Adapting Water Management to Climate Change

The primary purpose of this policy brief is to suggest options that promote water management strategies that are already viable in terms of coping with present problems, and which will become even more urgent when projected climate change impacts are taken into account.

As a background, we present a general overview of observed and projected impacts of climate change on water resources, as summarized by IPCC, and an overview of the key concepts of adaptation and vulnerability to climate change, including specific examples of adaptation strategies now in practice.

However, it is not enough to point out good examples. Good examples all work in local contexts that influence and dictate their success. The sustainability of such examples, including their potential to disperse to other regions, is often hampered by barriers of different kinds. Overcoming barriers may be the most important function of policies, whether they are local or global.

But modifying successful adaptation examples to local pre-conditions – whether cultural, institutional or climatic – is also essential. Therefore, some observations regarding barriers to implementation, maintenance and diffusion of adaptation measures are presented.