Water Security and
Climate Change Adaptation

Water scarcity reduces the adaptive capacities of society and ecosystems. Additionally, Climate Change is already placing unprecedented pressure on global water resources availability. This topic aims to strive towards adaptation policies and nature-based solutions to increase the resilience of the affected areas by bringing together diverse stakeholders to address water insecurity against anthropogenic and environmental challenges.

  • Nature-based Solutions and Ecosystem-based Adaptation
  • Coping Mechanism, Resilience and Responses
  • Adaptation Policies, Practices and Economics

Related sessions

Hosted by: Heinrich Hagel and Daniela Gomez (University Hohenheim, FSC)

Fresh water availability is crucial for food security as it is required for crop and livestock production. Population growth combined with dietary shifts and increasing relevance of non-food crops heavily increase the pressure on fresh water resources. At the same time, climate change strongly affects the spatial and temporal availability of fresh water. To ensure food security, especially concerning healthy diets, it is necessary to understand the interactions of water and food systems with their dynamic environment.

We welcome innovative contributions presenting sustainable adaptation strategies of food production systems to changing environmental conditions with respect to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (esp. SDGs 2, 15) and the Paris Agreement – NAPs. Multi-disciplinary approaches taking into account different stakeholder levels are highly welcome. Besides technical solutions, contributions include climate change impact assessment, adaption strategies, decision support tools, and alternative water use strategies.

Hosted by: Heinrich Hagel and Daniela Gomez (University Hohenheim, FSC)

Provision of water and food security are main challenges reflected within the UN Sustainable Development Goals (esp. SDGs 2 and 15). To guarantee the sustainable implementation of innovative technical solutions, economic feasibility and social acceptability are crucial. Therefore, this session aims at analysing the socio-economic dimension of natural resource management solutions and their implementation potential to ensure water and food security.

We welcome contributions covering the socio-economic aspects of water and land management systems, which include (but are not limited to) economic valuation and local acceptance of coping mechanisms, resilience strategies and responding measures. Concrete case studies on specific local and cultural solutions including a multi-stakeholder approach are highly welcome.

Hosted by: Udo Nehren (TH Köln, CNRD), Karen Sudmeier-Rieux (UNEP)

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are an umbrella term covering a range of ecosystem-based approaches for different societal challenges within the paradigm of sustainable development. NbS aim at four main target areas: climate change adaptation, climate change mitigation, disaster risk reduction, and environmental management. Under these four areas, we find various concepts such as Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA), Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR), Ecological Restoration (ER), Green or Natural Infrastructure (GI/NI), Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), and Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). In our session, we would like to invite scientists and practitioners to present their research and practical experiences related to the conceptualization, design and implementation of NbS in different environments such as coasts, mountains, drylands, wetlands, and urban landscapes. We would like to emphasize that in addition to ecological conservation and restoration measures, the focus is also on hybrid solutions, i.e. measures that combine green-blue and grey infrastructure. A special focus is on how the Post-2015 Development Agenda is implemented across the national and sub-national scales up to the project level and how academics, policy makers and practitioners can work together to increase uptake of NbS for resilience-building.

Hosted by: Björn Weeser and Suzanne Jacobs (ZEU)

Mountainous regions across the world play a vital role in the supply of freshwater to a large proportion of the world’s population. Compared to other ecosystems, mountain ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change. This will strongly affect the often already poor and marginalized communities living there, as well as downstream populations, that rely on the mountains as a water source. Climate change effects, such as melting glaciers, changes in the volume and timing of water supply and an increased risk of landslides, could affect hydropower production and agricultural productivity, whilst increasing water scarcity conflicts through unequal water allocation.

In this session, we will explore climate change effects, adaptation, and mitigation options for mountainous regions and the communities living in and around them, with a specific focus on water. We invite contributions presenting challenges, but also opportunities resulting from climate-induced changes in water-related issues. This includes, but is not limited to, studies on the effect of climate change on water provisioning and livelihoods, the application of novel monitoring strategies (e.g. citizen science, wireless sensor networks, remote sensing) and modeling to support water management and the development of early warning systems for natural hazards, and recommendations for good governance of mountain ecosystems.

Hosted by: Dominic Sett and Simone Sandholz (UNU-EHS)

Water-related disasters are becoming increasingly complex due to exacerbating environmental and anthropogenic change. To manage this growing risk, e.g. to assure water security of growing populations in the face of climate change or to protect informal dwellers from rising flood levels, a wide range of strategies has been developed. However, the design and implementation of such strategies often work in silos, with little consideration of cross-sectoral interlinkages. Due to the narrow sectoral focus, many sectoral approaches thus fail to strengthen overall resilience.

Therefore, integrative approaches are needed to better address risks and people’s needs, particularly of the most vulnerable. Furthermore, such approaches could seize important coherence benefits that are substantial for achieving the goals of global development agendas like the SDGs, the Sendai Framework and the Paris Agreement. However, to establish cross-sectoral integration various challenges will need to be overcome, including, but not limited to, sectoral budgets, lack of institutional cooperation, established practices, and different underlying concepts with their own definitions. A risk and vulnerability focus would help to overcome these challenges by adding a common understanding and an entry point for various sector interventions.

This session invites contributions pointing the way to integrating climate change adaptation, disaster risk management, poverty reduction, climate risk insurance, human rights and/or other sectors to effectively build resilience to water-related risks. This will be done based on presentations 1) highlighting international best practices that have successfully linked sectoral approaches, 2) showcasing novel conceptual approaches or 3) presenting integrated policy frameworks facilitating the move from coping to adaptation in reality. By means of the presentations and discussions the session aims to jointly identify needs, gaps, opportunities and ways forward in cross-sectoral integration that contributes to build water-secure and socially just futures.

Hosted by: M. Dinesh Kumar, Nitin Bassi (IRAP), Mukand Babel (AIT) and Yusuf Kabir (UNICEF)

In the past couple of decades, researchers and academicians in the field of climate, water and agriculture have tried to predict future changes in Asia’s climate at various scale from sub-continental level to regional level to basin level, using various assumptions about likely future changes in temperature and by using GCMs and RCMs. However, the model predictions are based on average values, significantly reducing the utility of such predictions for regions that experience high variability in climate factors. The reason is that many a time, the value of the predicted variable (say, % change in rainfall) is less than the % change in the annual rainfall values that the region receives between a dry year and a wet year. In the same way, the model predictions of the impact of climate change on water resources done at basin scales, have also failed to capture the impact of variability in climate on basin hydrology that precipitation alters.

From a purely utilitarian perspective, we need to know how these changes would look like in dry and wet years. From a water management perspective, capturing the current variations in the hydrological conditions in the basin and the stress that they induce on the socio-economic system might appear to be more important than capturing the consequences of the small changes in precipitation on basin yield and water supplies. The former requires complex modeling exercise. This is attempted in the session, through an assessment of climate-induced threat to irrigation water supplies, climate-induced risk in WASH faced by communities. While climate change issues are addressed in the literature only at the macro and national level. But this session addresses the same in the specific context of irrigation and water supply & sanitation, with empirical studies both at the national, provincial and local levels with case studies.