Water Security Hazards and Risks

Climatic extremes events have socio-ecological, economic, and environmental impacts. Their analysis is crucial to shift towards proactive management practices that reduce economical losses. This topic invites scientific contributions for solutions and management-oriented climatic risk reduction practices and policies for the most vulnerable communities.

  • Vulnerability and Risk Assessment and Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Coping with Climate Extremes (Floods, Droughts, Storms, Coastal Resilience, Pollution Control)
  • Water Risk Management and Policy
  • Water and Health

Related sessions

Water and Disasters and the Role of Real-Time Geospatial Tools for Operational Planning and Decision-Making

Hosted by: Rishiraj Dutta (ADPC)

Through a unique partnership between NASA and USAID, SERVIR-Mekong is harnessing space technology and open data to help address development challenges related to a changing climate. SERVIR-Mekong works in partnership with leading regional organizations to help the five countries in the Lower Mekong Region namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Vietnam, use information provided by Earth observing satellites and geospatial technologies to manage climate risks. Over the years, several tools and services have been developed and deployed in the Lower Mekong Region prioritizing the specific country needs in terms of real-time monitoring of sectoral issues such as disasters, agriculture, water, and ecosystems and land use. 

While the session will provide an overview of the different tools and services deployed in the region, it will also give an account of a successful case example of the Vietnam Drought Portal that has been customized for drought monitoring and forecasting in the Ninh Thuan province of the South and Central Highlands. The tool was developed jointly by SERVIR-Mekong and the Vietnam Academy of Water Resources (VAWR) whereby the Regional Hydrologic Extreme Assessment System (RHEAS) was successfully customized and implemented to produce the drought outlook/forecast for Ninh Thuan province. The drought information generated by this service have helped assist farmers to make preemptive decisions about their water use, cropping and planting patterns, and market decisions. The service has also empowered end-users to help reduce crop loss, support agricultural livelihoods, and have enabled farmers to access appropriate advisories for their crops including scheduling and harvesting.

Novel Approaches to Assess and Cope with Droughts in Data Scarce Regions

Hosted by: Alexandra Nauditt, Lars Ribbe (TH Köln, CNRD), Christian Birkel (UCR, CNRD) and Rolando Celleri (UoC, CNRD)

Droughts are causing severe damages worldwide. Drought adaptation strategies, however, require a profound knowledge about the spatial and seasonal distribution of drought risk at local or river basin scale. Therefore, with this session, we intend to highlight innovative data sets and methodologies contributing to a better assessment and management of drought risk – especially in data scarce catchments.
 Droughts are slowly evolving and complex disasters, often poorly understood in the context of their regional climatic, hydrological and human environment. Therefore, we welcome research looking at hazard, vulnerability and exposure, the individual components of drought risk.

This session aims at presenting and discussing concepts, methods and data that can support drought assessment, management and forecasting.

Nature-Based Solutions in Science, Policy and Practice: Filling the Post-2015 Development Agenda with Action

Hosted by: Udo Nehren (TH Köln, CNRD) and 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.

Water-Climate-Nexus Challenges and Opportunities in Mountainous Regions

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.

Operational Water Management Developments in Southeast Asia

Hosted by: Marcel Marchand and Dinh Phuong Trang (Deltares)

Hydrometeorological hazards such as floods and droughts are omnipresent in  Southeast Asian countries and are likely to increase with climate change. To cope with these hazards there is a growing need for real time water information enabling timely decisions in water management. Indeed, most countries are currently developing early warning systems as part of their disaster risk reduction management policies. These systems  require up to date and high-resolution data to feed hydrodynamic models, preferably in an automated workflow to generate reliable forecasts. Surface observation data, satellite and radar images combined with numerical weather prediction model results need to be processed, analyzed and archived in such a way that they can be used by rainfall run-off and hydraulic models that can generate predicted water flows and levels. There have been commendable achievements and investments in each of these components over the past decade. Nevertheless, there remains a genuine challenge to combine and integrated these into a reliable operational forecasting and warning system. Data transmissions are vulnerable, databases and models are often fragmented and require different formats, hampering interoperability. Hence, latest developments are (or should be) focusing on system integration from a holistic perspective, acknowledging that technical solutions can only be effective if sufficient attention is given to capacity building and institutional embedding.  

From Coping to Adaptation Integrated Strategies to Build Resilience to Water-Related Risks for the Most Vulnerable

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.

Irrigation and Drinking Water Security under Climatic Extremes Empirical Analysis and Policy Lessons

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.

Drought Risk Assessment and Mitigation

Hosted by: Yuei-An Liou (NCU)

Droughts are very common phenomena that occur worldwide and may cause the society tremendous amounts of economic loss and social damage with long-term consequences and difficulties to overcome. In the context of climate change, droughts are increasingly threatening not only economy, but also ecosystems and food security in the most vulnerable countries. Take Vietnam in 2019-2020 dry season as an example, drought and saline intrusion have greatly affected the life, activities, and agricultural yields of the Mekong Delta, where is Vietnam’s largest rice bowl. It is important to assess the changes in spatiotemporal trends of droughts in the regional scale. This information will help us understand the impacts of climate change and drought. Implementation of drought assessment will support policymakers and water resources managers in developing coping strategies and drought management plans.This session seeks for research studies on advancements in development, application, technology, and model to further heighten exploration of droughts, climate change and their impacts on socio-economics. In addition, this session solicits solutions in short-and long-term visions of technologies, policies and institutions to prevent and reduce the damages caused by drought.

Building Resilience to Hydrometeorological Hazards in SE Asia

Hosted by: Dolores Rey Vicario (Cranfield University)

Hydrometeorological hazards, including floods, droughts, landslides and storm surges, threaten lives and impact livelihoods. The incidence and severity of extreme weather is projected to increase due to climate change.Besides, in South East Asia, population growth, land-use change and urbanisation are increasing the number of people at risk from these hazards.A better understanding of the likely impacts and potential responses is needed to enable appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures and ultimately increase resilience. This session aims at presenting the main outcomes of several research projects jointly funded by the UK and countries in South East Asia through the Newton fund scheme. These projects bring together researchers from the UK and SE Asian countries(Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines,Malaysia) to work together on increasing our understanding on hydrometeorological hazards(e.g., droughts, floods, landslides)and their associated impacts on food and water security, economies and livelihoods, and health.The session is co-convened by two of these projects(STAR and ENRICH), focusing on drought risks and impacts in Thailand. The rest of the 16 projects funded by this programme (and others funded by a different programme but with the same focus) will be invited to contribute to the session. This session will be a unique opportunity to share experiences from these ongoing projects, identify commonalities and to discuss future steps for increasing resilience of SE Asia to hydrometeorological disasters.

Resilience to Water-Induced Disasters

Hosted by: Vishnu Prasad Pandey (IWMI), Mina Adhikari (NWCF) and Sanju Koirala (PEI)

Climate change is exacerbating hydro-climatic extremes and associated water-induced disasters. Water security is not only ensuring sufficient water for people and economic activities, but also about protecting us against water-related disasters and having healthy aquatic ecosystems (AWDO, 2016). Therefore, enhancing resilience to water-induced disasters, more importantly of those left-behind (e.g., women, elderly, children, differently-abled, etc.) are equally important for achieving the goal of water security. Disaster is more than a natural phenomenon; it is socially-constructed and has diverse aspects, which needs to be reflected in programs aimed at enhancing resilience and subsequently improving water security. Furthermore, different sections of a society are affected to a varying level of risks to the same resilience, due to various reasons. This session therefore, aims to answer following questions –

  • What are approaches for characterizing different drivers of water-induced disasters (i.e., natural roots, social roots, and developmental roots)?
  • How those left-behind are differently vulnerable than others to water-induced disasters and what makes that different? 
  • What are risks posed by different types of water-induced disasters (e.g., floods, droughts, etc.) for people and ecosystem at different socio-economic and natural settings? 
  • What are frameworks available for measuring resilience with specific focus on water-induced disasters and how can they be applied to different contexts?
  • What are workable ways (hard and soft) for enhancing resilience to WIDs? What are learnings from implementing resilience building programs?
Addressing Water-Related Disasters at the Local Level: Assessment and Strategy Development Tools and Approaches

Hosted by: Phurba Lhendup (AIT.RRC.AP)

The frequency and number of water-related disasters including floods and droughts has been observed to increase over the past two decades. These account for almost 90% of the 1,000 most disastrous events since 1990, with climate change driving and exacerbating risks and slow-onset disasters. Global annual losses from disasters are estimated to increase by over 60% from 2015 to 2030 to an average of USD 414 billion. Noting the risks posed by disaster to economic development and the overall achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, this session aims to provide information on existing assessment and strategy development tools and approaches helping local governments and communities improve risk management in the water sector.With a focus on the water dimensions of resilience-building in communities, points of discussion include the Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient to climate and disaster risks, integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into urban policy and planning processes, and the role of strategic partnerships in supporting this process. Presenters will be invited to note key challenges and opportunities faced by countries in Asia and the Pacific to mainstream concepts of resilience into local planning and policy development processes. They will also share insights on leveraging increased political commitment and social demand for disaster and climate resilient development pathways. The session will also point to pathways to address existing capacity gaps.

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