Where water and climate change meet


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This week, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, or COP21, will gather countries that want to take action for the climate. A central topic of these discussions will focus on the intersection of water and climate change.

Combating climate change is everyone’s business. Reducing emissions and investing in renewable energy, improving city planning and building design standards, developing more efficient transportation, and reducing deforestation (among others) all play key roles in mitigating the effects of climate change. At the same time, countries, and industries, will also need to adapt to changes in the climate as they unfold. Since climate change will significantly increase the variability of rainfall, different parts of the world will become more vulnerable to floods or droughts. 

“Water scarcity and variability pose significant risks to all economic activities, including food and energy production, manufacturing and infrastructure development,“ said Laura Tuck, World Bank Group Vice President for Sustainable Development during a recent press conference at COP21. “Poor water management can exacerbate the effects of climate change on economic growth, but if water is managed well it can go a long way to neutralizing the negative impacts.”

Managing water variability — including its nexus with food and energy — is becoming one of the key development challenges facing the world today. Helping the poor adapt to this changing future is everyone’s business. 

“Water is so fundamental to life and to economic development, and it’s vital we tackle these issues particularly in the developing world, where water stress is already exacting a price on people and economies ,” said Junaid Ahmad, Senior Director for Water, World Bank Group.

Climate change may worsen the situation by increasing water stress and extreme-weather events. Hence, the water and climate nexus can no longer be put aside. This week and beyond, water security must be central to climate discussions for the very reasons outlined below:


Estimates show that with current practices, the world will face a 40% shortfall between forecasted demand and available supply of water by 2030.
Photo credit: Markus Kostner / World Bank

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By 2030, the world could face 40% shortfall b/t #watersupply and demand. #COP21 #ClimateIsWater  

Today, agriculture accounts for 70% of global water withdrawals. Feeding nine billion people by 2050 will require a 60% increase in agricultural production and a 15% increase in water withdrawals. 
Photo credit: Thomas Sennett / World Bank

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Today, #agriculture accounts for 70% of global #water withdrawals. #COP21 #ClimateIsWater  

Groundwater is being depleted at a rate faster than it is being replenished. By 2025, about 1.8 billion people will be living in regions or countries with absolute water scarcity.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

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#Groundwater is depleted faster than it's replenished. #COP21 #waterscarcity #ClimateIsWater  

The intensity of extreme weather-related events has increased. No country — rich or poor — is immune from the impacts of climate-related disasters, which usually manifest through water extremes like droughts and floods.
Photo credit: Farhana Asnap / World Bank
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No country is immune from #climate-related disasters (droughts, floods). #COP21 #ClimateIsWater  
World Bank Group client countries and their citizens already face extreme weather changes. To help these countries strengthen their resilience against climate change, we must do our best to support client countries as they make climate-smart investments in their future.
Photo credit: Curt Carnemark / World Bank
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Global community must help ensure #COP21 prioritizes #watersecurity. #ClimateIsWater #goal6   
Urban water management must consider the effects of climate change, including rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, and climate variability, on water resource availability.
Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

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BLOG: #ResilientCities require more #sustainable use of #water. #COP21 #ClimateIsWater #cities   

Significant amounts of water are needed in almost all energy generation processes, from generating hydropower, to cooling and other purposes in thermal power plants, to extracting and processing fuels. But energy and water resources are under unprecedented pressure, and there is growing competition for their use from
people, industries, ecosystems, and growing economies. Climate change will add more uncertainty through increased water variability and more frequent and severe floods and droughts.
Photo credit: Dana Smillie / World Bank
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#ClimateChange critical to @WorldBankWater’s #ThirstyEnergy initiative. #COP21 #ClimateIsWater  
Transboundary cooperation allows countries to advance sound and sustainable regional and national infrastructures for storing, regulating, and exploiting their water resources. As a result, these countries will be able to reduce their vulnerability in the face of increasing climate variability and shifting long-term water availability trends.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
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Transboundary #water cooperation in #Africa boosts #climateresilience. #COP21 #ClimateIsWater  

Related links:

Water Blog: Why it's time to elevate groundwater
Water Blog: How can we ensure that we build water and climate resilient cities?
Water Blog: Transboundary water cooperation helps build climate resilience
Thirsty Energy: Securing Energy in a Water-Constrained World

Join the Conversation

Okoye Chukwuma Franklin
December 26, 2015

the rate of evaporation varies a great deal, depending on temperature and relative humidity, which impacts the amount of water available to replenish groundwater supplies. The combination of shorter duration but more intense rainfall (meaning more runoff and less infiltration) combined with increased evapotranspiration (the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the earth's land surface to atmosphere) and increased irrigation is expected to lead to groundwater depletion (Konikow and Kendy 2005).

December 11, 2015

Indeed, combating climate change is everyone's business, and should be a joint effort. However, there must be a global acceptance that there are those who bear more of both historical and recurrent responsibility towards climate change. With this acceptance, should be a clear assignment of responsibility towards ensuring that there is reversal of such effect. In this article, there is a clear statement on need for water sector to adapt, yet very little effort is made at the climate talks, COP 21, to elevate the reality that many communities across the world need to do exactly that. For the water sector, and the development sphere to be able to cope with the impact of a continually changing climate, adaptation must be at the core of any agreement reached in Paris.