Water quality and climate change

Typically, policy discussions and scientific studies today omit the important linkages between water quality and climate change, whereas the impacts of climate change on the quality of freshwater systems are likely to be significant. It is evident in our planet weather and climate patterns are changing and will continue to shift, which may increase in return the occurrence of extreme weather conditions and modify the normal balance of water bodies and ecosystems, leading to the degradation of water quality. These changes in water quality not only affect the economic and social welfare but also the sustainability of vital environmental flows, ecosystems and biodiversity. More scientific understanding is hence needed to address the physical, chemical, biological and socio-economic impacts that current and expected climate change have, and will continue to have, on the quality of the world’s freshwater resources. Furthermore, international initiatives and national strategies are equally important to promote necessary policy responses to this pressing water quality challenge, particularly for the attainment of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.  
 
UNESCO-IHP IIWQ is well positioned to deal with this new water quality challenge in the context of climate change. To draw attention on this new challenge and improve the understanding on climate change impacts on water quality, IIWQ is already working to:
  • Facilitate scientific discussion to improve understanding on how climate change affects water quality (physical, chemical and biological properties) globally, as well as effects on environmental goods and services, human health and socioeconomic activities.  
  • Create awareness on impacts of current and projected climate change on water quality.
  • Promote and develop effective technology and policy responses to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts on water quality.
  • Share responses, best practices and lessons learnt on climate change impacts in water quality to support Member States. 
This session on “Water Quality and Climate Change/ Ecohydrology” held under the UNESCO-IHP International Initiative on Water Quality (IIWQ) aimed to discuss the often not addressed nor studied interconnections of water quality with the changes in climate around the world and the effects these changes have over the quality of water resources. This event brought water quality specialists and intergovernmental and governmental representatives together from both developing and developed countries. 
 
The Symposium, bringing together scientists from around the world, focused on a dialogue on the evaluation of climate change impacts on a wide range of water quality issues and provided a platform for sharing research findings in this area with the wider scientific community.
 
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