ETC/ICM Report 3/2012: Vulnerability to Water Scarcity and Drought in Europe

20 Dec 2012

Nils Hettich

Water scarcity occurs where there are insufficient water resources to satisfy long-term average requirements. It refers to long-term water imbalances, combining low water availability with a level of water demand exceeding the supply capacity of the natural system. Although water scarcity often happens in areas with low rainfall, human activities exacerbate the problem, in particular in areas with high population density, tourist inflow, intensive agriculture and water demanding industries. In the near future, it is likely that predicted climate change will aggravate this situation in the most water scarce parts of southern Europe, but could also affect areas which do not currently face such problems. 

The current report aims to provide in-depth information about the problem of Water Scarcity and Drought (WS&D) in Europe. It targets the identification of the drivers, pressures and impacts and the possible quantification of the problem, while it explicitly addresses issues of vulnerability. A wide selection of case studies is provided in order to capture different angles of the vulnerability to WS&D, touching on the industrial and agricultural sectors, the energy sector, the protected areas and ecosystems, the small water bodies and isolated islands etc. Climate change scenarios and future projections of the evolution of both drought and water scarcity phenomena are discussed, while current adaptation measures, focused both on demand and supply management, along with the progress of their implementation and future needs are highlighted. 

The report has been based on a vast collection of data and information from various sources and has furthermore been commented on by Eionet in a country review. It is provided as a background thematic assessment to the EEA Report 11/2012 'Water resources in Europe in the context of vulnerability'

Prepared by: ETC/ICM members: Maggie Kossida, Anastasia Kakava, Anastasia Tekidou, Maria Mimikou (NTUA) and ETC/CCA members: Ana Iglesias (UPM) 

Published by: ETC/ICM, December 2012, 102 pp.