Climate Change and Water Management - Adaptation Strategies for Europe


How can societies adapt to the consequences of global change? This question gains importance at EU level given the alarming trends that are being observed, and is one of the focal points of the German EU presidency in 2007. This project analyses the challenges that climate change poses to water management in Europe, and develops options and strategies to meet these challenges.


Global climate change entails multiple impacts on regional water balance that partly are already being observed and partly are predicted by modelling studies. The rise of temperatures may, for instance, exacerbate existing water shortages, impair water quality or enhance the frequency and intensity of floods and droughts. These changes in water resources and water-related extreme events are likely to affect social and economic development in the EU and may lead to conflicts between different water users.

Aims of the Project

The German EU presidency hosted the Symposium “Time to Adapt – Climate Change and the European Water Dimension” in February 2007 which discussed both the effects of climate change on European water resources and possible adaptation strategies in water management. In a research project that prepared the event and evaluates its results, Ecologic together with the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research review scientific evidence related to the effects of climate change on regional water balance, and on this basis identify challenges to water management in Europe and develop strategies for adaptation.

This project complements and supports recent European-level efforts to improve the information basis on climate change impacts on water resources and to promote the development of adaptation strategies. Project work was co-ordinated with the European Environment Agency’s activities, and the recently published EEA report “Climate change and water adaptation issues” was co-authored by Ecologic. The ground for the German Symposium was prepared by a workshop organised by the European Commission in September 2006, which discussed climate change impacts on the water cycle and promoted dialogue between scientists and policy-makers.

Project work is done in three steps:

  1. Evaluation and presentation of the current state of research. It is assessed which changes in water resources and in the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as floods and droughts are to be expected in the future.
  2. Analysis of vulnerability and adaptive capacity of different regions in Europe. This part of the project assesses which concrete problems water management in the respective regions will be faced with, and which resources are at their disposal to react to these challenges. The analysis is based on an evaluation of adaptation strategies of EU Member States that have already been developed, on a survey among EU Member States and on expert interviews.
  3. Policy options and strategic recommendations. The proposals take into account the existing legal instruments and administrative structures.

A number of discussion papers that are based on project results, as well as an evaluation of the survey, are available at the conference web site. The full results of the study will be summarised in a final report which will be  published by the Federal Environment Agency towards the end of 2007.

More content from this project

Thomas Dworak
Julia Rüsch
Anna Leipprand
Fred Hattermann (PIK)
Valentina Krysanova (PIK)
Susanne Kadner (PIK)
Project ID
climate change, water, adaptation, floods, droughts
Europe, Germany

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