CPWC publications

The Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate (CPWC) has been most productive in producing key publications. A selection of the most important and influential publications is available online:

Climate changes the Water Rules
Water, Climate Risk, and Adaptation
Water and Climate Risks – A plea for climate-proofing of water development strategies and measures
Reflections of the Dialogue on Water and Climate
Coping with Impacts of Climate Variability and Climate Change in Water Management
Dark Skies – why we need to think about water and climate
Climate Change Adaptation in the Water Sector


In addition, the CPWC team contributed to the UNECE Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change, it was initiator of IPCC’s Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water, and it contributed to the UN-Water Guidance Note on Water-related Adaptation to Climate Change (soon to be released).


acrobat_icon Climate Changes the Water Rules – How water managers can cope with today’s climate variability and tomorrow’s climate change

The report that had the most impact in the water world and opened the eyes of water managers to climate change.


Why should the water sector be concerned with climate change? After all, its priorities are dealing with the present water crisis – about providing safe water and improved sanitation for billions of the world’s poorest people; about supplying enough water to grow the food to feed an ever increasing global population; and about leaving enough water in the natural environment to preserve ecosystems and conserve biodiversity. Indeed, climate change is not the primary concern of water managers. However, it is not doing as well as it should be to manage water in response to today’s climate variability – and the consequent droughts and floods. This report argues that if we learn to manage these phenomena of today better we will develop the resilience that will help us to manage more serious results of climate change tomorrow.

One of the most important impacts of global warming is what climate scientists refer to as an «intensification of the hydrological cycle». Loosely translated, this means shorter periods of more intense rainfall, and longer warmer dry periods. Already, extreme weather records are broken every year. Hydrological disasters have claimed thousands of lives and disrupted national and regional economies. Years of economic development often have been wiped out by a single event. Water managers have started having to deal with record fluctuations in water availability, from critically dropping reservoir levels to overflowing sewerage and drainage systems. Most countries are not ready to cope adequately with today’s climate variability, and the poorest countries are the most vulnerable. The climate community has knowledge to share with water managers. They can offer tools and knowledge and could help water managers more if the water community explains what it needs to know and what kind of tools would be most useful.

This report provides a wealth of information about climate change and variability. It also offers a first ever compendium of specific adaptation strategies for water managers and decision-makers to draw upon and a first overview of international support initiatives on water and climate. Unfortunately, the bulk of international funding related to climate change has gone towards mitigation (i.e. reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and to relief efforts. Greater investment in coping and adaptation capacity is sorely needed. Investing in adaptation capacity today will not only save lives and livelihoods, it will save money spent on relief efforts. The Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate (CPWC) has succeeded in raising awareness of the issue among both water managers and climate-water scientists. Hopefully this will lead to commitments to joint actions to reduce the vulnerability of so many of the world’s poor to the vagaries of climate.

» Browse the report at Google Books




acrobat_icon Water, Climate Risk, and Adaptation
by Marcus Moench and Sarah Stapleton (2007)


The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) confirmed stronger than ever before that climate is changing due to human intervention. The report of the IPCC Working Group II on Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability presented the impacts of climate change on regional and sectoral levels, providing substantiated evidence to policy makers at global, regional, national and local levels that the time has come to get prepared.

This CPWC Working Document on Water, Climate Risks and Adaptation was prepared as a working document for a more inclusive Compendium Document on conceptual advances, tools and adaptation examples. This Working Document has a similar broad scope. It presents and discusses conceptual issues, strategic responses and practical cases, from a risk management perspective.




acrobat_icon Water and Climate Risks – A plea for climate-proofing of water development strategies and measures (manifest, produced for the 4th World Water Forum, March 2006)


This document intends to support and to enhance a debate about current and future climate related risks in the water sector and related economic development. Africa and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are used here to illustrate the potential risks associated with not adequate consideration of the effects of climate variability and change.

Key messages:

  1. Strategies for achieving the MDGs do not account for climate variability and change.
  2. Climate-related risks are not sufficiently considered in water sector development and management plans.
  3. Investment in climate disaster risk reduction is essential.
  4. The trend of increasing costs has to be reversed. This can be done through the Safety Chain concept (prevention, preparation, intervention, risk spreading, recondition, reconstruction).
  5. Coping measures need to combine a suite of technical-structural and non-structural measures.





acrobat_icon Reflections of the Dialogue on Water and Climate (2004)


Produced after the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto, this report analyses the outcomes of the Forum and the Dialogue on Water & Climate and looks at the road ahead. Its purpose is twofold:
1 – to present a status report on Water and Climate at Kyoto;
2 – to analyse the main components of the road ahead, both thematically and institutionally.

Chapter 2 reviews the actions called for and commitments made at the third World Water Forum in the context of climate variability and change. Chapter 3 summarises proposed follow-up activities of the national, basin and regional Dialogues initiated under the Dialogue on Water & Climate. Chapter 4 compares the results from the Forum and the Dialogues, identifying areas where further action is required. Finally Chapter 5 describes the follow-up to the Dialogue on Water & Climate.





acrobat_icon Coping with Impacts of Climate Variability and Climate Change in Water Management (2003)

At a meeting in Delft in the Netherlands in November 2001, about 50 hydrologists, climate scientists and water managers discussed climate change and climate variability in relation to Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) at the initiative of the Dialogue on Water and Climate. A summary of the most important outcomes and recommendations is reflected in this document. These outcomes and recommendations were used as the basis for a series of themes and dialogues which were then commissioned by the International Dialogue on Water and Climate for further study.

The final outcome were policies and actions that created conditions where more effective coping and adaptation mechanisms for dealing with water and climate vulnerability have been developed and applied at the international, national and community levels.




acrobat_icon Dark Skies – why we need to think about water and climate

Brochure for the more general audience explaining the issues at stake.




Climate Change Adaptation in the Water Sector (book, 2009; acrobat_icon flyer)

Today’s climate variability already has a large impact on water supply and protection. Millions of people are affected every year by droughts and floods. Future climate change is likely to make things worse. Many people within the water sector are aware that climate change is affecting water resource management, but they are unsure how to incorporate climate information into their management structures.

Now a book is available for students and practitioners in the water sector on how to adapt to climate change and variability. The main purpose of this book is to offer a compendium of specific adaptation strategies for students, water managers and decision makers. After reading this book, water professionals and advanced students should feel much more comfortable in using climate data in decision support and/or managing water resources. They will know what kind of data or information on climate change and variability are available and how they can be used within the water sector.

The book consists of two parts: the first part describes the general issues and the second part contains specific case studies. These are drawn from a wide range of contrasting countries, including Australia, Thailand, The Netherlands, Germany, Philippines, South Africa, and Yemen.