Water security: offering solutions to 21st century challenges

Under the influence of climate change, the water cycle is changing at a rate that is putting populations at risk. Scientific research is enabling us to understand and predict these variations in order to adapt to them. On 7 and 8 July, water experts came together to assess challenges and solutions during the sessions “Climate Change and freshwater resources: 1. State of Knowledge and 2. Shaping the Future”, organized during the International Scientific Conference “Our Common Future under Climate Change”.

During the first session they explored how science is helping to understand the variability of the water cycle and predict the impacts of climate change, with a view to offering adaptation solutions. Key findings of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were presented, as well as projections of the impacts of various scenarios on water resources. Water directly influences our future. If we understand how to protect and manage it properly, it is a key element in policies to combat poverty and support sustainable development.

The need to improve links between science and society was underscored when discussing the best ways forward. There was agreement that while change itself is not new, the rate of vulnerability to which society is exposed, as a consequence of interactions with water resources that impact the water cycle and the global system, is unprecedented and increasing. Scientists need to acknowledge that the system is in a state of continual evolution. Understanding the ways in which we interact with this system could lead to solutions for adaptation and mitigation under climate change.

Socio-hydrology was suggested as a holistic approach to better shape the future of our water resources. Its multidisciplinary vision can help to understand, predict and translate findings into policies. To achieve this, citizen sciences and a community of practices (Knowledge Forum) and trained experts acting as a knowledge brokers are required to provide tools and mechanisms allowing managers to appropriate scientific findings for translation into policies.

The sessions were co-organized by the International Hydrological Programme (IHP-UNESCO), the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Alliance Nationale de Recherche pour l'Environnement (AllEnvi).

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