Nature-based Solutions (NbS) can help ensure the long-term reliability of water resources. Research has shown they can – depending on circumstance – be more cost-effective and longer-lasting than grey infrastructure, while generating multiple co-benefits for carbon, biodiversity and human health. Despite the promise of NbS, however, water sector actors and their financiers usually prioritize investments in traditional grey infrastructure because they are more familiar with its costs, benefits and returns. Most of them are unfamiliar with how to develop and assess the value of NbS projects, though research shows they’re interested in tapping into their multi-faceted benefits.

The Financing Nature for Water Security project of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) aims to produce and disseminate guidance that enables water sector actors (government agencies, water utilities, grass-root NGOs) and their funders (donors, development banks and private investors) to invest in NbS-WS, at scale, by mobilizing sustainable funding and repayable financing. The project comprises of technical modules, guidance documents, supporting databases and training materials.

FutureWater has been contracted by TNC to support the development of one of the content modules assembled under the project. The module “Technical Options” will help the reader understand the water security challenge(s) they are confronted with and identify the types of NbS that could help address those challenges. In particular, Futurewater works on the creation of 12 technical factsheets to be included in an annex to the main documentation, with each factsheet highlighting the key technical aspects, benefits and risks, and economic dimensions of an NbS. In addition, an inventory of relevant NbS databases, platforms, and references is delivered.

FutureWater and IDOM have delivered the final report titled “Prognosis: Trends and Scenarios” developed in project “Indicative Land Use Plan for (PIOTA) for the Panama Canal Basin (PCB)”. The PIOTA-CHCP project, which is led by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), aims to produce strategic guidelines to achieve sustainable and climate-robust territorial and socioeconomic development in the river basin.

The report recently delivered to the ACP includes a detailed analysis on how water security in the basin can be affected by a plausible range of socioeconomic development, land use changes and climate change trajectories which have been envisioned and projected for the region. Also, a wide range of adaptation options and policies were assessed which can reduce the vulnerabilities around climate change. For this purpose, a Robust Decision Making Methodology (RDM) has been adopted that combines the usage of a coupled model of surface hydrology and water supply-demand, and the numerical simulation of a wide range of territorial, climatic and adaptation scenarios (Figure 1). These analyses resulted in so-called “Climate Response Surfaces” (CRS) of the basin, from which the climatic robustness of the system can be assessed. Concrete recommendations and adaptation pathways follow from this analysis, as guidance for the Land Use Plan.

Flow diagram of Robust Decision Making methodology used (left) and a schematic of the WEAP model.
Figure 1. Flow diagram of Robust Decision Making methodology used (left) and a schematic of the WEAP model.

The delivery of the final report has been preceded by different activities that included:

  • Technical meetings with decision makers and technical staff of the ACP. These meetings aimed to: a) guarantee the integration of the results derived from the previous stage of the project, b) design, built and parameterize the WEAP-CHCP model, and c) define the most plausible scenarios of territorial development and adaptation.
  • A capacity building and training course focused on the general use of the WEAP modelling tool, and particularly on the WEAP-CHCP model built for the PIOTA project.
  • Two participatory public workshops which aimed to present and validate the intermediate results of the prognostic phase in close cooperation with all the key stakeholders in the region (Figure 2).
Participants in the workshop on outcomes of the water resources and climate robustness assessment which was organized online due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Figure 2. Participants in the workshop on outcomes of the water resources and climate robustness assessment which was organized online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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More than 44% of the European Union’s future agricultural imports, such as coffee, cocoa and soybean, could become highly vulnerable to drought by 2050 as a result of climate change, suggests a paper in Nature Communications. The findings highlight the increasing vulnerabilities of agricultural imports to climate change.

The vulnerability of the agricultural sector to climate change is of increasing concern. Adapting to changing climates will require an understanding of which crops are most vulnerable to issues such as drought, and how vulnerabilities will change in the future compared to current climatic conditions.

FutureWater, Ertug Ercin and colleagues quantified and mapped cross-border climate vulnerabilities of the EU’s agricultural and food economy in relation to drought severity in non-EU countries in the years 2030, 2050 and 2085, under a high (RCP 6.0) and low (RCP 2.6) emissions scenario. The authors suggest that under a high emissions scenario, more than 44% of the EU’s imports will be highly vulnerable to drought in 2050. They indicate that drought severity in production locations of agricultural imports in 2050 will increase by 35% compared to current levels. The authors identified coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, oil palm and soybean as the most climate vulnerable EU crop imports, with many major crop imports forecast to come from high-drought risk locations, such as Brazil, Indonesia and India, in the future.

The findings highlight the interconnected nature of global imports and exports in the agricultural sector, and point to the importance of climate adaptation in international trade. Read more in the just published scientific paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-23584-0

“Gabon is a rapidly developing country that contains substantial amount of intact natural areas and biodiversity, and large untapped natural resource stocks, placing the country at the forefront of a green economic development opportunities. TNC supports the government in preserving Hydrologic Ecosystem Services which are essential to include into development projects as for example hydropower.

This study will assess these services for the Komo basin where certain pressure already exists due to forestry operations and planned hydropower. It will evaluate various management scenarios which may improve and sustain hydrological flow conditions and hydropower options. The analysis will help the government in implementing an integrated water resources management (IWRM) approach in this basin.

FutureWater will deliver this study through hydrological modeling and scenario analysis to assess how hydrological ecosystem services provision in the Komo basin can be improved by a series of potential alternative scenarios based.”

The proposed Mombasa Water Fund should secure and improve the quantity and quality of source waters for Mombasa City by channelling investments into source protection and catchment conservation measures of the watersheds. Current spring- and groundwater-based water supply infrastructure is insufficient to meet the city’s growing demands. Focus of the study is therefore on the watershed that serves a new water reservoir (Mwache Dam).

The design study will:

  • Assess the biophysical, financial, economic and socio-economic benefits of the MWF; and
  • Identify the potential governance and financing models to establish the MWF

FutureWater performs the biophysical analysis of this study. It aims to link activities in the watershed with positive outcomes for water security. Different combinations of solutions (nature-based primarily) are simulated through an hydrological modelling tool to assess impacts on water quantity and quality, including erosion and sediment yield. The model allows also to assess water demand versus supplies and resulting possible future shortages. Outputs are used in the economic analysis that will cost and valuate different alternative scenarios. The business case study should enable the creation of another successful Water Fund in sub-Saharan Africa promoted by The Nature Conservancy.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDCs) Global Programme Climate Change and Environment (GP CCE) India is supporting the operationalization of climate change adaptation actions in the mountain states of Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh through the phase two of the “Strengthening State Strategies for Climate Action” (3SCA) project that was launched in 2020. The second phase of 3SCA (2020-23), known as the Strengthening Climate Change Adaptation in Himalayas (SCA-Himalayas), while building on the experience and achievements of Phase 1, aims to showcase mountain ecosystem appropriate scalable approaches for climate resilience in water and disaster risk management sectors; using these efforts to enhance the capacities of the institutions across the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) to plan, implement and mainstream adaptation actions into their programmes and policy frameworks; and disseminating the experiences and lessons at the regional and global level.

Within this programme, SDC has granted a project to FutureWater, together with Utrecht University, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the University of Geneva and a few individual experts. The activities in this project focus on the development and application of climate responsive models and approaches for integrated water resources management (IWRM) for a selected glacier-fed sub-basin system in Uttarakhand and that at the same will find place in relevant policy frameworks paving way for their replication across IHR and other mountainous regions. This will allow the policy makers from the mountain states in India to manage the available water resources in an efficient and effective manner, benefiting the populations depending on these resources.

The combination of future climate change and socio-economic development poses great challenges for water security in areas depending on mountain water (Immerzeel et al., 2019). Climate change affects Asia’s high mountain water supply by its impact on the cryosphere. Changes in glacier ice storage, snow dynamics, evaporation rates lead to changes in runoff composition, overall water availability, seasonal shifts in hydrographs, and increases in extremely high and low flows (Huss and Hock, 2018; Lutz et al., 2014a). On the other and, downstream water demand in South Asia increases rapidly under population growth and increasing welfare boosting the demand for and electricity generation through hydropower. To address and adapt to these challenges integrated water resource management (IWRM) approaches and decision support systems (DSS) tailored to glacier- and snow-fed subbasins are required.

To fulfil the mandate outlined by SDC a framework is presented for IWRM and DSS for Himalayan subbasins consisting of three integrated platforms. (i) A modelling and decision support platform built around a multi-scale modelling framework for glacier and snow fed subbasins, based on state-of-the art and “easy to use” modelling technology. (ii) A stakeholder engagement platform to consult key stakeholders, identify key IWRM issues and co-design a new IWRM plan for Bhagirathi subbasin. (iii) A capacity building platform with on-site training and e-learning modules for the key project components: glacio-hydrological modelling, IWRM and DSS, to ensure the sustainability of the approach and pave the way for upscaling to other subbasins in the Indian Himalayan Region.

The three platforms are designed designed to be flexible, integrated and interactive. Moreover they align with the three outcomes of the project, thus contributing to: develop and validate an integrated climate resilient water resource management approach (Outcome 1); increase technical and institutional capacity in the fields of hydrological modelling, IWRM and DSS (Outcome 2); support the embedding of the IWRM approach tailored to glacier-fed Indian Himalayan subbasins in policies, and provide generic outputs and guidelines to facilitate upscaling to other subbasins in the Indian Himalayan Region (Outcome 3).

The modelling and decision support platform is designed for operation under the data scarce conditions faced in Himalayan catchments, and yields reliable outputs and projections. The modelling toolset covers the Bhagirathi watershed (Figure below) and consists of 3 hydrological models: (i) a high resolution glacio-hydrological model for the Dokriani glacier catchment (SPHY-Dokriani). Key parameters derived with this model are upscaled to (ii) a distributed glacio-hydrological model that covers the Bhagirathi subbasin (SPHYBhagirathi). Outputs of this model feed into (iii) a water allocation model that overlays the SPHY-Bhagirathi model in the downstream parts of the basin, where water demands are located (WEAPPODIUMSIM Bhagirathi). This modelling toolset is forced with downscaled climate change projections and socio-economic projections to simulate future changes in water supply and demand in the subbasin. On the basis of stakeholder inputs, adaptation options are identified and implemented in the water allocation model for scenario analysis. Thus, socio-economic projections and adaptation options are co-designed with the stakeholders to ensure maximum applicability, and are tailored to the requirements for formulation of the new IWRM plan. The outputs of the modelling toolset feed into the Decision Support System, where they are presented in such a way that they can truly support decision making in this subbasin. Results of the modelling, decision support and stakeholder engagement platforms jointly support the co-design of an IWRM plan for the subbasin. Capacity in glacio-hydrological modelling, IWRM and the use of DSS is built through a combination of on-site training and e-learning; replicable training modules are developed for glacio-hydrological modelling, IWRM and DSS in general and for this particular approach to support implementation and sustainability.

Overview of the Bhagirathi sub-basin. The inset on the right shows the Dokriani glacier watershed

 

This week a training to various experts in Panama has started on the use of the WEAP tool to assess climate risks and future water resources availability and demands. The training will focus on water users in the river basin belonging to the Panama Canal, including the water requirements for the operation of the canal itself. Also the simulation of land use scenarios will be covered in the course.

The training is part of a project that aims at developing a climate-robust land use plan for the river basin. This project is funded by the IADB and FutureWater executes the project in collaboration with IDOM.

The training takes place during two weeks, divided in several half-day sessions. The participants are technical staff working for the Panama Canal Authority and the Ministry of the Environment of Panama.

This glacio-hydrological assessment delivered river flow estimates for three intake locations of hydropower plants in Nakra, Georgia. The assessment included the calibration of a hydrological model, daily river discharge simulation for an extended period of record (1980-2015), and the derived flow duration curves and statistics to evaluate the flow operation of hydropower turbines. The daily flow calculations for the three sites (HPP1, HPP2 and HPP3) can be used in the hydropower calculations, and to assess the overall profitability of the planned investment, considering energy prices, demand, etc.

In the Nakra basin, glacier and snow model parameters were tuned to obtain accurate river flow predictions. Also, the latest technology of remote sensing data on precipitation and temperature (product ERA5) was used to reduce potential errors in flow estimates. Even though these flow estimates are useful for short-medium term evaluations on profitability of the planned investment, climate change pose a challenge for long-term evaluations. Glacier-fed and snow-fed systems, such as the Nakra basin, are driven by a complex combination of temperature and precipitation. Due to future increasing temperature, and changing rainfall patterns, glacier and snow cover dynamics change under climate warming. This can lead to shifts in the flows, like a reduction in lowest flows, and higher discharge peaks when the hydrological system shifts towards a more rainfall-runoff influenced system (Lutz et al. 2016). This can jeopardize the sustainability of the project on the long-term. To provide a better understanding of future river flows, it is recommended to develop a climate change impact assessment.

The Asian Development Bank is supporting the Government of Indonesia in developing its water infrastructure. Impact of climate change and potential adaptation to those changes are evaluated. One component of the project is to assess water availability for all Indonesian catchments currently and under changing climate. FutureWater has supported the program by developing a climate risk screening approach to rapidly assess current water resource availability and the impact of climate change on this.

Various rapid assessment assessments have been tested and the Turc implementation of the Budyko framework has been proven to be effective for basins in Indonesia. ERA5 past climate and NASA-NEX GDDP climate projections have been applied for all basins in Indonesia. Results show that all Indonesian basins are likely to see an increase in runoff over the coming century. However, variability in runoff will increase, with more extreme dry and wet periods. This will have implications for water management planning and climate related hazards such as more prolonged droughts and higher risks of flooding.

Recently, the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program introduced agriculture and water as a new cluster in its strategic framework. Recognizing the complexities of the water sector and the existing landscape of cooperation activities, the strategic framework proposes a complementary approach that uses the strengths of CAREC to further promote dialogue on water issues. A scoping study was commissioned, supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), to develop a framework for the Water Pillar for further consideration by the governing bodies of CAREC. It was agreed that the initial focus of the Water Pillar should be on the five Central Asian states with consideration given to expanding to other CAREC member countries over time.

The objective of the study is to develop the scope of a Water Pillar Framework that includes a roadmap of national development interventions for each of the five Central Asian Republics that responds to the prevailing challenges and opportunities in water resources management.

The framework will be derived from three specific outputs:

  • Output 1: Projection of future availability and demand for water resources for the Central Asia region up to 2050 including implications of climate change.
  • Output 2: Identification of future water resources development and management opportunities in the form of a sector specific framework for water resources infrastructure taking into consideration sustainability issues through a comparative assessment of cost recovery mechanisms and operation and maintenance (O&M) practices.
  • Output 3: Preparation of a framework for policy and institutional strengthening that addresses common themes and issues related to national water resources legislation and the capacity and knowledge development needs of water resources agencies with an emphasis on economic aspects and sustainable financing.

For this work, several consultants were recruited. FutureWater provides key inputs on the climate change and water resources aspects, including desk review, stakeholder consultations across the five regions and across all sectors, and analysis of climate change risks and identification of adaptation options that have a regional dimension and can be taken up through regional or bilateral cooperation.