New UNESCO publications: the impact of climate change on water security
Jelle van den Biggelaar
On 23 October 2018, UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) launched 3 publications on the impact of climate change on water security. The event took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, with participation of Monique Berendsen of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water. She stressed the timeliness of policy instruments like these: “For the first time this year all five big storm surges in the Netherlands had to be closed due to high sea level and storm. We are facing a new unknown”.
To address this uncertainty, decision-makers can now count on the following three publications:
- Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis (CRIDA)
- The Andean Glacier and Water Atlas
- The Latin American and Caribbean Drought Atlas
The CRIDA offers a general framework to policy makers to assess their water security. It is the result of a cooperation between Deltares, a Dutch research institute in the field of water, and the US army core. “Combining the best of both worlds”, said Monique Berendsen. Ad Jeuken of Deltares stressed the importance of working together: “We all need each other in order to understand our current climate system and find the best way to manage our water. With CRIDA policy makers will be able to take decisions faster an easier.”
Gustaaf Borchardt, Chair of the Governing Board of the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Center in Delft, The Netherlands, (IGRAC) addressed the importance of groundwater in regard to water security. While groundwater is the major source of drinking water, little research has been done: “and we cannot manage what we cannot measure”.
Glaciers and droughts
The Andean Glacier and Water Atlas focuses on the effects glacier melting has on water resources in the Andean countries. Storage of glacier water is one of the main topics of the publication. The Latin American and Caribbean Drought Atlas provides an assessment of drought hazards in the Latin American region as the region is very vulnerable for drought.
Overall the publications will enable policy makers to take better decisions in the uncertainty of the future climate changes. The different speakers paid extra attention to the upcoming Year of Snow and Ice in 2020 where more attention will be given to water security on the UN agenda.