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Climate Change, Mountain Hydrology and Institutional Constraints: International and Local Dimensions

Annual Call for Projects 2003


A crucial vulnerability faced by the international community in the near future will be access to fresh water in sufficient quantity and of adequate quality to meet increasing and more diverse needs of a growing world population. Mountains have always held a privileged relationship with water as the sources of the world's greatest rivers and as the home of the great reserves of water held in glaciers. Major global forces nevertheless threaten these mountain reservoirs. Climate change is predicted to modify quantities of water available as well as to shift its seasonality. Perhaps even greater challenges will come from the dynamics of human behaviour. Population growth, changing norms and evolving activities are all predicted to increase competition for use of water among agriculture, industry, leisure and domestic activities. Societal rules and norms such as pricing schemes, regulations and property rights determine who gets how much water and when. Their effective design will contribute to efficient and equitable distribution, while poor management can aggravate shortages, lead to more natural disasters, increase social and economic disparities and act as a potential source of deadly international conflict. This project proposes to combine advanced hydrological methods and socio-economic analysis to anticipate future climate developments and especially their consequences for societies. It intends to test the combination of these new methodologies for various mountain regions of the world, as well as for some significant downstream areas. In this way, the project will contribute to the design of flexible tools to predict crucial vulnerabilities and allow for the design of potential mitigating strategies.

The grant provided by the GIAN for this project totals SFr 423,000

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Project Team

Dr. Wolfgang Grabs , Principal Member, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) .

Dr. John Harding , Principal Member, International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) .

Related Links

> Mountain Waters

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Research Output

Climate Change, Mountain Hydrology and Institutional Constraints: Central Chile Case Study
(available in English only)
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