Hydropower is essential to fulfill future energy demands. Water scarcity is likely to increase due to climate change and aase in water demand. Therefore, Climate Risk Assessments are required before large investments in new and large hydropower stations (>100 MW) are made. Small hydropower (1 – 20 MW) does not require these Climate Risk Assessments yet, but this will eventually happen in the future. Investors are highly interested in the profitability of these small hydropower stations, especially because of the uncertainty caused by future climate change. Current methods for Climate Risk Assessments (CRA) are however still too costly for these small-hydro projects because they are very labor intensive and require specific knowledge.

FutureWater has carried out a feasibility study to assess the possibilities for the development of a «Small-Hydro Climate Risk Assessment tool» (SH-CRA) that can make CRA’s for small-hydro projects cost effective. The starting point of this project to develop the SH-CRA is the recent change in the approach to CRA’s: until a few years ago, these were based purely on climate models, also known as the “Top-down” approach. Nowadays however, investors require a more pragmatic approach in which climate risks are balanced against other risks and presented in a clear way. This new “Bottom-up” approach makes it possible for small-hydro projects to include climate risks in the investment decision.

This feasibility project has therefore investigated whether the “bottom-up” climate risk analysis approach can make it possible to develop such a SH-CRA solution, based on a combination of literature research, an inventory of available technology and potential partners, and competition analysis.

Scientists from around the world have assessed the planet’s 78 mountain glacier–based water systems and, for the first time, ranked them in order of their importance to adjacent lowland communities, as well as their vulnerability to future environmental and socioeconomic changes. These systems, known as mountain water towers, store and transport water via glaciers, snow packs, lakes and streams, thereby supplying invaluable water resources to 1.9 billion people globally—roughly a quarter of the world’s population.

The research, published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, provides evidence that global water towers are at risk, in many cases critically, due to the threats of climate change, growing populations, mismanagement of water resources, and other geopolitical factors. Further, the authors conclude that it is essential to develop international, mountain-specific conservation and climate change adaptation policies and strategies to safeguard both ecosystems and people downstream.

Globally, the most relied-upon mountain system is the Indus water tower in Asia, according to their research. The Indus water tower—made up of vast areas of the Himalayan mountain range and covering portions of Afghanistan, China, India and Pakistan—is also one of the most vulnerable. High-ranking water tower systems on other continents are the southern Andes, the Rocky Mountains and the European Alps.

To determine the importance of these 78 water towers, researchers analyzed the various factors that determine how reliant downstream communities are upon the supplies of water from these systems. They also assessed each water tower to determine the vulnerability of the water resources, as well as the people and ecosystems that depend on them, based on predictions of future climate and socioeconomic changes.

Of the 78 global water towers identified, the following are the five most relied-upon systems by continent:

  • Asia: Indus, Tarim, Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Ganges-Brahmaputra
  • Europe: Rhône, Po, Rhine, Black Sea North Coast, Caspian Sea Coast
  • North America: Fraser, Columbia and Northwest United States, Pacific and Arctic Coast, Saskatchewan-Nelson, North America-Colorado
  • South America: South Chile, South Argentina, Negro, La Puna region, North Chile

The study, which was authored by 32 scientists from around the world, was led by Prof. Walter Immerzeel (Utrecht University) and Dr. Arthur Lutz (Utrecht University and FutureWater), longtime researchers of water and climate change in high mountain Asia.


In 2017, AFD approved to finance the Water Resources Management and Agro-ecological Transition for Cambodia “WAT4CAM” Program Phase 1. This program will contribute to reduce poverty, develop the economy and reduce the vulnerability of rural populations to climate change by implementing a hydro-agricultural infrastructures rehabilitation program through an integrated approach, targeting the whole chain of water resources management, water services and agricultural production.

The strategy is to achieve intensification of cropping, modernization and climate smart practices to provide farmers with secure access to water. This is a challenging objective and a good understanding of the hydraulics of water flows in dry and wet season is needed. A consortium led by FutureWater was hired to perform WAT4CAM subcomponent 3.1, which concentrates on providing this understanding of both flood and dry season flows, demands and balance in the Preks intended for rehabilitation.

The initial stages of the project include the identification of current data, models and previous work, as well as a field survey with stakeholders. This information will be used to create an accurate and reliable modelling ensemble that makes maximum use of existing capacity in Cambodia. In addition, the consortium will use satellite-derived data products to (i) provide input to the simulation models, and (ii) calibrate and validate model results. Various sources of satellite imagery will be explored to map floods and irrigation practices, to implement an integrated “space hydrology” approach.

The modelling and knowledge generation from this study must support the other WAT4CAM components for the successful implementation of the Prek irrigation system improvements. The modelling itself is thus not the ultimate purpose, but rather the understanding and knowledge imparted to MoWRAM and the other components of the WAT4CAM program.

FutureWater’s role in the project is the overall project coordination and administration, as well as the implementation of satellite remote sensing and climate change analyses in support of the modelling components.

Para atender a los retos de desarrollo territorial y de adaptación al cambio climático a los que se enfrenta la Cuenca Hidrográfica del Canal de Panamá (CHCP), la Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (ACP) ha puesto en marcha la generación de un instrumento rector de carácter regional -PIOTA- en el que se establecerá la hoja de ruta a seguir (Ruta Verde 2050) para garantizar la seguridad hídrica de la población, el desarrollo socioeconómico y la gestión integral y sostenible de la región, y el mantenimiento de las operaciones del Canal de Panamá, y de los servicios ecosistémicos de la cuenca. Los desafíos planteados cobran particular relevancia bajo escenarios de gran incertidumbre debido al cambio climático y las crecientes presiones sobre los recursos hídricos derivadas del crecimiento poblacional y la urbanización, y el deterioro ambiental observado en las zonas rurales y periurbanas del área metropolitana del país.

La cooperación técnica que se ofrece a través de este proyecto permitirá a la ACP y al BID diseñar un esquema de implementación de intervenciones (a nivel estratégico y de ejecución de proyectos) para fomentar el desarrollo sostenible de la CHCP.

El proyecto se ejecuta en 4 fases (Figura 1):

  1. Diagnóstico, donde se realizan la caracterización sectorial e integrada del modelo territorial actual
  2. Prospectiva, donde se implementará una metodología de decisión robusta para la cuantificación de la vulnerabilidad del sistema actual, y futura frente a la incertidumbre impuesta por el cambio climático, diferentes escenarios de desarrollo socio-económico, y opciones de adaptación.
  3. Estrategia, para la descripción detallada de la “Ruta Verde 2050” incluyendo las líneas de actuación y de ordenación ambiental, y las estrategia de mitigación y adaptación.
  4. Plan (PIOTA), que abordará los aspectos prácticos de relacionados con zonificación territorial, los estudios de prefactibilidad, y un programa de evaluación y monitoreo para garantizar la implementación efectiva del Plan de Ordenación
Figura 1. Fases del Proyecto “PIOTA para la Cuenca Hidrográfica del Canal de Panamá”.

FutureWater contribuye al proyecto asumiendo la responsabilidad de la Fase 2, para lo cual se aprovechará de la experiencia adquirida en los últimos años y otros lugares del mundo en relación a la aplicación de metodologías de decisión robusta, y la cuantificación de la vulnerabilidad de los sistemas hídricos frente a escenarios de cambio climático y de desarrollo territorial. La aplicación de la metodología incluirá la construcción de un modelo de oferta-demanda usando la herramienta WEAP y la capacitación técnica de la ACP, la cuantificación de la incertidumbre climática y la generación de escenarios de clima regionalizados para el área de estudio, y la aplicación de marco analítico para cuantificar el desempeño y la vulnerabilidad la cuenca frente a los escenarios de cambio analizados y las posibles opciones y estrategias de adaptación concertadas con los agentes de interés.

Visite este sitio web para obtener más información sobre el proyecto: https://piota-panama-cyt.hub.arcgis.com/

The Paris Agreement requests each country to outline and communicate their post-2020 climate actions, known as their NDCs. These embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. As ratifying parties, Armenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan must therefore outline how they intend to implement their NDCs and provide information on what the focus of this spending will be. To support this effort, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is implementing a knowledge and support technical assistance cluster which will help enhance capacities of developing member countries (DMCs) in meeting their climate objectives by assisting in refining and translating nationally determined contributions (NDCs) into climate investment plans.

In this work package, ADB aims to support Georgia, Armenia, and Uzbekistan with the implementation of their NDCs through developing urban climate assessments (UCAs) and mainstreaming low carbon and climate resilience measures into urban planning processes. FutureWater contributed to this effort by supporting knowledge creation in relation to climate change and adaptation which will help each country to make more informed climate investment decisions.This was accomplished by conducting analysis of downscaled climate model ensembles for different climate change scenarios and synthesising data related to urban climate risk.

Climate change trend assessments were conducted using the NASA-NEX downscaled climate model ensemble combined with ERA-5 climate reanalysis products. To determine climate risk at the urban level, a number of openly available datasets were analysed and compiled using a spatial aggregation approach for 16 cities in the area. Results were presented as user-friendly climate risk profiles at the national and urban scales, allowing for insights into climate trends and risks over the coming century. These will be presented to non-expert decision makers to help support Armenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan develop targeted and informed NDCs.

The overall aim of the Guidance is to supporting adaptation decision making for climate-resilient investments with the main objective to scale-up ADB’s investments in climate change adaptation in Asia and the Pacific. The Good Practice Guidance on climate-resilient infrastructure design and associated training modules will help project teams to incorporate climate projections information into project design. The guideline is based both on insights gained by experts in supporting climate-resilient project development, and on state-of-the-art reviews of emerging engineering design and decision-making protocols that reflect the impacts of climate change. Sector guidance will be provided for agriculture and food security, energy, transport, urban development, and water. FutureWater takes the lead in the water sector guidance.

Training modules targeting member countries officials and ADB operational staff involved in the design of resilient infrastructure projects will be developed to facilitate the wider dissemination of, and capacity building around, the good practice guidance and enhanced availability of climate projections data. Training modules will be developed for both in person delivery at training sessions and distance learning to enable on-demand technical capacity building. The format of the in-person training sessions will be determined in consultation with the operational teams and could take a “training of trainers” approach.

The Asian Development Bank supports Tajikistan in achieving increased climate resilience and food security through investments in modernization of Irrigation and Drainage (I&D) projects. A Technical Assistance is preparing modernization projects for two I&D systems in the Lower Vaksh river basin in Tajikistan. In line with this, the TA will prepare a holistic feasibility study and project design for the system (38,000 ha), as well as advanced designs and bidding documents for selected works.

FutureWater is part of the team of international experts, working together with the local consultant on the climate risk and adaptation assessment that accompanies the feasibility projects. For this purpose, past climate trends will be analyzed, climate model projections processed, and a climate impact model will be used to assess how the project performs under a wide range of future conditions, to assess the robustness of the proposed I&D investments, and identify possible climate adaptation measures.

The project should increase agricultural water use productivity in the selected agricultural districts in Uzbekistan through a threefold approach: (i) climate resilient and modernized I&D infrastructure to improve measurement, control and conveyance within existing systems; (ii) enhanced and reliable onfarm water management including capacity building of water consumers’ associations (WCAs), physical improvements for land and water management at the farm level and application of high level technologies for increased water productivity; and (iii) policy and institutional strengthening for sustainable water resources management. This will include strategic support to the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) and its provincial, basin and district agencies.

The project supports the Strategy of Actions on Further Development of Uzbekistan (2017), which includes: (i) introduction of water saving technologies and measures to mitigate the negative impact of climate change and drying of the Aral Sea; (ii) further improvement of irrigated lands and reclamation and irrigation facilities; and (iii) modernization of agriculture by educating areas of cotton and cereal crops to expand horticulture production.

FutureWater focuses on the climate risk and adaptation assessment that accompanies the feasibility projects, and will analyze climate trends, climate model projections, climate impacts on the projects and assess adaptation options.

Watch the video below to learn more about the management of Climate Adaptive Water Resources in the Aral Sea Basin in Uzbekistan (source: ADB)

Cambodia is currently improving in economic standing, however the benefits of this are largely contained to urban areas. As a major contributor to GDP, ensuring the sustainability of Cambodia’s agricultural sector is highly important, especially when coupled with the increasing awareness of the dangers of climate change. Access to water for agriculture, fisheries and domestic supply is an issue, with many rural communities competing for resources. Coupled with the effects of flood and drought activity in recent years, the need for adequate and reliable water resource management in rural, agricultural areas is prominent. This project focuses on the North- Western Cambodian provinces of Oddar Meanchey (OMC) and Banteay Meanchey (BMC) and the neighbouring North-Eastern Thai provinces of Surin and Sisaket.

In order to protect rural livelihoods and maintain agricultural production, communities must be supplied with permanent and regulated water year-round. Analysis of recent flood and drought histories and their effects in the provinces are first necessary to determine the most vulnerable areas both in terms of agriculture and households. In addition, water resource assessments of supplies and demand will identify the most crucial areas to ensure supplies are increased and sustained both for crops and domestic use. Socio-economic studies will also ensure ‘cross- cutting’ issues are considered in WR planning, such as: gender, economic vulnerability and cultural factors related to WRM. Furthermore, meetings with stakeholders at multiple levels can address issues in water infrastructure, alongside assessment of the capacities of those managing monitoring systems for example. From this, future recommendations for improvements in infrastructure can be made with an awareness of the necessary knowledge capacities to ensure proper maintenance and sustainability.

Initially, an analysis of the current water resource situation in the study area will be conducted through collection of available data on water resources, flood and drought histories and socioeconomic issues in the area. Following this, areas for more detailed analysis will be established and strategies to improve WRM supporting agricultural livelihoods can be developed. FutureWater is involved in the implementation of the WEAP model, for evaluation of various water resources management strategies in the catchments under baseline and projected future conditions.

Groundwater is one of the most important freshwater resources for mankind and for ecosystems. Assessing groundwater resources and developing sustainable water management plans based on this resource is a major field of activity for science, water authorities and consultancies worldwide. Due to its fundamental role in the Earth’s water and energy cycles, groundwater has been declared as an Essential Climate Variable (ECV) by GCOS, the Global Climate Observing System. The Copernicus Services, however, do not yet deliver data on this fundamental resource, nor is there any other data source worldwide that operationally provides information on changing groundwater resources in a consistent way, observation-based, and with global coverage. This gap will be closed by G3P, the Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product.

The G3P consortium combines key expertise from science and industry across Europe that optimally allows to (1) capitalize from the unique capability of GRACE and GRACE-FO satellite gravimetry as the only remote sensing technology to monitor subsurface mass variations and thus groundwater storage change for large areas, (2) incorporate and advance a wealth of products on storage compartments of the water cycle that are part of the Copernicus portfolio, and (3) disseminate unprecedented information on changing groundwater storage to the global and European user community, including European-scale use cases of political relevance as a demonstrator for industry potential in the water sector. In combination, the G3P development is a novel and cross-cutting extension of the Copernicus portfolio towards essential information on the changing state of water resources at the European and global scale. G3P is timely given the recent launch of GRACE-FO that opens up the chance for gravity-based time series with sufficient length to monitor climate-induced and human-induced processes over more than 20 years, and to boost European space technology on board these satellites.

In this project, FutureWater is in charge of a case which aims to prototype and calibrate a Groundwater Drought Index based on the G3P product, and to integrate it into InfoSequia, the FutureWater’s in-house Drought Early Warning System. The new InfoSequia component will be tested for inherent reliability and flexibility at the basin level in a total area of about 145 000 km2 in Southern Spain which largely relies on groundwater resources. This pilot region comprises three large basins (Segura, Guadalquivir and Guadiana) with many aquifers and groundwater bodies where very severe dynamics of overexploitation and mining have been identified and declared. Unsustainable groundwater development threats the water security in the region, but also the ecological status and preservation of unique and highly protected ecosystems in Europe (e.g., Doñana National Park, Daimiel National Park, Mar Menor coastal lagoon).

To visit the official G3P website, please click on this link: https://www.g3p.eu