EUSDR Priority Area(s): PA 4 Water Quality, PA 5 Environmental Risks Submitted by: PA 4
Climate change is becoming a global challenge and it is a crosscutting issue. EUSDR PA 4 supports a number of related actions in which water availability and water quality are key issues to climate change adaptation as stated in the EUSDR Action Plan (Action 6 of PA 4). Moreover, climate change issues are involved among PA 5 activities.
Among others, PA 4 organised a conference on adaptation to climate change under the Slovak EUSDR Presidency (2021) and prepared a study (2020) and leaflet on water retention measures in urban areas (2021). It supports a number of international projects on replenishing groundwater supplies by managed aquifer recharge (Deepwater-CE), small water and nutrient retention measures (FramWat, OPTAIN), floodplain restoration (DanubeFloodplain), management of drought related risks (DriDanube), water quality and ecosystem services (IDES), local water retention measures (LIFE LOGOS 4 WATERS). PA 4 contributed in the development of a “Guidance paper on Climate Change Induced Water Quantity Issues”, prepared in the frame of the JOINTISZA project, focusing on the extreme climate events in Tisza sub-basin scale. PA 4 is planning to assist in setting up an international project to determine water balance for the whole Danube Region and others related to climate change.
PA 4 Action Plan, Action 6 objectives:
- Implement water quality measures of the ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change.
- Promote concrete measures to control water abstraction and groundwater overexploitation
- Promote the establishment and maintenance of green infrastructure and natural water retention measures (NWRMs)
- Promote water related measures in urban planning
- Raise farmers and public awareness about the importance of soil moisture and soil water retention capacity in soil fertility under changing climate conditions
The process focused on climate change aims at sharing experience and best practices in climate change adaptation emphasising (green) water retention measures, which contribute to better water quality and water availability in the Danube Region. Many initiatives labelled as “climate change adaptation” have emerged in the Danube Region countries. This indicates growing awareness over the last decade on how important the adaptation component has become in numerous sectors of the economy. There are already good stories and first lessons learnt from introduction of novel approaches in water and landscape management. However, there are still a lot of challenges, which need to be addressed jointly with support at political level from top-down viewpoint, and horizontally by various stakeholders and EUSDR Priority Areas.
Need and (expected) impact
Continuing climate change, especially climate extremes – floods and droughts, pose the challenges on water quality and water availability for all users. This includes increased uncertainty and variability of extreme weather events. Therefore, adaptation strategies in the water sector need to address several emerging trends driven by climate change as interventions on supply and demand side. While supply side adaptation options involve measures for water retention in the country, demand side include measures to ensure water for key consumers and critical infrastructure, including ecosystems. The addressed water retention measures (e.g. polders, lakes, ditches, dams) flatten the flood waves, store the water for dry periods, enable recharging groundwater supplies, and are favourable for ecosystems. Moreover, the potential conflicts among users in drought periods must be clearly managed within emergency plans. Besides water accessibility from a quantitative viewpoint, the adequate water quality should be maintained.
Adaptation to climate change is very difficult since there are not enough relevant data and it often turns into maladaptation: decisions may fail to meet their objectives, and they may even increase vulnerability of other systems. This is a case of water management sector as well e.g. development of an irrigation system may result in water shortage as the consequence of climate change. The implementation of climate change adaptation measures should be considered in complex way. When designing adaptation projects, there is a need to assess the negative externalities associated with infrastructure projects on both ecosystem and human sides.
Since climate change is a global problem, it reaches the whole Danube Region. Therefore, the adaptation measures will be functional and effective only if they are applied transnationally, so at macro-regional level. Many of the Danube countries have already adopted the Climate Change Adaptation Strategies and applied first measures to avoid adverse impacts of droughts/floods. However, it is still not enough and to apply measures into practice should be supported and properly implemented.
Policy and decision makers at government bodies of Danube Region countries, international water related bodies, think tanks entities, NGOs, academic and research sector, land users, water service providers, and practitioners in urban planning.
Regular cooperation with the mentioned organisations, ensured by trilateral and SG meetings, joint events.
Budget and Funding
The process has already been partly financed by implementation of the PA 4 relevant projects related to climate change. The transnational projects were financed by Interreg Central Europe, Interreg Danube Transnational programme, Horizon 2020 and LIFE programmes.
The new financing is needed to be allocated for climate change adaptation related projects and processes (e.g. negotiations, meetings, conferences, workshops and public awareness raising campaigns).
PAC PA 4: Balázs Horváth: email@example.com