Knowing your audience

IDRC puts southern-led climate research at the heart of the World Water Congress

By 12 May 2015

Existing pressures on water resources- rising populations, increased waste production, pollution and agricultural demand- have reached crisis point. Currently one in ten of the world’s population do not have access to clean drinking water; 2.5 bn people have no effective sanitation provision; and 70% of the world’s water sources are used in agriculture and food production. With estimates projecting a shortfall of up to 40% of global water needs by 2030, there is an urgent need to address these challenges. However, the stark reality is that these issues will only be exacerbated by changes in climate.

Practitioners and policymakers worldwide are being required to find solutions to problems that have yet to be seen. At the United Nations summit in New York this September, world leaders are set to review and set out the sustainable development goals to take us through to 2030. It is therefore understandable that there is increased media and political attention on framing the impacts of climate change in real terms and coming up with achievable strategies to combat them.

That is why the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is bringing southern-led climate research to the XVth World Water Congress in Edinburgh this month.

IDRC is hosting a number of events across the five day Congress to highlight and interrogate the water-related impacts of climate change and to provide a platform where researchers from developing regions can discuss their findings and share learning.

The voices of developing country scientists are often unheard in international debates, when they are, in fact, best placed to conduct research with the most likely impact. Since 2010, the Climate Change and Water (CCW) program of IDRC has supported applied research to achieve policy relevant solutions to help vulnerable populations adapt to the water-related impacts of climate change. IDRC will bring together researchers from across the globe to discuss the existing water challenges in climate hotspots and to share innovative adaptation strategies that help safeguard communities, local economies and the environment.

Climate Change and Water Challenges: Solutions from the developing world is a day-long session taking place on Wednesday the 27th from 10.30-18.15 (BST). It will provide a space where climate research can be looked at directly in the context of water and, more specifically, where participants can analyse and interrogate the challenges and strategies already being used in some of the world’s most vulnerable regions.

This special session will convene eleven climate change specialists from the most remote areas of the delta of Southeast Asia, the Amazon, China, the small islands, and the driest African and Andean areas of South America. It will consist of three panels offering lively thematic discussions and a final closing TV style debate on the most attractive topics addressed in previous panels. Each panel will last 90 minutes and will be moderated by a journalist, posing sensitive questions to four researchers to help the audience better understand the size of water problems affecting developing countries and the types of solutions proposed by the experts. The session will foster conversations that articulate real concerns and consider realistic solutions.

The day will provide a comprehensive overview of the water challenges already being addressed in recognised hotspots across the world. From the impacts of rising temperatures on the aquaculture industry in Thailand, to addressing gender imbalances in climate knowledge in Vietnam, to the effects of water scarcity on displaced and conflict-affected communities in Angola’s coastal regions, IDRC research partners will look at the economic, cultural and environmental changes in effect and how research and systematic data collection can improve development outcomes.

The impacts of climate change on water are indisputable and the global community will have to work hard to meet demand and reduce risk. This session will provide an invaluable insight into how communities in developing regions are adapting already and will enable participants to incorporate this learning into anticipatory strategies being developed in other areas worldwide.

Get involved

Participants will be able to join in globally and access the discussions via a live webcast and by following @H2OClimate. Using #CCadaptQs, users from across the world will be able to ask questions and join in with the online debate. Throughout the day, key themes emerging online will be looked at within the session and recurring questions and opinions will be investigated by social reporters at the event.