Climate Change and Water

Boats on the river Nile

Climate change is already one of the most important factors influencing the distribution of water resources geographically and over time. The water cycle is a central component of the global climate system. Even minor changes of the climate can have significant impacts on the regional availability of water. But in some regions we do not know yet how exactly climate change will affect the water cycle, so a closer look at specific regional challenges is important. Water resilience is fundamental for climate adaptation. In addition, water has a significant and untapped mitigation potential: The water sector can make an important contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases – and hence to the ambitious raising of National Determined Contributions (NDCs). Fostering a sustainable use of water – through integrated water management approaches – in particular bears a great reduction potential.

Against this background, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) commissioned adelphi and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) to carry out a project on the links between water and climate change. Within the project, a study is prepared to provide actors in the water sector with current knowledge of the links and interactions between water and climate change – adaptation as well as mitigation. In addition, the manifold co-benefits of sustainable water management approaches are explored to identify opportunities for the water sector in the area of climate finance. Based on these findings, recommendations on future activities are developed to show how the water sector could make a more impactful contribution to climate action. Since large parts of Africa are disproportionally affected by water-related climate risks, the study has an African focus, analysing the catchment areas of the Niger, Nile and Limpopo. Additional focus areas are the Amazon and Ganges rivers.

adelphi takes the lead in compiling fact sheets, a policy brief and a final report that consolidates the results of the study. These documents aim to help all stakeholders in politics and the economy to strengthen the water sector as a factor in adapting to and mitigating climate change.

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