Climate forecasts crucial to water resources and poverty reduction – UN agency

2 September 2008

The chief of the United Nations meteorological agency today called for weather forecasts to play a greater role in planning for economic development and poverty reduction because of the impact climate change has on water resources.

Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told the World Water Congress that the agricultural, energy, tourism and health sectors are among those most affected by the impact of climate change due to drought, deterioration in water quality, increased run-off and an increase in the salinization of ground water as a result of rising sea levels.

“Mainstreaming climate change in decision-making processes will therefore be central to all development and poverty alleviation efforts,” he said at the meeting, held in Montpellier, France.

Mr. Jarraud reminded attendees of the summit that six of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) relate to water resource management, and that severe flooding, drought and cyclones caused by climate change seriously obstruct efforts to meet the MDGs by 2015.

WMO has launched an appeal for funding to set up hydrological information systems that can provide timely, accurate and comprehensive water resources information and support economic development through better land and water resource strategy planning.

The growing demand for a diminishing water supply is among the challenges to resource management. One sixth of the world’s population, mostly in rural areas, on small islands, regions dependant on water from glaciers and snow melt, is adversely affected by the shortage of ground water.

Adding to the challenges for water resource management is the increasing scarcity of drinking-water for people living in many cities due to falling levels of low flow rivers and rising sea levels, as well as the increase mortality rates for waterborne diseases, such as malaria and cholera, in the wettest and driest regions.

The WMO, in a press release, predict economic and social pressures will add to the growing competition for water resources between food production and other agricultural sectors including the production of biofuels in the next few decades.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Greater efforts needed to provide safe water for more than 1 billion people, says Ban

More than one billion people still lack access to safe drinking water, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said today, calling for greater efforts to achieve the water and sanitation targets set by world leaders in 2000.