Water in Climate Change: A Background Report of CIPRA

Within the project “cc.alps – climate change: thinking one step further!” the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA) investigates climate response measures in the Alps. CIPRA compiles information on climate protection activities and adjustments to climate change in the Alps (hereinafter referred to as climate response measures) and analyses the impacts of these climate measures on the environment, economy and society. CIPRA‘s aim is to make climate response measures comply with the principles of sustainable development, to make these information accessible to a broader public, and to warn the public of those measures that have negative effects on nature, the environment, social cohesion and the economy.

The “CIPRA compact” series comprises several thematic publications that take a critical look at climate measures in the Alps. The series covers the following activities in addition to the subject of “water”: energy, building and refurbishing, energy self-sufficient regions, spatial planning, transport, tourism, natural hazards, nature protection, forestry and agriculture.

The Water in Climate Change compact deals with actual and proposed climate change response measures in the water sector. CIPRA’s key concerns about trends in the water sector, given the region’s role as the “water tower of Europe” and the expected impacts of a changing climate, are given in section 2. Section 3 begins with an overview of the water sector and projected impacts of climate change in the region, as well as summarizing other inter-related trends in water management. It goes on to outline how stakeholders are responding to the situation, analyse the climate change response measures and address necessary policy changes. A summary of the situation and the author’s main conclusions are given in section 4. Section 5 details exemplary projects that demonstrate effective ways to respond to climate change (and other inter-related development trends), which are compatible with sustainable development. Relevant references and links are listed in section 6.


Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: South Asia

Growing understanding of the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change has led to a significant increase in ongoing and planned adaptation action in the developing regions of the world, including South Asia. This upsurge in climate change adaptation action is a welcome occurrence, but enhanced coordination among expanding networks of adaptation actors is needed to ensure resources are deployed quickly and effectively. Responding to this concern, a review of current and planned adaptation action in Central Asia was undertaken by the Adaptation Partnership1 between October 2010 and April 2011. Covering the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the rapid review examined: priority adaptation needs; efforts by governments to support adaptation though policy and planning; the scope of international support for adaptation efforts in different countries and sectors; and potential gaps in adaptation efforts at the country and regional levels. This review of adaptation action in South Asia is one of 12 profiles covering regions in Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean completed by the Adaptation Partnership.

Review of Climate Change Adaptation Practices in South Asia

Climate change is predicted to have severe consequences for South Asia, particularly in agriculture, which employs more than 60 per cent of the region’s labor force.

Some of the predicted impacts of climate change include: increased variability in both monsoon and winter rainfall patterns; increases in average temperatures, with warmer winters; increased salinity in coastal areas; weakening ecosystems; the recession of glaciers in the Himalayas; and increased frequency and/or severity of extreme weather events (floods, cyclones, and droughts).

Adaptation efforts in South Asia have so far been fragmented, lacking a strong link between national climate change strategies and plans, and existing disaster risk reduction, agricultural, and other relevant policies. This disconnect partly stems from a lack of conceptual understanding and partly from the ongoing debate as to what constitutes adaptation and what represents good and sustainable development.

Focusing on five countries in the region (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka), this review captures examples of good practice in climate change adaptation programming, in order to inform Oxfam’s learning, enabling it and other organizations to replicate some of these good practices in their own programs and to advocate their adequate financing and governance.

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Advisor, Conservation Science

Missoula County Climate Action: Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Community

Missoula County is host to a diversity of people, local industries, intact ecosystems, and dramatic scenery. Its rivers and forests provide abundant opportunity for outdoor activities while the university and bustling downtown Missoula provide culture and entertainment. When people are asked why they live in Missoula County, they often refer to the high quality of life that is available here.

Missoula County's quality of life is at risk, however, from a variety of pressures and challenges that range fro population growth to energy and water demands. Unfortunately, one primary threat has the capacity to overwhelm and affect all others- the threat of climate change. Climate change is expected to have substantial impacts to the natural systems of Missoula County, including rivers, streams, forests and wildlife. These impacts will in turn affect infrastructure, emergency response capacity, human health, tourism, agriculture, forestry and many other facets of society.

We assessed how a changing climate might affect Missoula County using the latest science and local expertise in a community-based process called ClimateWise. The ClimateWise process included climate change model output, a community workshop that involved expert participation from throughout different sectors and interests, and close guidance by a local Steering Committee.

During the ClimateWise process, groups of experts and leaders from across the different sectors of the community developed a suite of strategies for "climate change adaptation" - the process of preparing for climate change to reduce overall impacts to natural and human communities. We view these strategies as a critical first step in what will need to be an ongoing process as the climate, scientific understanding of the earth's processes, and other drivers such as population growth, change over time.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.



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36° 46' 41.7396" N, 119° 25' 4.5552" W
California US
Tool Overview: 

Cal-adapt is a web-based climate adaptation planning tool. Cal-adapt allows the user to identify potential climate change risks in specific geographic areas throughout the state. Users can either query by location, or click on an interactive map to explore what climate impacts are projected to occur in their area of interest. Cal-adapt synthesizes volumes of existing downscaled climate change scenarios and climate impact research and presents it in an easily available, graphical layout that is intended to benefit local planning efforts.