Water in a Changing World: The Implications of Climate Change on Water



Highlights on Climate Change from the UN World Water Development Report 3

The World Water Assessment Programme launched the third UN World Water Development Report, Water in a Changing World, in March 2009 at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul.

The Implications of Climate Change on Water summarizes some of the key messages from that report, highlighting the potential impacts of a changing climate on the availability of water and on the control of water extremes.


Key Messages

  • There is mounting evidence in many regions of the impact of climate
    change on the earth’s hydrological cycle
  • Climate change is a basic driver of change in water resource availability and use alongside demographic, economic, social and technological forces, with which it interacts in a dynamic fashion.
  • Lateral thinking ‘out of the box’ is essential both from those within the
    water sector and all others whose decisions have a major impact on water.
  • Information about the status of availability and use of water and the
    potential impact of climate change is too poor to support informed policy decisions. There is an urgent need to gather, analyse and model data at all relevant levels – globally, regionally and locally – and to reverse the decline in observational systems.
  • Alongside mitigation, Governments must adapt to climate change,
    and give priority to water resources management as a key aspect of
    adaptation to changes already in train.
  • Due to future uncertainties, the keynote for adaptation must be resilience – managing risks and building the capacity to deal with unpredictable events. No-regret and low-regret measures should be prioritised.


Posted December 2009