Adaptation in an age of uncertainty: tools for climate-resilient water management approaches

06 - Clean Water and Sanitation
13 - Climate Action

When :

from Thursday 17 June, 2021
to Thursday 17 June, 2021

Where :

Online from Paris, Paris, France

Contact :

Anil Mishra

Over the last decade, climate change is accelerating and disrupting national economies and affecting livelihoods, particularly through the impact on water and water-related hazards. Adequate planning for water resources management has been integrated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Paris Agreement highlights the role of sustainable development in reducing the risk of loss and damage. It also requests the UN agencies to support their Member States in order to enhance action on adaptation, highlighting adequate planning for policy making, as well as the identification of adaptation strategies.

In this context, UNESCO and various other organizations have developed a set of complementary resilient water management tools and approaches addressing climate risk and other uncertainties through innovative adaptation strategies. As highlighted in the 2020 edition of the World Water Development Report, these “bottom-up approaches” constitute a new generation of methodologies that embrace a participatory approach to identify water security hazards and pursue locally embedded solutions. As such, they facilitate robust, context-specific and flexible decision-making in water resources management, differing from the dominant paradigm guiding water management for the past half-century — namely the assumption that we can use past hydrological and climatic data to confidently predict (and plan for) the future.

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP), together with the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) and the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM), is hosting a series of webinars introducing the technical and practical components of bottom-up approaches, spanning a range of topics and underscored by examples of real-world applications.

Webinars take place on a monthly basis in the lead up to a global conference on Climate-Resilient Water Management Approaches being organized by the same institutions and tentatively set for October 2021. They are intended for technical water management professionals as well as individuals working in climate / water policy and planning. 

Webinar #7

Assessing Climate Risks for Semi-Arid Regions

The seventh webinar of the series “Climate-resilient Water Management Approaches: Adaptation in an Age of Uncertainty”, took place on June 17th, 2021, hosted by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP), together with the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) and the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM), and have highlight the challenges that climate change pose for semi-arid regions. Speakers showed us examples from India and Iran, focusing on the benefits of participatory system modeling and on the sustainability assessment at the basin level, respectively. The session was followed by an interactive Q&A with two invited panelists.


This video is also available in French

Webinar #6

Enhancing Urban Water Resilience: Case Studies from South America

The sixth webinar was held on Tuesday, 27 April 2021. This session focused on urban water resilience, bringing two presentations from South America, specifically from Ecuador and Bolivia, regarding the impacts of climate change and hydrological extremes and their consequences to urban water management. Hydro-climatic extremes such as heavy rainfall and floods are responsible for catastrophic impacts worldwide. Densely populated cities in coastal areas and river margins, increased impermeabilization of the land surface, and sea level rise tend to aggravate these problems. A Q&A session was held after the presentations, with the participation of local project partners, and also featured questions from the audience in order to facilitate an open discussion and provide for an interactive webinar.


This video is also available in Spanish


Webinar #5

Climate Risk Assessment on Hydropower

The fifth webinar took place on Wednesday, 10 March 2021. It focused on the climate-water-energy nexus, drawing upon experiences and lessons learned in South Asia. Presenters shared two different approaches to climate risk assessments recently applied in Sri Lanka and Nepal. The first presentation highlighted experience implementing a comprehensive analysis of infrastructure vulnerability in transport, water, and energy sectors by integrating a “top-down” climate science approach with a “bottom-up” stakeholder-driven approach in Sri Lanka’s Kelani River Basin. In the second presentation, speakers discussed their work assessing the future impacts of climate change on Nepal’s hydroelectricity sector and the associated findings. Presentations were followed by an interactive panel discussion featuring questions from the audience.


Webinar #4

Facing Uncertainty in Water Management: From Urban Water Supply to Agriculture

The fourth webinar took place on Friday, 22 January 2021. It illustrates multiple ways to approach and adapt to variability and uncertainty in cases ranging from urban to agricultural settings. First, speakers highlight the use of the Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis (CRIDA) methodology for addressing urban water supply challenges in Asia. In Bangkok, Thailand, and Colombo, Sri Lanka, CRIDA was used to identify potential vulnerabilities to municipal water supply systems and to propose concrete adaptation measures for reducing future risk to water security. In the second presentation, speakers cover the novel “Valuing Variability” concept that offers new perspectives on using water variability for food production in sub-Saharan Africa. Presenters share examples concerning water management in the African drylands, amongst producers specializing in animal husbandry and crop farming. To provide for an interactive webinar, each presentation is followed by a Q&A session featuring questions from the audience.


Webinar #3

Addressing Water Management Challenges through Decision Scaling and Adaptation Pathways

The third webinar in the series was held on 29 October 2020. Participants are introduced to two bottom-up approaches: Decision Scaling and Adaptation Pathways. Presenters touch on the processes’ history, relevance, and practical applications. To highlight their role in addressing water management challenges, presenters share real-life examples of case studies that were performed using the two approaches. The decision scaling approach was developed in order to assess the significance of climate risks and identifying system vulnerabilities in water resource projects. With an emphasis on flexibility as a means to achieve project objectives, the adaptation pathways approach allows users to plan a sequence of investments or policy actions over time while taking uncertainty and changing conditions into account. Open discussions are held with the audience via Q&A.


Webinar #2

Incorporating Climate Risks into Decision Making Through CRIDA: Perspectives from Zambia and Chile

The second webinar in the series took place on 24 September 2020. It introduces participants to real-life examples of case studies that were performed within Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis (CRIDA) - a collaborative framework meant to help decision makers, stakeholders, and water managers assess and address the risk and impacts of climate change on water resources. The CRIDA case study from Zambia explores the approaches that would increase the Iolanda Water Treatment Plant's ability to deliver acceptable levels of water supply to the utility that serves Zambia’s capital of Lusaka while incorporating plausible climate change risks into decision making. In Chile, water managers have used CRIDA in the Limarí river basin to identify specific climate-related risks and chart a path towards developing adaptation strategies at a watershed scale that ensure continued performance of key systems. Q&A sessions are run after each case study presentation, featuring interventions and questions from local project partners. The Q&A also feature questions from the audience in order to facilitate an open discussion and provide for an interactive webinar.


Webinar #1

An Introduction to Bottom-Up Approaches

The first webinar in the series took place on 16 July 2020. It introduces bottom-up approaches for resilient water management — their evolution, their potentials for application, and examples of successful implementation. Presenters discuss the means by which decision makers, policymakers, and even practitioners can better address uncertainties through the use of new frameworks such as Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis (CRIDA), published by UNESCO and ICIWaRM, and the World Bank’s Decision Tree Framework. Case studies from Thailand and Mexico are highlighting key elements of these complementary approaches and the wide-ranging stakeholders involved. Following a set of presentations, participants join the conversation through a moderated panel discussion.