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Water, Climate, Risk and Adaptation

Authors: Marcus Moench; Sarah Opitz-Stapleton

Scientific consensus now confirms that whatever is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, human-induced changes in climate are now inevitable. While reductions in heat-trapping emissions are required to reduce the extent of such changes, adaptation to change will be essential as well. In this paper, the authors argue that effective strategies for managing risks associated with climate change require balancing of the following approaches: 1) attempts to control hydrologic systems through large-scale structural interventions; 2) attempts to reduce the impacts of variability through more distributed interventions; 3) shifts in livelihood systems, settlement locations and economic activities in ways that reduce exposure to climate impacts; and 4) diversification and financial mechanisms to pool and spread risk. This paper approaches climate related water resource issues primarily through a risk management lens. This approach has been selected on both scientific perspective, understanding and managing risks is essential to respond to the increased variability and uncertainty in local weather conditions that are among the most likely consequences of climatic change.


Citation: Moench, M., & Stapleton, S. (2007). Water, climate, risk and adaptation (Working Paper 2007-01). Delft, Nederlands: Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET).

Funded By: NeWater