Approximately six billion people will face water scarcity by 2050, which will further be exacerbated by climate change. Some regions stand to lose up to 6% of their GDP and could face mass migration and conflict as a result of these changes.
The new report seeks to identify ways to mitigate these multiple crises. It argues that a combined approach that blends Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) approaches will be more effective and make the most efficient use of resources. The authors of the report label water ‘the ultimate connector’ that links most aspects of society and economic sectors. Better water management is therefore the obvious place to focus efforts and resources, when government bodies and organisations seek to mitigate the key crises faced by the global community today, including climate change and water scarcity.
Gareth James Lloyd is the Deputy Chief Manager of the UNEP-DHI Centre, which leverages DHI’s technologies to support UNEP’s mandate and policy leadership within freshwater management. He states,
’Climate change is drastically accelerating the global water crisis, and all regions of the globe are affected. Many developing countries are feeling the impacts of the climate change and water crisis to a wider extent than other parts of the globe, and resources for mitigation are often limited. This is why a report such as this can be of major value to decision-makers as they will have clear guidance on action that will enable them to address the situation.’
Through a number of case studies, the report demonstrates how IWRM-CCA cooperation has led to tangible benefits in a variety of contexts and across a number of dimensions. It also offers a detailed set of recommendations allowing decision-makers within both IWRM and CCA to identify fruitful areas for collaboration. These recommendations include:
- Collecting and sharing data on water, climate and ecosystems across sectors
- Making better use of climate-resilient IWRM as an adaptation solution
- Aligning policies, planning processes and metrics when updating water regulations and CCA planning
- Fostering cross-sectoral cooperation in long-term programme planning, strategies and budgets
- Making accountability, transparency and efficiency adjustments to improve funding management
- Developing innovative long-term financing mechanisms by engaging with a range of water-related stakeholders to build partnerships
- Turning high level political leaders and decision-makers into IWRM and CCA champions
- Accelerating decision-making processes for better adaptation to water-related risks.
The report finds that many countries are already implementing management instruments and governance in their water actions for adaptation. But the authors also point out that there is a unique opportunity in viewing threats to society in terms of systemic risk, where water is often the linking element.