Critical Climate Decade - Implications for Water Conference
22 - 23 June 2022
The 2020s are the critical and decisive decade for climate change where we will need to reduce emissions to limit climate change and prepare for the unavoidable impacts. Impacts of climate change are pervasive for water issues and go beyond the problems of floods and droughts. At the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, there was a renewed attempt at highlighting the role of water in addressing climate change. The need for interdisciplinary solutions across a range of cross-cutting problems is only now appreciated.
The interdisciplinary hybrid conference was held in Norwich on noon 22nd and 23rd June 2022, hosted by the University of East Anglia’s Water Security Research Centre, the Anglian Centre for Water Studies, and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
Thw two-day event shared current understanding of water challenges and solutions, networks across academia, industry, government and the third sector, and developed ideas and collaborations between experts to seek solutions to water challenges.
Together with keynote talks, four themed sessions focused on how climate change will impact water and health, nature-based solutions for water management, integrated assessment of adaptation options, urban-rural interdependencies, and the roles of all sectors in climate mitigation and adaptation.
Integrated Assessment – making decisions taking into account environmental, social, economic and climate factors
As climate change accelerates, the threats in terms of too little (drought) or too much water (floods) are growing and need careful assessment to understand the scale of the problem and find solutions. Moreover, factors other than climate change need to be considered, including increasing population, urban development, and wider economic development, which increases the water demand and increases the number of receptors that can be damaged in floods. Similarly, there are multiple potential human interventions, be they increasing supply or reducing demand in terms of water supply. Analysis of these problems requires a systemic approach (usually termed Integrated Assessment), which can consider these different factors and how they might interact. This theme will examine Integrated Assessment for the water sector and the scientific and practical challenges raised by climate change and possible solutions.
Green Infrastructure and Nature-Based solutions
Nature-Based Solutions are defined by the European Commission (2015) as “actions which are: (1) inspired by, (2) supported by or (3) copied from nature”. These methods utilise ecosystem services to provide an adaptive response to flood risks and combat societal challenges (e.g., climate change or water security). NBS is an ‘umbrella’ term for multiple FRM (Flood Risk Management) concepts, such as Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM), Low Impact Developments (LID), Best Management Practices (BMP), Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), Green Infrastructure (GI), Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI), Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA), and Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR). Their deployment can be small-scale, generally at the urban or local scale (e.g., buildings or streets), and large-scale, usually in rural areas, river basins, or regional scales. This theme aims to learn lessons from existing NBS projects, debate their benefits and limitations, and explore the opportunities when NBS can maximise their benefits.
Intergrating Rural and Urban Water Use
Water management is often considered differently in urban and rural settings. Yet the two are intrinsically interconnected in terms of water resource management, environmental health, pollution, and flooding. Climate change resulting in changes in weather, land use, food production and population redistribution will impact how water is used in these different settings. This theme will explore the interdependencies of water use in urban and rural environments, identifying future challenges and what can be done in the next decade to manage water at a regional scale.
Water, WaSH and health
For many people, climate change in the 2020s is being experienced through changes to global and local water cycles and increased pressure on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) systems. WaSH systems are complex and dynamic, involving interactions between many people, processes, and resources. Therefore, the water sector and WaSH systems are key to climate change adaptation and mitigation. However, policies and research often focus on infrastructural measures to improve water supply and rarely address the complex environmental, socio-economic, and political reasons for insecure WaSH access. While access alone does not ensure resilience to climate change, those without secure WaSH access often live in locations most affected by climate change and will struggle to cope. In this session, we will hear about associations between water and health, efforts to adapt WaSH systems and supporting community resilience to the potential impacts of climate change. Our speakers will form a panel to answer questions from the audience.
Programme Outline and Speakers
Wednesday 22nd June
12:00 Registration and Lunch
Conference Keynote: Peter Simpson, Creating environmental and social prosperity in a climate-critical decade, CEO Anglian Water
13:50 Session 1: Integrating Rural and Urban Water Use
Stuart Allen: Climate change and the water environment; Progress and future challenges Principal Scientist for Climate Change and Resource Efficiency, Environment Agency
Hannah Grey: The Beacon Project: working in partnership with utilities and local government to achieve universal WASH services in Lahan, Nepal Senior Policy Analyst for International Climate Action at WaterAid
Andy Large: Transdisciplinary approaches for water and livelihood resilience in the ‘critical climate decade’: the Living Deltas Hub Director of the Living Deltas Hub, University of Newcastle
15:00 Session Ends
15:30 Session 2: Integrated Assessment – making decisions taking into account environmental, social, economic and climate factors
Ajay Bhave: Interactions of climatic and non-climatic factors and water sector adaptation University of Newcastle
Geoff Darch: Planning for drought and climate change Water Resources Strategy Manager, Anglian Water. Director Water Resources East
Rachel Warren: Integrated Assessment as a tool to answer policy relevant questions Professor of Global Change and Environmental Biology, University of East Anglia
Paulette Posen: Food from Land, Food from Water: Integrated assessment from catchment to coast and beyond Senior Scientist, Spatial Modelling and Assessment, CEFAS
17:15 End of Day 1 with Conference Dinner at 19:30 – Assembly House, Norwich
Thursday 23rd June
09.05 Session 3: Green Infrastructure and Nature Based Solutions
Amina Aboobakar: Mainstreaming nature-based solutions to deliver a more resilient water environment Commercial Director, The Rivers Trust
Rob Rogers: A Jewel in the Crown Director of Operations, The Broads Authority
Richard Cooper: Integrated constructed wetlands: an effective nature-based solution for wastewater treatment? Lecturer in Catchment Science, University of East Anglia
Dave Tickner: Above and beyond: Taking nature-based water solutions from niche to global norm Chief Advisor for Fresh Water, WWF
10:30 Session Ends
11:00 Session 4: Water and Health
Jamie Bartram: What's the use of science in water, health and climate change? Professor of Public Health and Environment, University of Leeds
Paul Hunter: Water and disease in a warmer world Professor in Medicine, University of East Anglia
Kathryn Pharr: Health and WASH: Protecting against climate change impacts Senior Policy Analyst for International Climate Action, Water Aid
Judith Omasete: Understanding the impact of climate change on drowning risk in Bangladesh and Tanzania Water Sanitation and Hygiene Consultant
12:35 Conference close and Lunch