Uncertainty and Risk

© Dan Saavedra
Ondoy aftermath by Dan Saavedra.

Such disasters as floods and droughts take an enormous toll on human life, not to mention causing deep-rooted social, economic and environmental losses.

Natural disasters may be unavoidable, but with better planning and prevention – risk management – their impact can be reduced.

Indicators are needed to detect changes in the natural and social environment, to then both provide a quantitative basis for the design of disaster risk reduction policies and to monitor the effectiveness of these policies.

Implementation plans need to be developed based on an integrated risk management policy. These plans need to be well-resourced and underpinned by a clear legislative framework.

Water is linked to the crises of climate change, energy and food supplies and prices, and troubled financial markets. Unless these links with water are addressed and water stresses around the world are resolved, these adjacent crises may intensify and subsequently worsen local water issues, converging into a global water crisis and leading to various levels of conflict and political insecurity.

Climate change, especially its implications for scarce water resources, is a matter of collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world. At a 2007 UN Security Council debate on the impact of climate change on peace and security UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that climate change has implications for peace and security, as well as serious environmental, social and economic implications, particularly ‘in vulnerable regions that face multiple stresses at the same time – preexisting conflict, poverty and unequal access to resources, weak institutions, food insecurity and incidence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS.’ He outlined ‘alarming, though not alarmist’ scenarios, including limited or threatened access to energy increasing the risk of conflict, scarcity of food and water transforming peaceful competition into violence, and floods and droughts sparking massive human migrations, polarizing societies and weakening the ability of countries to resolve conflicts peacefully. 


Facts and figures extracted from WWDR3, Water in a Changing World (2009). Click on the links to know more!

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