Both climate risks and non-climatic drivers need to factored in to curb food and water shortages induced by climate change in vulnerable regions of the world.
A multitude of risks can arise from exposure to climate-related hazards, that have significantly varying impacts across regions, sectors, communities depending upon the vulnerability of the affected human and ecological systems. It can also arise from climate change mitigation or adaptation strategies—a new aspect considered under the risk concept of AR6. Climate change has already induced substantial and increasingly irreversible losses ning across socio-economic-ecological systems. Frequent high-intensity climate and weather extremes have pushed millions of vulnerable people across regions below the poverty line, confronted with acute food and nutritional insecurity, water scarcity, employment vulnerability and loss of basic livelihoods. Besides, it has also led to higher incidences of food-borne, water-borne, or vector-borne diseases as well as humanitarian crises driven by widespread displacement (forced migration). Most of these impacts have been concentrated in the countries of the Global South and the Arctic region. As per the estimates of the report around 3.3 to 3.6 billion people, globally, are highly vulnerable to the risks associated with climate change. The global hotspots of human vulnerability are particularly concentrated in the Global South, the Small Island Developing States and the Arctic—regions with extreme poverty, governance challenges, and limited access to resources, violent conflict, and higher engagement rates with climate-sensitive livelihoods.
Adopting climate-resilient development requires transitioning to states that reduce the impacts of climate risks, strengthen adaptation and mitigation actions, and, most importantly, conserve and restore these coupled systems.
As per AR6, around 4 billion out of 7.8 billion people experience severe water shortages for at least one month per year due to interactions of climatic and non-climatic factors. The rising population pressure in the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East continues to exacerbate the crisis associated with poor water quality, low availability, limited accessibility, and poor water governance. These regions are, therefore, likely to experience even higher rates of depletion of groundwater resources. In the absence of irrigation and varying rainfall patterns, yields of major crops in semi-arid regions, mainly in the Mediterranean, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Australia, are already experiencing negative growth. As for the urban areas, over this decade, almost three-quarters of the urban land across South and Southeast Asian countries is expected to experience high-frequency floods while some parts of Africa may experience severe droughts of similar magnitude. Without adaptation, these water-related impacts of climate change, not only present severe implications for food security but, is likely to contribute to a 0.49 percent in decline in global GDP by 2050, with significant regional variations. Estimates suggest declines to the tune of 14 percent in the Middle East, 11.7 percent in the Sahel, 10.7 percent in Central Asia, and 7 percent in East Asia. Even across countries at different income levels within a region, such water-related impacts are projected to have a differential impact on overall economic growth.
Frequent, high intensity and severe droughts, floods and heat waves, accompanied by substantial sea-level rise continue to increase such risks, especially for regions with lower adaptive capacity.
Greater emphasis will have to be placed on adaptation planning and implementation at a system level that cuts across sectors. In this context, amidst growing public awareness and political cognisance, the WGII AR6 nudges policymakers and communities to adopt a climate-resilient development pathway, while cautioning against its limits and the plausible impacts of maladaptation. To cite an example from the report, in the context of water-related climate change-associated risks, a complementary design of non-structural measures like early warning systems; structural measures like levees, enhanced natural water retention through wetlands and rivers restoration; land use planning and forest management; on-farm water storage and management; and, soil conservation and irrigation can be effective in ensuring economic, institutional, and ecological benefits of water. Promoting sustainable food systems and ensuring nutritional security will require community-based adoption of sustainable farming practices, agro-forestry, and ecological restoration and supportive public policies to make it a reality. Interestingly, AR6 highlights effective and feasible adaptation solutions based on climate justice, entailing distributive and procedural justice complemented by recognition of diverse cultural and social perspectives. Integrated and inclusive system-oriented solutions that are based on equity and justice can reduce risks and enable climate-resilient development. Inclusive processes that strengthen the ability of the nations to contribute to effective adaptation outcomes can enable climate-resilient development.
Almost three-quarters of the urban land across South and Southeast Asian countries is expected to experience high-frequency floods while some parts of Africa may experience severe droughts of similar magnitude.
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Debosmita Sarkar is a Junior Fellow with the Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth Programme, Centre for New Economic Diplomacy at Observer Research Foundation. Her research ...Read More +
Preeti Kapuria was a Fellow at ORF Kolkata with research interests in the area of environment development and agriculture. The approach is to understand the ...Read More +