Integrated and Adaptive Water Management as Part of the Climate Change Adaptations Strategies – the Legal Approach

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The world is facing changes at a faster rate than ever seen before. Changes, such as population growth, migration, urbanization and climate change will have significant impacts on the way that water resources need to be managed in the future. Climate change is regarded, though, as the major catalyst for re-orienting water management, because it will impact significantly the water cycle, the water resources and the relevant services worldwide. It has been estimated that even relatively small changes in few degrees centigrade can lead to an increase of water availability by 10–30% in some regions, while in others water availability will be decreased by 10–30%. Globally, the negative impacts of future climate change on freshwater systems are expected to outweigh the benefits, as it is projected that the area of land subject to increasing water stress due to climate change will be more than double that with decreasing water. Furthermore, there are sound reasons to expect an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, as well as long-term shifts on water availability.

Water is a critical core sector, so that changes in water availability and quality are expected to have significant impact on key economic activities, such as agriculture (increased demand for irrigation), energy (reduced hydropower potential and cooling water availability) and tourism (recreational activities). Climate associated changes in the available water resources and their quality are responsible for increased health risks and are also expected to aggravate the impacts of other stresses and pressures, such as changing consumption and productions patterns and land-use changes. It becomes evident that the broader dynamics of the national economies can be influenced and the capacity of societies to pursue sustainable development can be put at risk. The challenges of climate change to water sources have thus to be understood and addressed in an interactive way, if societies are to adapt effectively to climate induced changes. Therefore, just as the gradual change of our energy habits, namely the way that societies produce and use their energy, constitutes the cornerstone of any legal and policy framework aiming at avoiding or even limiting the consequences of climate change (mitigation policies), a series of fundamental changes of the way that societies use and manage their water sources has to become an integral part of any policies aiming at coping with the unavoidable effects of climate change (adaptation policies).

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law
    Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law is the latest product of research by the Global Ecological Integrity Group (, an organisation that has been meeting annually since 1992 to discuss scientific, philosophical, political and legal aspects of ecological integrity. This collection examines various aspects of governance from the standpoint of integrity: from democracy, to forms of Native governance, from globalization and neocolonialism to specific human rights to food, water and climate.
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