest-
ments in monitoring and more effcient use of existing data,
including traditional ground-based observations and newer
satellite-based data products. Most countries, developed
and developing, need to give greater attention and more
resources to monitoring, observations and continual assess-
ments of the status of water resources.
It is essential to take the cost of adapting to climate change
into account at all levels and ensure suffcient resources are
made available in particular to developing countries that
often bear the most devastating impacts of climate change.
Examples of estimates for the cost of adapting to climate
change are provided in Box 5.1 of the WWDR-3 (see below).
Estimates of the costs of climate change
impacts vary because they depend
on future greenhouse gas emissions,
mitigation measures and assumptions
about anthropogenic climate change it-
self and about how effectively countries
will adapt to it. The following are some
estimates of the costs of adaptation for
developing countries:
• World Bank estimates of the
additional costs to adapt or
climate-proof new investments
range from $9 to $41 billion a
year. And a recent update by the
United Nations Development
Programme put the mid-range of
the costs of adaptation at about
$37 billion a year in 2015.
• The United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change
estimates additional investments
for adaptation to climate change
at $28-$67 billion and as high as
$100 billion a year several dec-
ades from now. Estimates of the
additional investments needed
in water supply infrastructure in
2030 are $11 billion, 85% of it in
developing countries.
• Oxfam estimates the current costs
of adaptation to climate change
for all developing countries at
more than $50 billion a year.
While there is considerable debate
about these estimates, they provide
useful order-of-magnitude numbers
for assessing resources available for ad-
aptation. Current Global Environment
Facility funds (about $160 million) are
several orders of magnitude too little
to meet these projected needs.
Source: World Bank 2006; UNDP 2007;
UNFCCC 2007b; Oxfam 2007.
Box 5.1 The cost of adapting to climate change
UN World Water Development
Report 3: Water in a Changing
World, Box 5.1 (page 71)
SeCti oN 4
Climate Change and Water
21
4d At regional level, collaborative water management for shared surface and groundwater
should be emphasized; there are numerous models for sharing water that provide equity
as well as rational management
cop15 joana SW.indd 21 25/11/2009 09:53
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United Nations World Water Assessment Programme
Other hydrologic information – such as in-situ and
remotely sensed soil moisture and meteorological data
and information including precipitation, evaporation,
humidity, temperature and wind felds – needs to be
considered to complement hydrologic information
and to enhance the information content of hydrologic
data through integration in multivariate models and
predictions.
In data-sparse regions in particular, modelling approaches
need to be mainstreamed to generate model-derived
observation time series. A promising tool is the
reconstruction of hydroclimatic data by downscaling.
Datasets from the National Centers for Environmental
Prediction (NCEP) and National Center for Atmospheric
Research (NCAR) for 1948–2007 are a widely used
source. As observational gaps are often directly related
to defciencies in data transmission and communication,
this could be overcome to a large degree by connecting
offine operating stations to modern telecommunication
systems to increase spatial and temporal availability of
data from already existing stations. Making maximum
use of existing hydrologic observations requires more
effort to share hydrologic data and information on all
levels, including transboundary river basins and shared
aquifer systems.
At the High-Level Event on the MDGs at the UN in
September 2008, discussion focused on the need for new
adaptation strategies and for climate-resilient national devel-
opment plans, especially for the least developed countries:
linkages between fnancing for development and international
climate change fnancing were discussed. It was also agreed
that all countries, including donor countries, the UN system
and the Bretton Woods institutions, need to clarify the budget-
ary implications of adaptation; ensure that adequate fnance
mechanisms are in place; and help meet the additional costs
that climate-resilient development will entail.
A number of specifc recommendations affect all levels of
policy and be summarized as follows:
At the national, regional and global levels a minimum
requirements analysis of long-term, multipurpose
observational needs should be undertaken; a new
requirement is climate-relevant observations, including
those from pristine basins.
Financing of hydrologic networks, including operation
and maintenance, should be based on a multiple-source
strategy rather than on the prevailing single-source,
sector-specifc funding arrangements.
Integrated multiplatform network solutions that combine
in-situ and space-based observations and that are
affordable for developing countries should be promoted.
This would increase the number of observations over
space and time.
4 Proact i ve adapt at i on requi res enabl i ng pol i cy condi t i ons at al l l evel s
cop15 joana SW.indd 22 25/11/2009 09:53
Climate Change and Water
23
This Special Report presents an overview of messages on climate change from the World Water Development Report 3
(WWDR-3):
World Water Assessment Programme. 2009. The United Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a
Changing World. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, and London: Earthscan. www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/wwdr3/
Publications referred to in boxes and fgures reproduced from the WWDR-3:
African Union. 2008. Sharm El-Sheikh Commitments for Accelerating the Achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals
in Africa. Declaration I. Assembly of the African Union, Eleventh Ordinary Session, 30 June-1 July, Sharm el-Sheikh,
Egypt. www.africa-union.org/
Campbell-Lendrum, D., C. Corvalán, and M. Neira. 2007. Global Climate Change: Implications for International Public
Health Policy. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 85: 235-37.
Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture. 2007. Water for Food, Water for Life: A Com-
prehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture. London: Earthscan, and Colombo: International Water
Management Institute.
Haines, A., R. S. Kovats, D. Campbell- Lendrum, and C. Corvalan. 2006. Climate Change and Human Health: Impacts,
Vulnerability and Public Health. Public Health 120 (7): 585-96.
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 2008. Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water. IPCC-XXVIII/
Doc. 13, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Geneva. www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session28/doc13.pdf.
Mutagamba, Maria Lubega. 2008. The Role of Women within the Water Sector and the Importance of Gender Main-
streaming. The 5th World Water Forum Newsletter 4.
Stockholm Environment Institute. 2005. Sustainable Pathways to Attain the Millennium Development Goals: Assessing
the Key Role of Water, Energy and Sanitation. Stockholm: SEI.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertifcation. 2008. Desertifcation – Coping with Today’s Global Challenges.
Edited by Timothy Nater. Germany: Deutsche Gesellschaft für, Bonn. www.unccd.int/
References
REFERENCES
Climate Change and Water – An Overview from the World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World
A United Nations World Water Assessment Programme Special Report
©2009 UNESCO-WWAP
This World Water Assessment Programme
Special Report brings together messages on
water and climate change from the World Water
Development Report 3: Water in a Changing
World, the foremost United Nations report on
the state of the world’s freshwater resources.
Coordinated by the World Water Assessment
Programme, the World Water Development Report is
a joint efort of the 26 United Nations agencies and
entities that make up UN-Water, working in partnership
with governments, international organizations, non-
governmental organizations and other stakeholders.
It ofers a comprehensive review of the state of the
world’s freshwater resources and provides decision-
makers with the tools to implement sustainable use
of our water. The report, published every three years,
represents a mechanism for monitoring changes
in water resources and management and tracking
progress towards achieving international development
targets. it ofers best practices as well as in-depth
theoretical analyses to help stimulate ideas and
actions for better stewardship in the water sector.
The third edition of the report, Water in a Changing
World is presented together with a case-study volume,
Facing the Challenges. Adopting the premise that local
actions and on-the-groun insights are the starting point
of a global strategy to improve management of the
world’s freshwater resources, these twenty case studies
from around the world examine water challenges and
difering managment approaches taken in response.
The United Nations World Water Development Report 3:
Water in a Changing World
WATER A
N
D
Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER
AN OVERVIEW FROM THE WORLD WATER DEVELOPMENT REPORT 3: WATER IN A CHANGING WORLD

A WORLD WATER ASSESSMENT PROGRAMME SPECIAL REPORT

The World Water Assessment Programme is most grateful to Joana Talafre and Friederike Knabe for their valued contributions to the preparation of this report

Published by the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme Programme Office for Global Water Assessment Division of Water Sciences, UNESCO 06134 Colombella, Perugia, Italy Tel.:+ 39 075 591 10 11 Fax: + 39 075 591 33 23 / + 39 075 691 96 67

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© UNESCO-WWAP 2009 Printed in France

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Adaptation to climate change will demand a firm commitment from leaders in government. Olcay Ünver World Water Assessment Programme Coordinator United Nations Educational. water is a measure of its impacts. through it. more efficient management systems more effective and less costly. Water in a Changing World describes the dynamic linkages that interconnect changes in climate. With the world facing growing water challenges in many regions. A joint effort of the 26 United Nations agencies that make up UN-Water. all of them compounded by climate change. some impacts from climate change are unavoidable. it argues that a holistic approach is crucial if we are to solve the crises we face today and avoid worse crises tomorrow. Carbon is a measure of the anthropogenic causes of climate change. food and energy shortages. with the challenges of climate change currently being squarely addressed and innovative responses sought with such enthusiasm. more extreme weather events and the potential for large population migration. the blunt reality is that all countries must also adapt to climate change – particularly developing countries. While mitigation of anthropogenic climate change is vital. a major source of urban and regional water supply systems. Rather than addressing these issues in isolation. if we are to rise to the challenges of climate change to ensure long-term economic. These two principle messages of the report could not be timelier. and higher water temperatures and changes in extremes can exacerbate many forms of water pollution. and act together. how climate change will affect future societies cannot be understood without looking at its impact on this most vital of our planet’s resources. health. and the continuing challenge of poverty. which are often especially vulnerable to climate change and many of which will be hit hardest and earliest. We must act now. agriculture. environmental and social sustainability and avert a global water crisis. The international community will have to balance investments to reduce risks and to prepare for increasingly severe climate events against investments to improve responses to the crises already being experienced today. and ensuring the infrastructure investment necessary for long-term water security. But policy choices and other decisions made outside the water domain are also crucial if we are to change and improve how water is allocated and used. These include increasing water stress in many regions. Both are vital. yet many countries are already facing multiple water challenges. as well as making the adaptation to new. Water in a Changing World shows that changes in our water resources are shaped to a great extent by a number of key externalities. It can lead to both floods and drought. the state of our water resources. the quantity and quality of water resources available to meet human and environmental demands. Public policy on key water services and functions must prioritize a strengthening of competencies and institutions. and that decisions taken far from the conventionally defined water sector have a tremendous influence on water resources and how they are used or misused. energy and aquatic ecosystems – all will feel the impact of these changes to the water cycle. The demand for water to meet these needs is also affected by climate change. Even if greenhouse gas concentrations stabilize in the coming years. the triennial World Water Development Report is the United Nations’ foremost and most comprehensive review of the state of the world’s freshwater resources. and focusing on today’s problems can also create greater resilience for dealing with the problems of tomorrow. This World Water Assessment Programme Special Report brings together messages on water and climate change from the World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. private sector and civil society worldwide. demographic expansion and migration issues.Foreword Water is an integral component of climate change and the primary medium through which it exhibits its impacts. Water supply reliability. Scientific and Cultural Organization . among them climate change. Rising sea levels have a serious effect on coastal aquifers. Climate change directly affects the water cycle and. The importance of water to sustainable social and economic development cannot be underestimated.

Responses to climate change must focus on water 3a. adaptation strategies are needed urgently 2b. At international and global level. financing for water-related investments should be increased. access to technology. collaborative water management for shared surface and groundwater should be emphasized. collaborative water management for shared surface and groundwater should be emphasized. there are numerous models for sharing water that provide equity as well as rational management 4c. having an undeniable effect on development progress and achievement of MDGs. Proactive adaptation requires enabling policy conditions at all levels: national. At regional level. there are numerous models for sharing water that provide equity as well as rational management Key references page 23 ii United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . At national level. Direct ways in which climate change impacts the water cycle: effects on precipitation and evaporation cycles 1b. science and information should be increased for sound planning. Addressing water drivers is an inescapable part of reducing vulnerability to climate change and building resilience for adaptation 3b. Water availability and poor water management are at the root of vulnerability for many countries already and this is likely to increase with future climate changes. development efforts should be checked for what could be maladaptations with regards to water 4b. energy.Contents Foreword by Olcay Ünver. Possible futures for climate and water page 4 3. Water-related vulnerability occurs through multiple. technology. Agriculture is a primary area for development of adaptation strategies page 10 4. Coordinator of the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme page i Synopsis 1. including for infrastructure. At regional level. Indirect effects of climate change on the water cycle: migration and changing patterns of consumption page 1 page 2 2. There has to be a balance between mitigation and adaptation strategies so that win–win solutions can be realized 3c. mutually-reinforcing linkages: health. water governance must be expanded to and integrated with non-water sectors. Climate change has undeniable impacts on water 1a. Water is at the root of a complex vulnerability dynamic 2a. food. in addition to physical and economic vulnerabilities 2c. and data collection and dissemination page 14 4d. regional and international 4a.

water availability and management are already at the root of a complex vulnerability dynamic and challenges are likely to increase with climate change. non-water sectors. as well as rational management. At regional levels. Addressing water resource management is recognized as a priority. There exist a variety of ‘no-regrets’ solutions that will help address current and possible future water-related vulnerability and generate multiple development benefits. science and information should be increased for sound planning. C limate change has undeniable impacts on water. access to technology. At the international and global level. mutually-reinforcing linkages: food. Climate change is experienced most directly through its impacts on water availability. regardless of climate scenarios. and development efforts need to be checked for what could be maladaptations with regards to water. and integrated with. or different sectors of activity. It is vital that responses to climate change must focus on water. Holistic and multisectoral approaches have to be taken when developing adaptation strategies. health and energy. It has and will continue to impact the water cycle in direct and indirect ways: by affecting precipitations and evaporation cycles. collaborative water management for shared surface and groundwater should be emphasized. as the sector requiring the largest percentage of water resources. Competition for water is intensifying: between countries. urban and rural areas. thereby having an undeniable effect on development progress and achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). and is an inescapable part of reducing vulnerability and promoting adaptation to climate change. The effects of climate change are likely to aggravate this situation even further. especially developing countries. Proactive adaptation requires enabling policy conditions at all levels: At national levels. In turn. as well as by changing patterns of consumption. technology. in addition to physical and economic vulnerabilities. water governance must be expanded to. This could make water an increasingly politicized issue. financing for water-related investments should be increased. A balance between mitigation and adaptation strategies has to be established at policy and programme levels so that ‘win-win’ solutions can be realized. For many countries.Synopsis economic development will increase demands on water supply. including for infrastructure. as their present water resource management technologies and capacities are inadequate and insufficient. Agriculture. There exist numerous models for sharing water that provide equity. Water-related vulnerabilities occur through multiple. Some countries are already experiencing serious water shortages or are reaching the limits of their water resources. evolving consumption patterns and Climate Change and Water 1 . Least developed countries are the most vulnerable. is a primary area for development of adaptation strategies.

land use and survival of plant and animal species. impact on climate change. The coping mechanisms used by those living with regular cycles of water scarcity are likely to become obsolete or no longer adaptive to new and changing environmental conditions. wetlands and reservoirs. magnitude and duration of rainfall and other weather events. Climate change is the fundamental driver of change in the world’s water resources and adds additional stress through its effects on other externalities. C limate change directly affects the water cycle. take climate change into account. semi-arid and arid regions) that are threatened by land degradation and desertification. This has a direct impact on a quarter of a billion people. in the surface water of lakes. sub-humid. Rainfall that exceeds the carrying capacity of the water channels can also cause flooding. manage the interaction between human demands (demand-side drivers) on our water supply and naturally occurring changes in climate patterns. Already today. thermal plant cooling and navigation. energy production (hydropower). which are increasingly intensified through climate change. environment. We can and must. in storage in soil moisture and groundwater. glaciers and seasonal snow packs. Changes in water cycles will threaten the survival of fragile ecosystems in these regions. These demand-side drivers include economic. flora and fauna. Direct impacts of climate change on the water cycle could mean that some regions will become dryer and turn into arid and semi-arid regions. Water is the primary medium through which climate change impacts the earth’s ecosystem and people. as a result will be further threatened. How we manage these ‘demand drivers’ will affect climate change.e. and consequently endanger the lives of people who depend on the natural resources that these ecosystems provide. and in precipitation. Climate change is usually described as the supply-side ‘driver’ that will ultimately determine how much water we have available. the quantity and quality of water resources. sustainable economic growth and the functioning of ecosystems: but the water supply is finite. and an indirect impact on more than a billion people (UNCCD  2008). make water unique among our planet’s natural resources. or even deserts. Other regions will experience dramatic increases in disasters. Human activities affect demand on the world’s water supply. therefore. Water is essential to life. We have learned to adapt to the realities of our given 2 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . Climate change could alter the timing. such as floods caused by typhoons and hurricanes. Climate change also creates variations in water storage and fluxes at the land surface. 1a Direct ways in which climate change impacts the water cycle: effects on precipitation and evaporation cycles affecting water availability and quality for drinking water. All evidence shows that climate variabilities have increased to such a degree that predictability of water availability has been reduced dramatically: weather extremes are shifting and intensifying. Changing water cycles caused by climate change will affect food production. runoff and evaporative fluxes to and from the land surface. yet our requirements for water to meet our fundamental needs and our collective pursuit of higher living standards. threaten the infrastructure of water systems and endanger ecosystems. as it adds to uncertainty and unpredictability in the water supply. It can lower minimum flows in rivers.1 Climate change has undeniable impacts on water There is evidence that the global climate is changing. more than 40% of the world’s land resources are in drylands (i. social and demographic pressures – all affected by a range of factors from technological innovation to institutional and financial conditions. Local biodiversity. essential for ecosystem survival. therefore. and thereby introducing greater uncertainty in the quantity and quality of our water supplies over the short and the long term. The development of water management strategies must. H uman societies have always lived with uncertainty and variability in climate. and through it. which in turn. coupled with the need for water to sustain our planet’s ecosystems.

Paris: UNESCO Publishing. These external forces. As incomes grow. to worsen. nor the amount of finance being invested in water management and infrastructure. it is difficult to estimate the magnitude of potential migration as a result of environmental factors (WWDR-3. because it reduces the predictability of water resources available to fulfil the other societal and economic demands. The concept of ‘virtual water’ has been introduced to reflect the indirect use of water that leaves a country in exports and enters another through imports as integral part of goods that use water for production. Other external forces that may create either positive or negative pressures on water resources include pricing policies and subsidies for water and water-related goods.1 Changing consumption patterns While climate change is clearly the supply-side driver affecting the availability of water resources. desertification and other forms of water scarcity are already estimated to affect as many as one-third of the world’s people and are predicted tens of millions of people moving from one meal to two meals a day and/or to produce the increasing amount of meat that may be included in their diets. and politics at global and national levels. Managing water resources is made more difficult by a lack of knowledge and information required for decisionmaking and long-term planning. The UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World (WWDR-3) estimates the potential of environmentally displaced people (likely displaced as a result of water-related factors) to be in the range of 24 million to almost 700 million. Climate Change and Water 3 . affecting consumption and migration patterns in many parts of the world. unlike climate change. with further development. consumption patterns. In addition. social movements. will not create pressures directly (or only) on water management. Climate change complicates these uncertainties. Migration The direct supply-side effects of climate change outlined previously. adding to pressures on the quantity and quality of water resources. 2009. trade patterns. have the potential to accelerate human migration.SeCtioN 1 1b Indirect effects of climate change on the water cycle: migration and changing patterns of consumption D rought. such as water resources. large amounts of water are used to produce and process non-food goods and services (virtual water content). nor the quantity and quality of water that is available. As countries develop. Such migration would seriously impact development projects designed to relieve future stresses on water availability. including increased water scarcity. is that people rely directly or indirectly on the natural environment for their livelihoods. Rural-urban migration and migration in response to political conflict and environmental crises are other growing demographic drivers affecting water resources and allocations. for instance. people consume more – and thus more water will be needed. Part of the complexity in unravelling the connection between migration and environmental factors. accelerated glacial melting and rising sea levels. development policies and political and economic stability – or the lack thereof – can affect both migration and water resources. and London: Earthscan. The United Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. human demands also interact with climate change to exacerbate the pressures on the water supply. consumption choices in the wake of rising per capita incomes. Few countries know how much water is being used. Given these complexities. for what purposes. to produce food for 1 WWDR-3: World Water Assessment Programme. Whereas in developed countries consumers and corporations are increasingly being encouraged to reduce their water footprints. many of which have a large ecological and water footprint. developments in science and technology. flooding. evolution of policies and laws. Few know how much water can be withdrawn without serious environmental consequences. page 32). rising standards of living also boost the demand for non-food items and services. But climate change will exacerbate the uncertainty surrounding all these development drivers. Currently the most important demand-side pressures on water arise from population growth in the early stages of a country’s development and.

There is clear evidence of a relationship between climate variability and economic performance in countries in which agriculture represents a large share of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Evidence also suggests Water and the Millennium Development Goals The Millennium Goals include the following water-related targets: ‘To halve. Across developing countries. to halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water. causing human suffering and disrupting economic activities. water basin interconnectedness. agriculture investments and water management plans of these countries. by the same date. better legislation. Good water management is normally the precondition of sustainable development. emergency assistance. Climate variability. the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and. such as floods and droughts.’ a strong relationship between economic development and vulnerability to disaster. and more effective and transparent allocation mechanisms. WWDR-3 argues that the availability of water and the skill with which it is managed are determinants of a country’s growth trajectory. losses associated with disasters are so large as to undermine development and poverty reduction goals.2 Water is at the root of a complex vulnerability dynamic Water resource management impacts almost all aspects of the economy. Poorly managed climate risks also discourage private investment. reconstruction and rehabilitation. Competition for water and shortcomings in managing water supply systems to meet the needs of society and the environment call for enhanced societal responses through improved management. 4 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . Weather-related disasters. industry and environmental sustainability. in particular. There are abundant examples of how water has contributed to economic development and how development has demanded increased harnessing of water. health. and the consistency and coherence of decisions with other government policies. Such benefits have come at a cost and. food production and security. in some places. domestic water supply and sanitation. H istory shows a strong link between economic development and water resources development.’ ‘To stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources by developing water management strategies at the regional. Vulnerability to natural disasters affecting the water supply hampers economic performance and undermines poverty reduction goals and achievement of the MDGs. Yet climate risks are seldom adequately considered in infrastructure designs. The ensuing challenges will be of particular importance and concern in sub-Saharan Africa and other Least Developed Countries (LDCs) where rainfed farming systems are reliant on more or less predictable weather patterns. or of the donor community. energy. Water management choices should emerge from informed consultation and negotiation on the costs and benefits of all options after considering relationships between land and water resources. by the year 2015. are undermining economic development in many of the world’s least developed countries. have led to increasing pressure on the environment and increasing competition among users. Substantial financial and other development resources are being diverted each year to post-disaster relief. national and local levels. water resource management and economic development are intricately linked. which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies.

climate change can intensify existing pressures. they will have to introduce changes in their farming systems to ensure continued food security and nutrition levels. Given the vital economic importance of rainfed farming for many developing countries. In poor communities where survival is the main concern. others. Comprehensive climate information that allows for increasingly reliable projections will be vital for the development of any adaptation strategy. Scarcity – low available water per capita – is forecast to worsen where population growth is still high. These variations matter most where they affect large populations or where the infrastructure cannot adequately handle the distribution of water resources and other necessities. national and global levels. energy security and land use. The contribution of improved drinking water and sanitation to the achievement of all the MDGs is now well established. Adaptation capacity will vary from country to country. large regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Climate uncertainty – the inability to anticipate climate extremes – also discourages investment and innovation. the scale of the challenge remains massive. but will also increase the adaptation potential for impending and future climate changes. The WWDR-3 demonstrates this link throughout. Some suffer from both low and extreme rainfalls. Climate change and variability will affect the poorest and most marginalized groups. such as North Africa. Some parts of the world have no shortage of water. Climate change will increase the vulnerability of water supplies and underscore the importance of the targets at local. Climate Change and Water 5 . energy and sanitation’. particularly the poor. Adaptation capacity within countries will depend on a range of preconditions. Stockholm Environment Institute. Aug 2005. should not preclude or delay action now. and loss of top soil and crops in the process. in particular in sub-Saharan Africa and low-income Arab states. such as Mozambique and the United States. The rainfalls while other parts may suffer prolonged drought. the sanitation target is far from being met. develop alternatives and bring trade-offs to the forefront in decision-making. the effects of incremental climate change are likely to influence decisions about food security. particularly for developing countries and for cities in coastal areas. having an undeniable effect on development progress and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. to the impacts of extreme hydrologic events such as floods. at different times. people may have few choices about how they use land and water. making them even more vulnerable. widespread poverty. upgrading farming systems will form a major part of the response to the growth in demand for food and the reduction of hunger as part of the MDGs. Large regions of the world. But while adequate progress is being made globally towards the provision of safe drinking water. the Middle East and Australia. are far from reaching the global target. Despite progress. especially among their vulnerable populations. Over the longer term. high population growth and rapid urbanization. leading to high variations in river runoff levels. making these a target of Millennium Development Goal 7. One of the most pressing challenges of climate change is addressing the vulnerability of human populations. with developing countries having the most urgent need for adaptation strategies to be developed and/or strengthened. all with vital implications for water resource management and environmental sustainability. Lack of detailed climate knowledge. Building adaptive capacity and tackling current conditions will not only alleviate existing problems. South Asia and parts of South America and the Middle East. such as in some of the LDC countries. Climate models show that extremes of rainfall are likely to worsen. According to one estimate.SeCtioN 2 2a Water availability and poor water management are at the root of vulnerability for many countries already and this is likely to increase with future climate changes. poverty reduction and equity – all crucial for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). thereby increasing risk. South-East Asia and South America. Many regions suffer from seasonal scarcity or from extreme seasonal rainfall. vulnerability and uncertainty. others have elaborated the direct and indirect contributions of water management across all the MDGs. land degradation. Governments and societies cannot cope well with existing climate variabilities. and parts of South Asia. parts of the country may experience damaging intensive P roperly managing water resources is essential to socioeconomic development. causing floods. adaptation strategies are needed urgently Millennium Declaration placed safe drinking water and basic sanitation firmly among development objectives. while some risk backsliding. suffer scarcity because of low annual rainfall. however. the perceived risks of alternatives could outweigh their potential benefits. including awareness and appreciation of climate information and of the investment potential for adaptation strategies. 85% of the freshwater required to meet the hunger goal will originate from rainfed agriculture. storm surges and droughts. Adapting to climate change adds a critical challenge to this picture for all countries. and dampens the effectiveness of development efforts. as in sub-Saharan Africa. In this context. This must be done in concert with the creation of sustainable and resilient development opportunities that take into account projected climate conditions. resulting in more floods and droughts in regions already affected – often regions with low-income levels per capita. 2 ‘Sustainable pathways to attain the Millennium Development Goals: assessing the key role of water. This is why the most successful integrated rural development initiatives are taking a holistic approach and are designed to help such communities reduce risks. thereby weakening already fragile ecosystems while increasing food insecurity and poverty.2 In some large countries. Given that agricultural societies are especially vulnerable to climate change.

such as growth of population and damage potential. The overall balance of impacts on health is likely to be negative. Global warming can expand the endemic zones of water-related infectious diseases.10 (page 19) UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World.3 on page 38 of the WWDR-3. making it increasingly difficult for people to remain in affected areas. Current water management practices may not be robust enough to cope with the impacts of climate change on water supply reliability. Climatic and non-climatic factors. fewer cold-related illnesses.3 (page 73) 6 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . would be an essential part of any effective response. The IPCC report notes that millions of people in densely populated low-lying coastal areas risk increasing exposure to flooding by storm surges over the 21st century. food. UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. water should be at the apex of adaptation efforts. While policy makers appear motivated to respond to the impacts of future climate change. Already disadvantaged through gender inequity and a higher level of poverty. energy and aquatic ecosystems. Source: Haines et al. health. water and sanitation services. mutually-reinforcing linkages: health. development is threatened in many regions by factors that given national governments and the international community have already failed to address time and again as regards current climate variabilities. reproduced below). water management cannot satisfactorily cope even with current climate variability. As a first step.3 Health and climate change Climate change can affect health through multiple pathways. Changes in water availability will have economy-wide impacts. and populations in low-income countries are likely to be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects. they are less inclined and unmotivated to act on the water crises that are evident today. Box 5. In many locations. Strengthening public health prevention strategies. would exacerbate problems in the future (very high confidence). Health Every year in developing countries an estimated 3 million people die prematurely from water-related diseases. An increased involvement by women in awareness raising and decision-making is of vital importance. including improving water supply and sanitation services and disease surveillance. if not managed effectively. flood risk. Even without climate change. in addition to physical and economic vulnerabilities T he water situation and the vulnerability of poor communities present a strong case for urgent actions on climate change. Corvelan and Neira 2007. changes in the distribution of vectorborne diseases and effects on the risk of disasters and malnutrition. many of the projected impacts of climate change on health are avoidable. All of these climate-change refugees will require shelter. improved incorporation of information about current climate variability into waterrelated management would assist adaptation to longerterm climate change impacts. as explained in Box 2. Campbell-Lendrum. 2006. like dengue. could Box 1. energy. Current IPCC projections of rising temperatures and sea levels and increased intensity of droughts and storms suggest that substantial population Gender Women in developing countries and fragile ecosystems face multiple challenges. social and environmental conditions. such as greater frequency and intensity of heat waves. However. followed by women from poor rural families who lack access to safe water and improved sanitation. Source: IPCC 2008. Climate change is expected to exacerbate some health problems rather than cause new diseases to emerge. increased floods and droughts. agriculture. and quality that could have disastrous consequences. The April 2008 report on water by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) points this out clearly (see Box 1. Projections warn of changes in water availability displacements will take place within the next 30–50 years.2 Water is at the root of a complex vulnerability dynamic 2b Water-related vulnerability occurs through multiple. Such trends are already noticeable today. so that large flood and drought damages occur. particularly in coastal zones. Recurring floods or storm surges. As the principal medium through which climate change will affect economic. The largest proportion of these deaths is among infants and young children. Box 1.10 on page 73 of the WWDR-3. malaria and schistosomiasis.10 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Technical Report on Water and Climate Change Box 5. women are more dependent on reliable water resources in their vicinity because of their role in food production and family responsibility.

about 70% of freshwater withdrawals go to irrigated farming. pump it through pipes and treat both groundwater and wastewater. cleaning and washing. increased costs of crucial inputs such as fertilizers (driven by energy prices). including legislation. Source: Adapted from Mutagamba 2008. In general. In the water sector women labour to provide water for household needs while men make decisions about water resources management and development at both the local and national levels. water scarcity can limit food production and supply. women spend considerable time collecting water at the expense of income-generating activities. all of which are exacerbated by market speculation in trade practices. An estimated 7% of all energy produced is used for such purposes. which has potentially important impacts on water quality and availability. credit. In addition. energy is required to lift groundwater. transport it home and store it until it is used for cooking. Consequently. human and social capital assets. The problem has been compounded by the rising demand for food caused by growing populations and shifting diets. more girls attending school and increased income opportunities for women. But although the number of Energy Demand for energy – for heat. Water for cooling is needed for all thermal sources of power. monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes and therefore help to achieve sustainable water provision for all. production shortfalls. incentives to produce bioenergy. light.3 on page 73 of the WWDR-3. The effect of climate change on health is discussed in Box 5. Box 2. Hydropower may be a renewable and non-polluting source of energy in some countries. Women draw water for household use. the situation can be remedied in many developing countries by investing in water infrastructure. Globally. The immediate action by water sector participants is to ensure gender mainstreaming in any planned action. At the same time. countries and regions without enough water to produce their food is rising as populations increase. implementation.3 (page 38) Climate Change and Water 7 . causing severe illness or even death. water withdrawn for cooling (39%) is equal to the share of water use in agriculture. The combination of high prices and a desire to substitute other sources of fuel led to the recent increase in the production of bioenergy. although on a global scale this demand is marginal. better health for the community. resulting in refugee movements and migration. policies and programmes in all areas and at all levels. In areas of low water coverage women collect water from drains. markets. This also exposes them to sexual abuse and other forms of violence and leaves less time for girls to attend school. Investment in water infrastructure is required to meet basic needs in rural areas and to enhance agricultural productivity through better water management. In the United States. Box 2. greater privacy and dignity for women. the core components of poverty (capability. Rurally based populations in countries that rely on rainfed agriculture and primarily depend on subsistence farming systems are especially vulnerable. The recent steep rise in food prices has damaged many foodimporting countries. Increased demand for water through desalination may increase energy demand in some countries. ditches or streams that are often infected with pathogens and bacteria. Current climate variabilities already present serious challenges for food security in many developing countries. power and transportation – is increasing rapidly. In most developing countries gender inequity persists in access to and control of a range of productive. and far greater volumes of water are used in rainfed agriculture.3 The role of women within the water sector & the importance of gender mainstreaming Lessons from Africa and the rest of the world have demonstrated that increased participation by women in decisionmaking leads to better operation and maintenance of water facilities. putting pressure on food prices and increasing countries’ dependence on food imports. opportunity. Food Agriculture is by far the largest consumer of freshwater. This will ensure that the voices of marginalized and disadvantaged women and men are integrated in design.SeCtioN 2 drive large numbers of people permanently from their homes. agricultural technology and extension services. including nuclear. security and empowerment) differ along gender lines. UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World.

Jordan and Thailand. decades. When limits are reached and improved efficiency and demand management possibilities are exhausted. as in Ethiopia and Tanzania. the costs of failures to invest. and how we manage water can affect the climate. its potential will gradually be exhausted and its costs will spiral upwards. improved incorporation of information about current climate variability into water-related management would assist countries towards adaptation to longer-term climate change impacts. the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates potential socio-economic returns of between US$3-$34. There is a strong case that improved coverage of drinking water and sanitation contributes to economic growth.3 Evidence further shows the direct relation between macroeconomic returns to investments in water management. depending on the region and technology. 8 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . energy and aquatic ecosystems. flood risk. agriculture. Such adaptation measures must address several fundamental aspects: food. secondary sources (such as treated irrigation drainage) and the mining of fossil (non-renewable) aquifers. the damage cost of environmental degradation in the Middle East and North Africa has been estimated at some US$9 billion a year. The massive transfer of water now under way in China (from the Yangtze River to the Yellow River) is being emulated in Brazil. such as farm ponds in Asia or wells. Countries rarely resort to all three options at once. Conversely. In the United States the costs have been estimated at more than $60 billion and continue to rise as more becomes known. Athens. While this trend is likely to continue. and the potential for net water savings at the basin level is often overstated. Policies and practices for mitigating climate change or adapting to it will have impacts on water resources. Other small-scale options. health. resources must be reallocated from one source to another. They deserve top priority and commensurate funding. Because of reuse of water in basins and users’ adjustments to scarcity. have also been widely developed. energy. as well as overall economic development. social and environmental costs. fully developed basins or aquifers tend to have much less ‘slack’ than is often thought. there are often no win-win solutions to meet additional demands. but its cost is likely to remain high (though it is decreasing) and its use limited to urban supply. or 2. will exacerbate these problems in the future. When water resources of acceptable quality can no longer be provided in sustainable quantities. rather. The ultimate losers are the exploited aquatic ecosystems and the organisms (including humans) dependent on them for survival and well-being. Kathmandu. resulting in large flood and drought damages. transfers between basins have become more frequent. Climate change is one of a number of serious threats that have to be met by global society in coming Supply augmentation Supply augmentation is typically constrained by the availability of storage sites. With needs outstripping available stocks in many basins. There is clear evidence of a relationship between climate variability and economic performance in countries in which agriculture is a large share of GDP.2 Water is at the root of a complex vulnerability dynamic 2c Possible futures for climate and water T he IPCC contends that current water management practices may not be robust enough to cope with the impacts of climate change on water supply reliability.4% of GDP. the outcome can lead to overexploitation of aquatic ecosystems. Bangkok. and conversely. Desalination is an option in specific locations (islands and coastal cities). water management cannot even satisfactorily cope with current climate variability. unless pressure over the resource is severe. These demand management options are discussed in more detail in the following section. such as population growth and damage potential. environment. Los Angeles and Mexico City are procuring water further afield. As a first step. For example. Investment in water Investment in water is an inseparable part of sustainable economic development. In many locations. Climatic and non-climatic factors.1%–7. for each $1 invested in safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Industrial countries are learning the enormous costs associated with restoring essential ecosystems. Amman. as in Tunisia. India. Environmental degradation from water pollution and excessive withdrawals also has negative economic impacts. Other nonconventional sources of supply include wastewater. The combined and interacting forces of climate change and socio-economic drivers result in a continuously increasing demand for finite water resources for which there are no substitutes. and the rising financial cost of water.

This will have strong impacts on poverty. Technology Developing countries will depend on technology advances and transfers in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. inadequately trained personnel at both professional and technician levels. the appraisal of adaptation and mitigation options needs to be conducted across multiple water-dependent sectors. collecting and analyzing information. Low-income countries and regions are likely to remain vulnerable over the medium term. If these can be combined with hazard mitigation strategies involving all levels of affected communities. It will be important for the success of adaptation strategies to strike the right balance between demand. in which water is implicated. the situation will call for the removal of obstacles and facilitation of technology transfer. will also contribute to better adaptation strategies. Therefore. 3 See Figure 5. food security and nature conservation. few laboratories for recalibrating equipment. Africa illustrates the situation in stark terms. It is important to ensure that vulnerable populations are given the tools to build resilience that prepares them for coping with challenges today and in the future. Urgency of action It is vital to address these major challenges now. The unpredictability of future water resources and pattern of distribution should not be an excuse for lack of action and strategic planning today. and to assist policy makers. there is a heavy bias towards supply-side interventions.SeCtioN 2 Integration of adaptation strategies As highlighted in preceding sections. rather than in the future. poor technology. Although supply-side measures have greater political attraction and can attract aid funding. adaptation strategies should be designed in the context of development. demand management is vital to promote long-term sustainability. The WWDR-3 contends that planning for future water resources often tends to prioritize the supply side of water rather than the demand side. since the farmers concerned are typically among the poorest. Combined with improved technology for monitoring. environment and health policies. and for more cooperation on research and development. For example. thereby seriously undermining diminishing non-renewal water reserves. and insufficient funding and capital to sustain current operations or acquire new technologies. So far in the National Adaptation Programmes of Actions (NAPAs) prepared by the LDCs. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). most technologies for adapting to climate change are already available in developing countries. Thus. practitioners and experts to map out strategies that can be implemented in the present. health. and are highly vulnerable to climatic variability. page 70. Typical problems include low quality and quantity of basic equipment. with fewer options than high-income countries for adapting to climate change.2 in WWDR-3. for example energy. there needs to be better management of rainwater. there are enormous opportunities to avoid loss of human life and economic damages. water resource management clearly impacts many other policy areas. soil moisture and supplemental irrigation. Where they are not. The increasing use of ‘climate knowledge’ to better understand the effects of climate variability and its socioeconomic impact. such as aquifers.and supply-side measures. these developments should lead to improvements in warning systems for floods and droughts and other major water-related events. 2009: ‘GDP growth tracks rainfall variability in Ethiopia (1983–2000) and Tanzania (1989–1999). These technical challenges are compounded by the reluctance of countries to exchange data freely. Climate Change and Water 9 .

can help to set post-conflict nations on a path to recovery. poverty and unequal access to resources. Widespread conflict in some fragile states has destroyed much of their social and economic infrastructure. as well as serious implications for the environment. In particular. Restoring this. and renewing their institutional capacity. though not alarmist’ scenarios. Some fragile states have experienced widespread conflict that has resulted in the destruction of economic infrastructure. He outlined ‘alarming. and floods and droughts sparking massive human migrations. Rebuilding after major natural disasters is also an opportunity to address long-standing infrastructure deficits. For example. political and military security at risk. At a 2007 United Nations 10 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . by 2020. a scarcity of food and water transforming peaceful competition into violence. economic. Adverse changes in internal. including limited or threatened access to energy increasing the risk of conflict. societies and economies. 75–250 million people may be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change (WWDR-3. weak institutions. especially its implications for scarce water resources. Investing in water systems and services is an opportunity to counter these destabilizing forces. In Africa alone. is a matter of collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world.3 Responses to climate change must focus on water (UN) Security Council debate on the impact of climate change on peace and security. The vulnerability of affected populations is worsened by the state’s loss of control over the forces of law and order and ultimately by its loss of political legitimacy. page 19). polarizing societies and weakening the ability of countries to resolve conflicts peacefully. the rehabilitation of damaged irrigation infrastructure and expansion of water supply and sanitation was a key feature of the 2006 Somali Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan. health. social. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that climate change has implications for peace and security. he stressed that this is especially the case ‘in vulnerable regions that face multiple stresses at the same time – pre-existing conflict. C limate change. food insecurity and incidence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS’. interjurisdictional and transboundary waters can put food.

and when large populations are faced with frequent floods and drought. page 11). risking serious vulnerabilities in the short and longer term. Climate mitigation measures are not always beneficial for water resources. many developed countries are shifting to ‘clean’ energy sources and away from thermal energy plants based on fossil fuels. Donald Kaberuka. which affects development at many levels. resulting in a growing frequency of local crises during extreme drought. incremental climate change will impinge on decisions about food security. embracing wide-ranging measures including reducing greenhouse gas emissions. such as those in Africa.SeCtioN 3 3a Addressing water drivers is an inescapable part of reducing vulnerability to climate change and building resilience for adaptation 3b There has to be a balance between mitigation and adaptation strategies so that win–win solutions can be realized O ne of the most pressing challenges that climate change brings is the vulnerability of populations. Water resource implications. But this increased need for storage is occurring at a time when pressure from users is forcing water managers to take risks and reduce carryover stocks. worsening food security and malnutrition to the increasing spread of disease. energy security and land use. especially the poor among them. page 31). reduced agricultural production. for example. energy. store as little as 4% of annual renewable flows. But although these measures may slow climate change. For example. a large proportion of the other 40% will continue to rely on subsistence and rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods. the impacts of climate change are expected to range from increased energy shortages. Climate Change and Water 11 . In Africa. growing migratory pressures and increased risks of conflict over scarce land and water resources. opened with a call for greater efforts to ensure water security nationally and regionally. as well as climate change impacts on these fragile ecosystems. usually the most vulnerable and the most dependent on reliable environmental resources. they will not halt or reverse it. vulnerability and uncertainty. urban dwellers will make up about 60% of the world’s population. The rural poor. the environment and economic development: all deserve top priority and commensurate funding. Decisions and policies for mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions. so that more storage will be needed to ensure the same level of security. Finance for adaptation should be augmented and made available for programmes in all sectors where this is likely to be required. The First African Water Week.3 billion people (WWDR-3. developing clean technologies and protecting forests. to the impacts of extreme events such as floods. more humanitarian emergencies. we face a considerably changed future climate. Climate change is likely to intensify existing pressures. People must be protected from the consequences of global climate change through adaptation measures. including financial. applying clean technologies and protecting forests) and adaptation (such as expansion of rain-water storage and water conservation practices) can have profound consequences on water supply and demand. Meeting water needs during dry seasons and ensuring security of supply require water storage. while some water management policies can even increase greenhouse gas emissions. emphasized that ‘it is no longer acceptable that the African continent continues to utilize only 4% of its water resources. The intergovernmental response has focused primarily on mitigation of climate change. But there is evidence that hydroelectric stations can generate large volumes of greenhouse gases released from sediment and decaying organic matter at the bottom of reservoirs. when a huge proportion of the people do not have access to safe water. must be fully taken into account so that win–win scenarios can be developed. While in many developed countries water storage at a level of 70%–90% ensures reliable sources of water for irrigation. to improve climatic adaptation. water supply and hydropower. president of the African Development Bank Group. Climate change will intensify climate irregularity. While trends indicate that by 2030. Even marginal land. Over the longer term. Developing countries need support of all kinds. leaving less for everyday use. represent about half of the world’s population today. Action is urgently needed’ (WWDR-3. or 3. Adaptation measures must be taken in several crucial areas: food. More water will have to be kept in reservoirs as reserves for dry spells. all with implications for the management of water resources and environmental sustainability. The number of countries and regions without enough water to produce their food is rising as populations increase. storm surges and droughts. Many regions are not yet taking the need to store more water into account. as well as a buffer for flood management. for example that used by pastoralists and subsistence agriculturalists in Africa. convened in Tunis in March 2008. is being targeted by developed countries for biofuel production. but meanwhile there is an even more urgent need to adapt to changes that are already under way. and it will be two generations before they begin to have an effect. Even if successful. increasing risk. in addition to food and energy shortages. less developed countries. T here is an urgent need to mitigate the pressures on climate change.

Elsewhere. There is increasing likelihood of reduced precipitation in semi-arid areas. On the other hand. Such changes could incite demand for new water-control infrastructure to compensate for changes in river runoff. In short. A combination of reduced base flows from rivers. To mitigate this. depending on geographical and other factors. runoff. while local production could be affected. current farming and cropping systems may become unsustainable. credit. and acknowledging the ecological and environmental need for water supply. more frequent extreme events and rising temperatures. Himalayas and Rocky Mountains.3 Responses to climate change must focus on water 3c Agriculture is a primary area for development of adaptation strategies the availability of freshwater. water lifting (manual and mechanical) and precision application technologies. reuse. especially in subsistence sectors at low latitudes. On the farm: storage. These are not necessarily new. more variable rainfall distribution. increased flooding and rising sea levels is expected to damage highly productive irrigated systems that help maintain the stability of cereal production. which will affect both rainfed and irrigated agriculture. in particular). changes in land use practices (management of cropland and grazing land) are considered to be the best options. when irrigation water demand is still low. The use of water is also being judged increasingly by equity and efficiency criteria. but rather ones that are appropriate to needs and respond to actual demands. This will accentuate demand in global markets and put further pressure on irrigated production. Making national water policies more coherent is the basic aim of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). Across sectors: multiple-use systems in rural areas and urban agriculture with wastewater. agriculture is also likely to be seriously affected by climate change in different ways. in particular. affecting the availability of water for all uses. In large irrigation systems that rely on high mountain glaciers for water. Adjusting to climate change is one amongst several major challenges facing agriculture in the coming decades. such as the Andes. major reforms and changes in farmer behaviour are called for. sharing scarce water and land with other growing use sectors. Large areas of croplands. Most of the increase in cereal production will be concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere.g. The projected increase in the frequency of droughts and floods will affect the yield of crops and livestock. climate change will alter the distribution of agricultural potential. flow control and storage management within surface irrigation systems on all scales. Other challenges include producing enough food and soft commodities to satisfy the growth of global populations. Agriculture has a complex relationship with climate change. Technological innovation is likely in three broad categories: 1 At the irrigation system level: water level. Australia and the Americas. Though its net effect on food production at the global level is uncertain. or Punjab) and. it adds to global warming through emissions of methane and other gases into the atmosphere. Water scarcity may limit food production and supply. On the one hand. The situation can be remedied in many developing countries by investing in water infrastructure and by developing markets. such as overhead sprinklers and localized irrigation. expensive or sophisticated options. putting pressure on food prices and increasing countries’ dependence on food imports. These production threats will be more significant in alluvial plains dependent on glacier melt (e. Technological improvements can occur at all levels and affect all types of irrigation systems. in lowland deltas (the Ganges and Nile). about 70% of freshwater withdrawals go to irrigated farming. especially in low latitudes. and the resources available for proper operation and maintenance. agricultural technology and extension services. a leading paradigm used by those involved in determining water policy. Several densely populated farming systems in developing countries are at risk. A severe reduction in river runoff and aquifer recharge is expected in the Mediterranean basin and in the semi-arid areas of Southern Africa. Colorado. 2 3 12 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . The number of countries and regions without enough water to produce their food is rising as populations increase. infiltration and evaporation affecting a water body) and In key areas of food insecurity dominated by rainfed agriculture (sub-Saharan Africa and peninsular India. Agriculture is by far the largest consumer of freshwater. in particular in semi-arid zones. Globally. will need to adapt to new conditions with lower precipitation. C limate change is expected to alter hydrologic regimes (the pattern of precipitation. They should also match the capacity of system managers and farmers. the expected reductions in production may have multiple impacts including loss of livelihoods and displacement of rural populations. temperature changes will cause high runoff periods to shift to earlier in the spring.

Other examples of potential hazards becoming opportunities include using increased runoff from glacial melting to develop more reliable water reserves. If these can be combined with hazard mitigation strategies involving all levels of affected communities. Although the indirect approach has dominated to date. economic and social benefits. Cooperation between developed countries and developing countries can build mitigation. casts. climate scientists interacting with partnering utilities to find space and time scales appropriate for adaptations to reduce the risk of climate extremes. all of which vary around the world. and the threat of droughts and floods. decisions on current problems should leave the way open for future options. Bhutan is one example of a country that has coordinated its national water and climate change adaptation policies to meet short. this solution will only be temporary and viable as long as the glaciers have not melted completely. the challenge is to select the development path that attains the best social. facilitate decision-making and accelerate investment by identifying the links between socioeconomic development. these developments should lead to improvements in warning systems for floods and droughts and other major water-related events. failure to act carries risks because the situation may deteriorate if no action is taken. but many farmers will then need to find other ways to earn a living.SeCtioN 3 3d There exist a variety of no-regrets solutions that will help address current and possible future water-related vulnerability and generate multiplied development benefits. High-income countries are experiencing water management problems that are very different from those of poor countries.and long-term threats of glacier lake outburst floods resulting from climate change-induced glacier melting. to coordinate climate. No-regrets strategies – actions that would significantly reduce the adverse impacts of change but would not cause harm if projections of impacts of change are wrong – are important in responding to climate change. The NAPAs under the UNFCCC are still in their early phases and much remains to be done. However. Developed countries and developing countries must work together to identify socioeconomic priorities and to invest in and use water to power the engines of growth. to avoid incurring the costs of neglected environmental management later. collecting and analyzing information. In contrast. developing countries prioritize eliminating poverty and raising the overall level of health and well-being. especially in the least developed countries. Direct approaches incorporate climate change information into decision-making – for example. economic and environmental conditions. They must break cycles of poverty while avoiding the harmful environmental and health consequences of unbridled development experienced in many developed countries.and water-related policies and actions. adaptation. environmental sustainability. potential for increasing the reliability of water supplies exists through the use of flood water storage to increase the reliability and to improve floodplain management and planning. economic and environmental outcomes. For example. avoidance and noregret measures into decision-making. Indirect approaches involve potentially affected people in studies of the readiness of societies to adapt to climate change. water management capacity and investments in water-related infrastructure and other sectors. While high-income countries can afford to pay more Climate Change and Water 13 . Conflict situations regarding water usage between agriculture and other demands will create additional challenges for water managers and policy makers. Options depend on social. In other countries. Combined with improved technology for monitoring. Such decisions shift the trade-offs away from water resources alone to broader concerns of environmental. Given the uncertainties about climate change. It will be important to work toward reducing uncertainty. importing food rather than producing it domestically may permit water to be used for higher value outputs. regardless of climate scenarios T he threat of climate change has led to many developments in the simulation of atmospheric processes. there are enormous opportunities to avoid loss of human life and economic damages. Responses to the challenges of climate change are likely to be specific for each country or national region. the availability of water over space and time. the direct approach is likely to begin to predominate as water managers and decision-makers become more serious about adaptation to climate change. Where water is scarce. Another good example for policy integration is Tunisia. improving the accuracy of climate and weather fore- attention to the environment and to long-term water system sustainability. Approaches to incorporating climate change information in decision-making can be either direct or indirect. Making decisions about water in this context can sometimes introduce inefficiencies in other development activities. sometimes at the expense of environmental sustainability.

Scenarios – which are sets of alternative futures – differ from forecasts. especially those involving a time horizon of 20 years or more. governments should commit to much more support for adaptation measures and increases in funding for these. The decisions and policies that can be put in place today for mitigation (such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. agricultural. even now. To safeguard the integrity of our water resources. Because the real world is so complex. Sustainable management of water resources requires systemic. WWDR-3 argues for a more judicious balance between mitigation and adaptation to a process of global warming that appears already well under way. improved risk-based approaches to management. It is widely accepted that Africa.4 Proactive adaptation requires enabling policy conditions at all levels: national. climate change could be a blessing in disguise if it leads the more sustainable use of resources. applying clean technologies and protecting forests) and adaptation (such as expansion of rainwater storage and water conservation practices) can have profound consequences for water supply and demand. integrated decision-making that recognizes the interdependence of decisions. This need will increase if. which are individual interpretations of a most probable future based on extrapolation of the best available information. increased integration of groundwater and surface water supplies (including artificial recharge). Such management issues include improved observation networks. though upgrading its rainfed farming systems will also be vital to its adjustment. Scenarios are not forecasts. as expected. Africa also has more scope than elsewhere to expand its irrigated area. Funding for adaptation. regional and international T he imperatives of climate change have forced attention to critical issues of water resources management that need addressing. Public policy in response to global warming has so far been dominated by mitigation. part of which is derived from the proceeds of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). improved early warning and forecasting systems for hazardous events. climatic conditions become more unstable in future. Adaptation is a more urgent perspective for African countries to take than mitigation initiatives. In this respect. 14 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . has much less storage relative to its needs for flood and drought alleviation than other regions. considering both their natural state and the need to balance competing demands – domestic. regardless of global warming. forecasts are often wrong. scenarios are particularly helpful for this purpose. Scenarios provide a means of looking beyond the water sector in search for an adequate causal understanding of different water issues. industrial and environmental – to ensure sustainability. Water resources must be viewed holistically. both today and over the long term. and raising community awareness of sustainable water use and individual responses to water-related hazards. should be increased for all water-related sectors where adaptation is called for. Proper scenario development and their use can contribute to several goals in the pursuit of sustainable water resources.

decisions at the international. global scenarios provide a context for scenarios on a smaller geographic scale (local. considering both their natural state and the need to balance competing demands – domestic. watershed. scenarios are particularly helpful for this purpose. debates and negotiation. the unfolding of alternatives and the branching points at which human actions can significantly affect the future. The need to organize understanding for decisionmaking Decision-makers may have difficulty identifying the elements from different studies that are most relevant for their decisions. The need to make decisions in a context of high uncertainty Decision-makers in the water sector must often address water management issues against a background of rapidly changing environmental conditions and increasing uncertainty. which are unknown. Sustainable management of water resources requires systemic. environmental and social processes and allowing time for waterworks investments and water mitigation schemes to yield results. The need for an arena for conversation among water stakeholders Scenarios provide common frameworks for mapping and highlighting critical concerns of diverse stakeholders and identifying alternatives – setting the stage for discussions. The need to include non-quantifiable factors The world’s water system includes. Further. while decisions about water resources can also affect the environment Climate Change and Water 15 . The need for integration and breadth Water resources must be viewed holistically. Decisions about economic and social futures can affect hydrology and ecosystems. and is influenced by. as well as factors that can be quantified and modeled mathematically (such as hydrologic and climatological dynamics and economic factors). Meanwhile. and land use.SeCtioN 4 The need for a long-term view A long-term view of water for sustainable development requires taking into account the slow unfolding of some hydrologic. They are constructed to focus attention on causal processes and decision points. many factors that are difficult to quantify (such as cultural and political variables and processes). perspective and context for computer models and sectoral studies. integrated decision-making that recognizes the interdependence of decisions. The uncertainty results from both a limited understanding of human and ecological processes and the intrinsic indeterminism of complex dynamic systems. industrial and environmental – to ensure sustainability. agricultural. The need for perspective Qualitative scenarios provide guidance. Qualitative scenario analyses can provide insight into these factors that simulation models cannot. while models and studies provide consistency and feasibility checks for some elements of water scenarios. national or regional). national and local levels are all connected. as well as numerical estimates of the modeled variables. Water resources futures depend on future human choices. Decisions on land use can affect the availability and condition of water resources. Many important changes in a river basin are determined by factors from outside the study area. Scenarios are developed with decision-making in mind.

To achieve results. competition between different water usage demands is a growing concern. These decisions are made in broader political frameworks and not by water managers. Sectoral water resource strategies for adaptation to climate change that do not take holistic integrated approaches. disaster preparedness. Today. political and regulatory frameworks. water use and management are ultimately decided by the interaction of decision-makers in the main socioeconomic sectors – health. policy and institutional response to such predicted impacts as rising sealevels. better legislation and more effective and transparent allocation mechanisms. Challenges include wise planning for water resources. possible reallocation or storage expansion in existing reservoirs. As water scarcity increases so does the need for financial investment to adapt to water supply variabilities. water governance must be expanded to and integrated with nonwater sectors. more frequent droughts and increased precipitation. UN Common Country Assessment and UN Development Assistance Framework). a better balance between equity and efficiency in water use. such as agriculture. Development agency programmes and policies Plans and priorities identified in development cooperation frameworks must incorporate climate change impacts and vulnerability information to support development outcomes (e. who subsequently deal with their implications for water and with other outcomes that touch on water. They apply at different levels: 1. many actors need to participate in these decisions. Among the decisions that affect water the most are those relating to how a country meets its objectives for energy and food security. may exacerbate current problems or give rise to future issues. A growing number of countries and cities are including water-related adaptation into their planning. access to technology. Many countries face multiple challenges but have limited financial and natural resources and implementation capacities. disaster risk management and coastal development. Maladaptive actions and processes often include planned development policies and measures that deliver short-term gains or economic benefits but lead to exacerbated vulnerability in the medium to long-term (UNDP definition). integration should become a systematic process rather than a one-off process of utilizing climate information in decisions (UNDP draft working definition).g. science and information should be increased for sound planning. evaluation of availability and needs in a watershed. environmental sustainability and other societal goals. energy. National policies. Competition for water and weaknesses in managing water to meet the needs of society and the environment call for enhanced societal responses through improved water resource management. financial. inadequate legislative and institutional frameworks. water. Within government.4 Proactive adaptation requires enabling policy conditions at all levels 4a At national level. health. and the rising financial burden of ageing infrastructures. For many years action on water that could deliver benefits to the poor lacked government frameworks that prioritized poverty reduction and mobilization of financing. as few current poverty reduction strategies give anything but superficial attention to action on water. including poverty reduction strategies and priorities. Maladaption is interpreted as actions or processes that increase vulnerability to climate change-related hazards. UNDP Country Cooperation Framework. industry. This information must also be considered in existing national assessments and action plans. Ideally. poverty reduction strategies still offer only the prospect of aligning action on water with poverty reduction. agriculture. development efforts should be checked for what could be maladaptations with regards to water T he best mix of responses to a country’s development objectives and policy priorities to meet its water challenges depends on the availability of water in space emphasis on water demand management. programmes and priorities Information about climate-related risk. economic development and environment. Countries need to fully use synergy opportunities and to make trade-offs and difficult decisions on how to allocate water among uses and users to protect their water supply. and markets. in turn. 2. Multisectoral water mainstreaming is essential for incorporating climate change risks and adaptation into developing strategies. institutional and human capacities – its culture. and in time and the country’s technical. education. housing. employment. more 16 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme .. or competition between different sectors can lead to maladaptation that. vulnerability and options for adaptation must be incorporated into planning and decision-making in key sectors.

g se at Con ing ements for great er rang . This apparent misallocation is often attributed to government failure to distribute water rationally. industries.SeCtioN 4 The integrated approach to dealing with water scarcity and sectoral competition is illustrated in Figure 9. However. including those associated with limited or lowquality data and information and the inherent unpredictability of climate and other environmental factors. ar r grabbing ies . wate . Figure 9. including ecosystems. low flows in the dry season are diverted by upland farmers to irrigate their orchards. ric state an Chan g Se ct d m or a c ghts lo ater ri s. Agriculture gets by far the largest share of diverted water resources and also consumes the most water through plant evapo-transpiration. gr vir ins ste ound a g. ed ing tu wa gat . A promising approach for dealing with climate risk is to integrate management of current climate variability and extremes with measures towards adaptation to climate change. s o red uc local rv es. p( eu iv loc al Responses to basin closure loc t sta e al Tap g r. Half the world’s population lives in cities – and this share is increasing – while agriculture is generally the largest user of water. Perhaps the most common conflict is between agriculture and cities. In Northern Thailand.2 (page 154) Risk management encompasses more than managing extremes such as floods and droughts. dars an len m ca e d ow nfl an tur re e eo fc ro equ ps ity. tr al w ild n. Conflicts about water can occur at all scales. Local-level conflicts are commonplace in irrigation systems. o co nfl brib ic ery .b ea l r kets ar ent em ag . desalination. Moving water from agriculture to uses with higher economic value is frequently proposed. the nested nature of these scales also means that the modes of governance will have to be consistent and interrelated. c t ic pra nt s e on em u ti ag nstit i an m ing. Cities are also thirsty. Sectoral conflicts oppose users from different sectors (domestic. for example. Figure 9.2 of the WWDR-3 (see opposite). wa water abstraction. for several reasons. On the other hand. where farmers vie for limited resources. cloud n intr u se oduc e conjunctive gate small drains. Risk management is now much more important – indeed essential – to analysis and decision-making. te Developing Source: Based on Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture 2007. l ins tio ev e ca n-l asi ll o . w Al ota ns qu titutio n. much of the water used for agriculture ultimately serves to feed the world’s ever-growing urban populations. issues like climate change and demographic dynamics have made the risks greater and the task more complex. where use of pesticides sometimes leads to the pollution of streams. r R d Climate Change and Water 17 . roundwate sta es i er as vo iv sb te i er an a sio r bu . While conflict resolution mechanisms and adequate modes of governance will differ with scale.w etr ic wa ater te rp Adopt microirrigati on. The value-added of water in non-agricultural sectors is usually far higher than in agriculture. hydropower.2 Three types of response to water scarcity and competition in l lining. v o me l um nt . iet ar tion ga rv liti ase water) rele ts. dr din ter see treat ment. These conflicts are both economic (the return per cubic metre differs greatly across these uses) and political (the social importance and the political clout of each sector also varies). those sustainability depends on environmental flows. improved da Cana mm g ana awareness campaign ge s. Decision-makers must take into account multiple uncertainties. Dealing with risk and uncertainty has long been a routine challenge for water resource managers and policy-makers across sectors and the world. im ge cropping t pr ech chan ov niq ue n-farm storage. irrigation. It entails the use of a structured approach to manage uncertainty regarding these events. UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. recreation and so on). Conflicts also occur at the scale of large national river basins (multistate Indian rivers such as the Cauvery and the Krishna) or transnational river basins (the Jordan and the Nile).

help civil society build capacity and catalyze leadership in the private sector. which the WWDR-3 aims to provide. both formal and customary. on-the-job training. and have been expressed before. for providing power for industry.2). What are the objectives. International organizations. stakeholder participation and transparency. for example. both within the water domain and in areas or sectors outside the water domain. in Asian and Latin American slums and in states recovering from conflict. communities or businesses – that point to promoting deliberate cooperation between water and non-water actors and integrating water issues into external decisions. Because governments. Strengthening organization structures and improving the operating efficiency of water supply utilities will help to improve service quality and increase the coverage and density of connections. civil society and business leaders make decisions every day that can affect water. including when water crosses borders. e-learning. notably the UN system. public awareness raising. Augmentation is a supply management strategy. Capacity development can occur through traditional forms of education. Developing multipurpose water schemes and reusing water wherever feasible can lessen the need for trade-offs by enabling the same volumes of scarce water to deliver multiple outcomes. including regulations in other sectors that influence the management of water resources. and for child education and health? What are the relations between these objectives. Sound management accountability and good governance within the water sector contribute to creating a favourable investment climate. Preparing institutions to deal with current and future challenges requires support for institutional development through such reforms as decentralization.4 Proactive adaptation requires enabling policy conditions at all levels The responses to increased competition for water are supply augmentation. this typically means building new reservoirs or desalination plants or improving interbasin transfer. Identifying trade-offs and synergies between water and other policy sectors can enhance policy impacts in all sectors and avoid some adverse effects on water. can provide support and expertise to governments. environment and economic development – all involve water in different ways. Conserving water includes increasing the efficiency of use by reducing losses. and water and water systems? How should water be managed to achieve these objectives? 18 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . environmental or other criteria. Changes in allocation to ease competition or to maximize water use are based on economic. For the state. Recent G-8 efforts in this direction are promising. The global crises that we now confront – in energy. they have been gathering force. It also requires distinguishing between short-term ‘fire-fighting’ – responding to the urgent issues of the day – and long-term strategic development. while also boosting revenues and creating a more viable financial base to attract further investment. Decision-making on water requires seeking synergies and selecting appropriate tradeoffs. The donor community can incorporate water into the broader frameworks of development aid and focus assistance on areas where it is needed most – in sub-Saharan Africa. increased corporatization where feasible and fair. implementation and management as well as building trust within the water and related sectors and fighting corruption and mismanagement. The most conventional response is to develop new resources. commerce and households. knowledge management and professional networks. while conservation and reallocation are demand management strategies. A nation’s water resources are used and managed most effectively when they are linked to broader development objectives. food. public-public. it is important to identify where such decisions can also lead to improvements in water sector management and in water sector and environmental services. climate change. conservation and reallocation (WWDR-3. Some options show particular promise. Although the problems it describes are not new. Innovation and research are critical for developing appropriate solutions. For users. Decision-makers need to consider the influence of water law. for job creation and incomes. and new administrative systems based on shared benefits of water. social. for feeding the population. Figure 9. this means more wells or farm ponds or gating drains to store water. Examples of win-win situations abound – whether created by governments.’ Water managers need reliable information about the availability and use of water in all its aspects. partnerships and coordination (public-private. roughly defined as ‘doing better with what we have. There are many practical examples of solutions within the water domain. Decision-making is improved by consulting with stakeholders and ensuring accountability in planning. And greater institutional capacity and human capacity are needed. public-civil society).

WE COMMIT OURSELVES TO: (a) Increase our efforts to implement our past declarations related to water and sanitation. limited access to data. UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. . (d) Develop and/or update national water management policies. (b) Raise the profile of sanitation by addressing the gaps in the context of the 2008 eThekwini Ministerial Declaration on sanitation in Africa adopted by [the African Ministers Council on Water]. the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. where lower riparian countries have a disproportionally larger benefit from upstream observations. . (i) Significantly increase domestic financial resources allocated for implementing national and regional water and sanitation development activities and call upon Ministers of water and finance to develop appropriate investment plans. (j) Develop local financial instruments and markets for investments in the water and sanitation sectors. Arab Republic of Egypt. Many data-sharing protocols and agreements already exist at the national. Although water is often described as a ‘gift of nature’. collaborative water management for shared surface and groundwater should be emphasized. and that remains a growing challenge in the achievement of food and energy securities. harnessing and managing it for the wide variety of human and ecological needs entail financial costs. . unrestricted access to better-quality information from improved measurements (in terms of quantity. Governments still have only three basic means of financing water resources development: tariffs. regional and global levels.1 Commitment of African heads of state to water as a key to sustainable development WE. . (k) Mobilize increased donor and other financing for the water and sanitation initiatives. Managing the world’s water resources requires reliable data on the state of the resource and how it is changing in response to external drivers such as climate change and water and land use. And particularly. quality and timeliness) and techniques and lead to improved model structures based on a better understanding of physical processes and better mathematical representation and use of available information during model identification and calibration. . and prepare national strategies and action plans for achieving the MDG targets for water and sanitation over the next seven (7) years. . This hampers regional and global projects that rely on shared datasets for scientific and applications-oriented purposes.1 (page 7) Climate Change and Water 19 . The level of uncertainty for assessment and forecasting varies. such as forecasting. economic and environmental development of our countries and Continent. Recognizing that water is and must remain a key to sustainable development in Africa and that water supply and sanitation are prerequisites for Africa’s human capital development.SeCtioN 4 4b At regional level. (h) Put in place adaptation measures to improve the resilience of our countries to the increasing threat of climate change and variability to our water resources and our capacity to meet the water and sanitation targets. Source: African Union 2008.1 on page 7 of the WWDR-3. there are numerous models for sharing water that provide equity as well as rational management I mproved networks for hydrologic data collection and monitoring can minimize uncertainties in forecasting and lessen decision-making risk in several ways. In transboundary basins. due largely to policy and security issues. (f) Ensure the equitable and sustainable use. such agreements could require downstream users to contribute more to the maintenance and operation of upstream stations. . of national and shared water resources in Africa. regulatory frameworks. A needs-based approach should form the basis of any data-sharing policy. (c) Address issues pertaining to agricultural water use for food security as provided for in the Ministerial Declaration and outcomes of the first African Water Week. Concerned that there is an underutilization and uneven sharing of water resources in Africa. disaster warning and prevention. Despite its importance for the integrated management of water quantity and quality and for understanding water-related health hazards. as well as promote integrated management and development. mitigation and adaptation are of vital importance. enhance information and knowledge management as well as strengthen monitoring and evaluation. Recognizing the importance of water and sanitation for social. especially the least developed. Box 1. . lack of agreed protocols for sharing. Networks also tend to be weak in developing countries. and programmes. . Networks can provide Regional cooperation and commitment to tackle climate change impacts. taxes and transfers through external aid and philanthropy. Even at the national level such information is either inconsistently gathered or unavailable – partly because of ill-defined data collection responsibilities that rest with a multitude of national organizations and commercial entities which rarely share their information. meeting at the 11th Ordinary Session of our Assembly in Sharm el-Sheikh. The African Heads of State Declaration on water as a key to sustainable development is a prime example of policy level understanding of the challenges at the highest level (see Box 1. and commercial considerations. no comprehensive information exists on the regional or global extent of wastewater generation and treatment or of receiving water quality. polar and mountainous regions. but is generally high in subtropical. seasonal regional hydrologic outlooks. reproduced below). There is little sharing of hydrologic data. from 30 June to 1 July 2008. (g) Build institutional and human resources capacity at all levels including the decentralized local government level for programme implementation. tropical. Box 1. (e) Create conducive environment to enhance the effective engagement of local authorities and the private sector. and integrated water resources management in transboundary basins.

economic. environmental sustainability • Leveraging effects: sources and skills • Payment schemes? Leveraging beneficiaries’ willingness to pay Financing mechanisms (bridging the gap) • Payment schemes leveraging beneficiaries’ willingness to pay • Attract funds and build appropriate finance packages (cost of capital) Maximizing contributions to sector sustainability by different stakeholders. financing for water-related investments should be increased. and on who bears the costs of such compromise. particularly in the form of imported agricultural commodities). While both are vital. technology. including for infrastructure. Growth and changes in the global economy are having far-reaching impacts on water resources and their use.4 Water investment requires a holistic approach – links between pricing. Figure 1. so far dominated by mitigation. financing and stakeholders • Objectives • Technology requirements Investment plans Costs Financial needs/gap Realistic finance strategies Ultimate sources (filling the gap) • Users and beneficiaries • Public budgets • External aid Leveraging • To fill the gap • Increase users’ willingness to pay (services. could benefit from a better balance between mitigation and adaptation. reduce gap • Improve service: increase users’ willingness to pay • Clarify roles and provide stability: attract funds • Elicit users’ needs: reduce cost/gap.4 Proactive adaptation requires enabling policy conditions at all levels 4c At international and global level. social. Policy-makers need to make political decisions on socially and environmentally acceptable trade-offs among different objectives. Public policy. The world faces major choices in meeting the challenge of climate change and its potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts. efficiency. focusing on today’s problems can also create greater resilience for dealing with tomorrow’s problems. Water management choices should emerge from informed consultation and negotiation on the costs and UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. Growing international trade in goods and services can aggravate water stress in some countries while relieving it in others through flows of ‘virtual water’ (water embedded in products and used in their production.4 from the WWDR-3 illustrates how water-related investments are financed (see below). including the private sector • Increase efficiency: reduce cost. and data collection and dissemination T he international community also has to balance investing for tomorrow’s likely problems of greater climate variability and global warming against investing for benefits of all options after considering basin interconnectedness. increase willingness to pay United Nations World World Water Assessment Programme 20 United Nations Water Assessment Programme . relationships between land and water resources. reforms) • To bridge the gap • Attract private funds • Integrate finance packages Pricing strategies • Part of sustainable cost recovery • Trade-offs: financial. Figure 1. and the consistency and coherence of decisions with other government policies.4 (page 9) Figure 1. today’s problems of climate variability to prevent losses from droughts and floods.

SeCtioN 4 4d At regional level. there are numerous models for sharing water that provide equity as well as rational management Commitments have been made by the donor community to increase assistance to the broad water sector. their value is limited by our ability to ground truth and validate the simulated information.1 The cost of adapting to climate change Estimates of the costs of climate change impacts vary because they depend on future greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change estimates additional investments for adaptation to climate change at $28-$67 billion and as high as $100 billion a year several decades from now. Also.1 (page 71) • While there is considerable debate about these estimates. Most countries. Box 5. Climate Change and Water 21 . UNDP 2007. Estimates of the additional investments needed in water supply infrastructure in 2030 are $11 billion. water observation networks provide incomplete and incompatible data on water quantity and quality for properly managing water resources and predicting future needs – and these networks are in jeopardy of further decline. The following are some estimates of the costs of adaptation for developing countries: • World Bank estimates of the additional costs to adapt or climate-proof new investments range from $9 to $41 billion a year. UNFCCC 2007b.While new technologies based on satellite remote sensing and modelling present opportunities. need to give greater attention and more resources to monitoring. mitigation measures and assumptions about anthropogenic climate change itself and about how effectively countries will adapt to it. observations and continual assessments of the status of water resources. collaborative water management for shared surface and groundwater should be emphasized. Improving water resources management requires investments in monitoring and more efficient use of existing data. Current Global Environment Facility funds (about $160 million) are several orders of magnitude too little to meet these projected needs.1 of the WWDR-3 (see below). Box 5. 85% of it in developing countries. • Oxfam estimates the current costs of adaptation to climate change for all developing countries at more than $50 billion a year. It is essential to take the cost of adapting to climate change into account at all levels and ensure sufficient resources are made available in particular to developing countries that often bear the most devastating impacts of climate change. UN World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. Oxfam 2007. they provide useful order-of-magnitude numbers for assessing resources available for adaptation. developed and developing. Examples of estimates for the cost of adapting to climate change are provided in Box 5. Worldwide. no comprehensive information exists on wastewater generation and treatment and receiving water quality on a regional or global scale. The percentage of total aid allocated to the water sector remains below 6% and has been declining. but this has led mainly to an increase in allocations for water supply and sanitation in dollar terms (although its share of total official development assistance has stagnated at 4%). including traditional ground-based observations and newer satellite-based data products. Source: World Bank 2006. And a recent update by the United Nations Development Programme put the mid-range of the costs of adaptation at about $37 billion a year in 2015.

humidity. the UN system and the Bretton Woods institutions.4 Proactive adaptation requires enabling policy conditions at all levels At the High-Level Event on the MDGs at the UN in September 2008. evaporation. especially for the least developed countries: linkages between financing for development and international climate change financing were discussed. Datasets from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) for 1948–2007 are a widely used source. including operation and maintenance. discussion focused on the need for new adaptation strategies and for climate-resilient national development plans. a new requirement is climate-relevant observations. modelling approaches need to be mainstreamed to generate model-derived observation time series. Financing of hydrologic networks. Other hydrologic information – such as in-situ and remotely sensed soil moisture and meteorological data and information including precipitation. 22 United Nations World Water Assessment Programme . A number of specific recommendations affect all levels of policy and be summarized as follows: At the national. multipurpose observational needs should be undertaken. This would increase the number of observations over space and time. need to clarify the budgetary implications of adaptation. Integrated multiplatform network solutions that combine in-situ and space-based observations and that are affordable for developing countries should be promoted. this could be overcome to a large degree by connecting offline operating stations to modern telecommunication systems to increase spatial and temporal availability of data from already existing stations. including donor countries. regional and global levels a minimum requirements analysis of long-term. and help meet the additional costs that climate-resilient development will entail. temperature and wind fields – needs to be considered to complement hydrologic information and to enhance the information content of hydrologic data through integration in multivariate models and predictions. As observational gaps are often directly related to deficiencies in data transmission and communication. It was also agreed that all countries. ensure that adequate finance mechanisms are in place. including those from pristine basins. sector-specific funding arrangements. including transboundary river basins and shared aquifer systems. should be based on a multiple-source strategy rather than on the prevailing single-source. Making maximum use of existing hydrologic observations requires more effort to share hydrologic data and information on all levels. In data-sparse regions in particular. A promising tool is the reconstruction of hydroclimatic data by downscaling.

. and C. www. 2008. Sharm el-Sheikh. Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture. Bonn. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. and Colombo: International Water Management Institute. www. 2008. Corvalán. Paris: UNESCO Publishing. Declaration I. Stockholm: SEI.unccd. Stockholm Environment Institute. 2005.int/ Climate Change and Water 23 . Campbell-Lendrum. 13. www. A. Climate Change and Human Health: Impacts. Kovats. Sustainable Pathways to Attain the Millennium Development Goals: Assessing the Key Role of Water. London: Earthscan. Neira. S.. Eleventh Ordinary Session. Maria Lubega. Edited by Timothy Nater. D. Corvalan. 30 June-1 July. The Role of Women within the Water Sector and the Importance of Gender Mainstreaming. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 2009. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 85: 235-37. Water for Life: A Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture. D. and M. Desertification – Coping with Today’s Global Challenges. 2007. IPCC-XXVIII/ Doc. Geneva.pdf. 2008. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Haines. 2008. The 5th World Water Forum Newsletter 4. Water for Food.org/water/wwap/wwdr/wwdr3/ Publications referred to in boxes and figures reproduced from the WWDR-3: African Union. www. C. 2007. Energy and Sanitation. R. Global Climate Change: Implications for International Public Health Policy. Germany: Deutsche Gesellschaft für.ipcc.org/ Campbell-Lendrum. Public Health 120 (7): 585-96. Mutagamba. 2006.ch/meetings/session28/doc13. Sharm El-Sheikh Commitments for Accelerating the Achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals in Africa.REFERENCES References This Special Report presents an overview of messages on climate change from the World Water Development Report 3 (WWDR-3): World Water Assessment Programme. The United Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. and London: Earthscan. Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water. Vulnerability and Public Health. Assembly of the African Union. Egypt.africa-union.unesco.

it offers best practices as well as in-depth theoretical analyses to help stimulate ideas and actions for better stewardship in the water sector.The United Nations World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World This World Water Assessment Programme Special Report brings together messages on water and climate change from the World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. Climate Change and Water – An Overview from the World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World A United Nations World Water Assessment Programme Special Report ©2009 UNESCO-WWAP AND Climate Change WATER . nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders. these twenty case studies from around the world examine water challenges and differing managment approaches taken in response. Facing the Challenges. the World Water Development Report is a joint effort of the 26 United Nations agencies and entities that make up UN-Water. international organizations. Coordinated by the World Water Assessment Programme. the foremost United Nations report on the state of the world’s freshwater resources. working in partnership with governments. The third edition of the report. published every three years. The report. represents a mechanism for monitoring changes in water resources and management and tracking progress towards achieving international development targets. It offers a comprehensive review of the state of the world’s freshwater resources and provides decisionmakers with the tools to implement sustainable use of our water. Water in a Changing World is presented together with a case-study volume. Adopting the premise that local actions and on-the-groun insights are the starting point of a global strategy to improve management of the world’s freshwater resources.