Past Abstract Details


2010 talk

INVITED KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Adapting the Water Paradigm to a Changing World

Hellmuth, Molly 1

1 International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at the Earth Institute of Columbia University

Achieving water security is a major challenge of the century, particularly in developing country contexts. Population growth and economic development are significantly increasing water demands; while decreasing water quality is contributing to a decline in water availability. Globally, countries with higher rainfall variability have been shown to correlate with lower GDP (Brown and Lall, 2006). While financial, human and economic losses from extreme hydro-climatic events are increasing, due in part to population growth in marginal areas and land use changes. Climate change is expected to exacerbate these challenges through increased frequency and severity of extreme events.

There has been a significant shift in the water management paradigm, from a strong focus on supply side (‘hard path’) solutions to include ‘soft path’ solutions- focused more on demand-side efficiencies, while including consideration of ecological integrity, stakeholder needs and equity (Gleick, 2009). For instance, climate risk management is an approach which seeks to promote sustainable development by helping to manage vulnerability associated with both short term climate variability and longer term climate change. Improved climate information, from historical to future, can improve efficiency in operational and strategic decision making, but implementation requires overcoming policy, institutional, information and capacity gaps.   






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