The Asian Development Bank, the Netherlands Water Partnership, and the Dutch Government hosted an intensive week-long programme that brought together 48 delegates from 12 project teams across 11 Asian participating countries and water experts from the Netherlands. The Asian and Dutch parties expanded their knowledge and shared experiences regarding Nature-based Solutions for cities, coasts, and river basins through lectures, interactive sessions, and field visits. The participants came from Armenia, Bangladesh, the Cook Islands, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. 

On the day preceding the week, FutureWater participated in the Asian Development Bank’s Business Opportunity Seminar on Water, organized by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) in The Hague. Sonu Khanal and Arthur Lutz met with ADB representatives and shared FutureWater’s experiences in working with the Asian Development Bank in the plenary panel discussion. 

During the Asia-Netherlands Water Learning Week, Evelyn Aparicio Medrano and Arthur Lutz joined the programme to learn more about the Asian project teams, and the challenges they face in implementing Nature-based Solutions in their projects. Besides sharing our experience with Nature-based Solutions with the participants, Evelyn Aparicio Medrano presented work done by FutureWater in the Masterclass on financial sustainability of projects with Nature-based Solutions. She presented a How-to Guide to develop watershed investment programs which FutureWater developed jointly with The Nature Conservancy. 

We thank the Netherlands Water Partnership, the Asian Development Bank and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency for organising these fruitful events!

Presentation by Evelyn Aparcio
Social Event

 

Analysis of the historical climate data and future model projections indicates significant shifts in rainfall patterns. These shifts could influence water availability within the upstream river basins, which are vital for irrigation practices and ecological balance. Furthermore, the study explores variations in temperature -including average, minimum, and maximum values- and evaluates their potential consequences on water demand due to increased evaporation rates and altered crop water needs.

Additionally, this scoping research touches upon the effects of these climatic factors on olive crop phenology and productivity. The study also considers the likelihood of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and droughts, and their potential to disrupt traditional farming cycles and water resource management strategies.

The outcomes of this analysis are aimed at providing an olive producing firm with insights and strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on olive production in these targeted regions of Andalucia. By foreseeing potential challenges and preparing for them, a decision can be made on whether to invest or not in order to maintain a leading olive producer on the global stage.

As part of the FAO’s Asia-Pacific Water Scarcity Programme (WSP), FutureWater conducts a scoping study to identify opportunities to improve sustainable water resources management in the country. Following this scoping assessment, FutureWater develops bankable investment concept notes for activities to strengthen national capacities to implement policy actions that prepare Mongolia for a water scarce future. As part of the project, a high level stakeholder consultation forum with key government stakeholders and development partners is organized to validate the findings of the assessment and prioritize the investment concepts.

Mongolia has a strong commitment to IWRM, as defined in the 2012 Water Law, and good progress has been made. This includes the establishment of river basin organizations (RBOs) to manage the 29 river basins in the country. Currently, there are 21 operational RBOs. However, these bodies lack the experience needed for implementation of their tasks. Training and professional development of employees of the water basin authorities are of the utmost importance, to enable them to implement the assigned tasks and be better positioned for advancing implementation of Target 6.5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

Over the last decades, efficient water resources management has been an important element of EU’s water policies, a topic that is addressed with renewed attention in the revised 2021 EU Adaptation Strategy, which lists the need for a knowledge-based approach towards water-saving technologies and instruments such as efficient water resources allocation. The IPCC special report on oceans and the cryosphere in a changing climate (2019) highlights the combination of water governance and climate risks as potential reasons for tension over scarce water resources within and across borders, notably competing demands between hydropower and irrigation, in transboundary glacier- and snow-fed river basins in Central Asia.

WE-ACT’s innovative approach consists of two complementary innovation actions: the first is the development of a data chain for a reliable water information system, which in turn enables the second, namely design and roll-out of a decision support system for water allocation. The data chain for the reliable water information system consists of real-time in-situ hydrometeorological and glaciological monitoring technology, modelling of the water system (including water supply and demand modelling and water footprint assessments) and glacier mass balance, data warehouse technology and machine learning. The roll-out of the DSS for climate-risk informed water allocation consists of stakeholder and institutional analyses, water valuation methods, the setup of the water information system to allow for a user-friendly interface, development of water allocation use cases, and feedback on water use through national policy dialogues.

The work of FutureWater within the WE-ACT study will focus on estimating the water demand and water footprints of the different users and activities within the Syr Darya river basin. Therefore, the effects of water allocation on water footprints, unmet water demand and environmental flow violations will be evaluated using a set of hydrological models such as SPHY and Water Allocation models (WEAP). This will be done for both the status quo and future scenarios.

For more information you can visit the WE-ACT project website.

The goal of the Asian Development Bank project ‘Renewable Energy for Climate Resilience’ in Bhutan is to diversify Bhutan’s energy portfolio. Bhutan’s power sector almost exclusively relies on hydropower generation. Hydropower, however, is vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters caused by climate change. The first deployment of non-hydro renewables at utility scale in Bhutan will be the first step to diversify the power generation portfolio, increase the resilience against severe weather events such as droughts, and complement the hydropower generation profile during the dry season. Other renewable energy resources such as solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind can complement hydropower in forming a more diversified electricity generation portfolio, which is, in healthy mix, resilient to changes in seasonal weather patterns and weather extremes that can adversely affect power supply.

Within this project ADB develops two solar and one wind plant. FutureWater has undertaken a Climate Risk and Adaptation assessment (CRA) for these power plants, with a two-fold objective:

  1. Validate the underlying rationale for diversification of Bhutan’s energy generation portfolio. The rationale is that more unreliable flows under climate change adversely affect the hydropower generation, in particular in the low flow season outside the monsoon season. This are the seasons with high potential for solar and wind energy, under the current climate conditions. The diversification of Bhutan’s energy generation portfolio is considered as type 2 adaptation, related to system change and resilience building in the climate change context.
  2. Assess the vulnerability of the project components to future climate change and recommend adaptation options for climate-proofing of the design. This is considered as type 1 adaptation, related to climate proofing.

The rationale for diversification is related to the expectation that climate change impacts on the cryosphere and hydrology in Bhutan will lead to less reliable flows, in particular outside the monsoon season. This will make hydropower a less reliable source of energy, which may not be sufficient during the dry season. During these periods outside the monsoon season, the climate in Bhutan is characterized by clear skies and daily patterns of wind. This intuitively makes solar and wind suitable energy sources to complement hydropower.

The CRA concludes that this rationale holds when validated with future scenarios of climate change and hydrological changes. These project more erratic flows, meaning on one hand more extremes on the high end (floods), in itself posing risks for hydropower infrastructure, but also through increasing sediment loads and risks of exposure to landslides and glacier lake outburst floods. On the other hand, a small increase in frequency and length of hydrological droughts is projected. Furthermore, projections of wind speed and incoming solar radiation indicate more or less stable conditions compared to the present day climate, further substantiating the rationale for portfolio diversification.

For adaptation and climate proofing the main recommendation is to verify that the proposed drainage systems at the sites are sized for extreme flows that are 20-30% larger in magnitude than current extremes. This is valid across return periods. The second high priority recommendation is to design foundations of solar, wind, and transmission infrastructure to withstand increased erosion rates and substantially increased risk of landslides in landslide prone areas. A third recommendation is to take into account lower production for solar panels at increased frequency of heat stress, as well as in the sizing of capacity of transmission infrastructure, which may have reduced capacity during periods of high heat stress.

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.

 

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 North–South Corridor serves as the main transport artery for the region, which spans quite diverse and spectacular terrains from the historic capital of Georgia, Mtskheta, up north to Stepantsminda in the Great Caucasus mountain range. The road experiences heavy traffic and is unsafe due to a design that is inadequate for the challenging geographical and climatic conditions, particularly in winter. The area is prone to avalanche, landslide, and snow load risks, which cause frequent and extended closures of the road. The two-lane highway provides a low standard alignment and is characterized by substandard open tunnels and avalanche galleries, in which modern trucks cannot pass simultaneously. An upgrade of the existing road alignment with improved geometry and avalanche galleries was considered but deemed inappropriate as it would not address the core climate-related risks.

Recognizing these challenges, the government has therefore requested ADB’s and EBRD’s assistance to improve the North–South Corridor. The climate-resilient project road will allow more traffic to travel on it safely and will remain fully operational all year. A detailed Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (CRVA) report has been developed for the project road. The projected increase in extreme precipitation events is considered as the most important climate risk for the project road. This not only leads to higher extreme discharges, but can also lead to more frequent landslides, mudflows, and avalanches. The climate model analysis yields following conclusions for the project area:

  • Temperature increases by about 2 °C (RCP4.5) to 2.7 °C (RCP8.5) are to be expected
  • Minimum and maximum temperature are likely to change inconsistently, with maximum air temperatures increasing more than minimum air temperatures. This implies a larger diurnal temperature range for the future
  • Extremes related to temperatures (e.g. warm spells, extremely warm days) are likely to increase in frequency and intensity
  • Precipitation totals are likely to stay reasonable constant
  • Precipitation extremes are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. Maximum 1-day precipitation volumes with return periods of 25, 50 and 100 years are expected to increase by about 10% to 20%.

Stress tests were carried out by the project road design consultant team using +10% and +20% increased precipitation input for return periods used in the engineering design. These tests revealed that bridges have sufficient capacity in the current design to cope with higher discharge levels in the future, although it would be prudent to check the bridge substructure designs for higher flow velocities and the possibility of increased debris content in the flow. The tests indicated that a small proportion of the transversal and longitudinal drainage systems might have insufficient capacity to cope with the increased precipitation extremes. These should be identified, and their dimensions increased appropriately.

ADB is providing a technical assistance grant to the government of Tajikistan (the government) for the preparation of the CAREC corridors 2, 3, and 5 (Obigarm–Nurobod) Road Project. The project road, about 72 km long, will replace a section of the existing M41 highway that will be inundated due to the construction of the Rogun Hydropower (HPP) project. The project road passes through mountainous terrain and includes 3 tunnels of total length about 6 km, several substantial bridges, and a high level 700 m long bridge over the future hydropower reservoir. The bypass road must be completed and opened to traffic by latest November 2023, the date by which the rising water in the HPP reservoir will have inundated several critical sections of the M41 highway. No other part of Tajikistan’s national highway network can provide for this traffic, and the only alternative route would represent a deviation of about 500 km.

The executing agency for implementing the project is the Ministry of Transport (MOT), represented by its Project Implementation Unit for Roads Rehabilitation (PIURR). The detailed design of the road has been completed by a national design consultant appointed by Tajikitan’s Ministry of Transport (MOT). This climate risk and vulnerability assessment (CRVA) has examined the proposed components for CAREC corridors 2, 3, and 5. A detailed climate risk assessment was conducted for the project road for the period to 2050 to ensure the design specifications are adequate for future climatic conditions. The climate model analysis yields following conclusions:

  • Temperature increases by about 2.4 °C (RCP4.5) to 3.1 °C (RCP8.5) are to be expected.
  • Minimum and maximum temperature are likely to change inconsistently, with maximum air temperatures increasing more than minimum air temperatures.
  • Extremes related to temperatures (e.g. warm spells, extremely warm days) are likely to increase in frequency and intensity.
  • Precipitation totals are likely to increase slightly but a large spread in precipitation projections has to be noted.
  • Precipitation extremes are likely to increase in frequency and intensity. For example, maximum 1-day precipitation volumes with return periods of 50 and 100 years are expected to increase by about 20% according to the 75th percentile values in the distribution of change projections of the entire climate model ensemble.

The increase in extreme precipitation events is considered as the most important climate risk for the project road. This not only leads to higher extreme discharge events but can also lead to more frequent and more powerful mudflows, landslides, and/or avalanches. The increase in temperature can pose additional loadings from thermal expansion to bridge joints and bearings as well as the road pavement asphalt, but it is unlikely that these would be significant.

The project design consultant team recalculated the expected flow characteristics for bridge sections for 1:100 years discharge events using a foreseen 20% increase in daily maximum precipitation. The recalculations reveal that bridges have sufficient capacity in the current design to cope with higher discharge levels in the future, although it would be prudent to check the bridge substructure designs to withstand higher flow velocities and increased debris content in the flow. Heavier scour protection works may be required if structural deterioration of bridge components is observed. The project design consultant team similarly recalculated the expected flow characteristics for culvert and roadside drains, but now for 1:50 years discharge events considering a 20% precipitation increase. The recalculations reveal that the drainage capacity of the culverts is well in excess of foreseen increases in flow, whether it be precipitation, mudflow, or avalanche.