World Bank’s new climate change report intensifies need for water action

The impact of climate change is increasing the urgency for action on water and sanitation across the globe, says WaterAid in response to a new report from the World Bank published today.

The report, Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience, looks at how the negative impacts of climate change already in motion could create devastating conditions especially for those least able to adapt.

Examining the likely impacts for affected populations of present day, it also looks at 2°C and 4°C warming scenarios on critical areas like agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities.

In particular, rainfall regime changes and water availability are highlighted as significant problems under these scenarios. Even without climate change, population growth alone is expected to put pressure on water resources in many regions in the future.

It is projected that water availability is set to decline by 20% for many regions under a 2°C warming and 50% for some regions under 4°C warming. The report stresses that limiting warming to 2°C would reduce the global population exposed to declining water availability to 20%.

WaterAid climate policy expert, Daniel Yeo, said: “This report confirms that exposure to unpredictable rainfall keeps millions in poverty – climate change will pull up the ladder further for the most vulnerable. It is clear that taking action now makes more sense than waiting for the full force of climate change to hit.

“But increasing action on climate change should complement existing work – the World Bank urgently needs to prioritise the provision of basic services to the poor to reduce their vulnerability – like access to safe water and sanitation; and ensure that its work on water focuses on the eradication of poverty and supports communities to better manage their own water resources,” he added.

Leigh Stringer

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