Working Paper

Increased Attention to Water is Key to Adaptation

Published on 3 February 2022

There is growing awareness that water is central to climate change adaptation. Water is a top adaptation priority in 79% of the Nationally Determined Contributions. However, there are several challenges in translating these commitments to substantive benefits on the ground, in particular for poor and marginalized populations.

According to the recent World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund report, more than 2 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water, with huge disparities across and within countries. Climate change will only intensify these challenges and disparities as the availability of water becomes more uncertain and irregular. Still, planned interventions are often narrowly framed around either too little water (scarcity) or too much water (floods) with ‘solutions’ that predominantly focus on top-down, capital-intensive infrastructure development or market-based solutions for optimizing water-use efficiency. These perspectives tend to overlook the multifaceted nature of water, which has biophysical, socio-political and cultural dimensions, and is highly variable across time and space.

Cite this publication

Srivastava, S.; Mehta, L. and Naess, L.O. (2022) Increased Attention to Water is Key to Adaptation. Nat. Clim. Chang. (2022) DOI: 10.1038/s41558-022-01277-w


Shilpi Srivastava

Research Fellow

Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Lars Otto Naess

Resource Politics and Environmental Change Cluster Lead

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