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Q&A with Sarah Diringer: A Multi-benefits Approach to Water Management

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Earlier this week, Pacific Institute Communications Manager Rebecca Olson sat down with Pacific Institute Senior Researcher Dr. Sarah Diringer to talk about the challenges and promises of a multiple benefits approach to water management.

Rebecca Olson: Tell me about the work you are doing at the Pacific Institute on developing a comprehensive framework to evaluate multiple benefits of water investment strategies.

Sarah Diringer: There is broad recognition that we need to invest in our man-made water systems and our natural environment in order to adapt to climate change, address population growth, and update our aging infrastructure. There are a lot of options for investing in water management, ranging from water restoration to efficiency improvements, water reuse, and stormwater capture. In addition to helping our water systems, many of these strategies can also provide important “co-benefits” or additional benefits, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing habitat, or enhancing community livability.

Public and private entities don’t always consider each of these benefits when selecting a management strategy. Over the past year, we have been working with a large group of stakeholders to develop a framework for examining multiple benefits that can help water managers and decision makers to better account for the benefits and the costs of water management decisions.

Rebecca Olson: What are the challenges to implementing a multi-benefits approach to water management? How does the framework you are developing address these challenges? (more…)

Water is a Source of Growing Tension and Violence in the Middle East

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By Peter Gleick and Charles Iceland

August 27, 2018

In the hot, dry Middle East, where populations are growing rapidly and all major rivers cross political borders, water has become a focal point for escalating violence. From the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Turkey that feed the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to the desert wadis on the southern tip of Yemen, the history of water conflicts provides a cautionary tale: When water and politics mix, and when cooperation gives way to conflict, freshwater becomes an issue of human and national security and a tool of violence.

The long history of conflict in the region is intertwined with the history of water. The earliest recorded water fight is a dispute around 2400 BC over the use of irrigation canals in the ancient Mesopotamian cities of Umma and Lagash between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. When the walls and temples of Babylon were razed around 690 BC, the waters of the Euphrates were used to wash away the ruins.
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Coping with the Impacts of Climate Change on Coffee Cultivation in Brazil

By Giuliana Chaves Moreira
May 4, 2018

Climate change poses severe threats and negative impacts to agricultural production in Brazil and around the world. However, emerging water stewardship practices can be a critical force in mitigating and adapting to these impacts.

The main effects of climate change on agriculture are related to changes in the availability of water to crops and the occurrence of more severe and more frequent extreme weather phenomena, such as floods, heat waves, frost, hurricanes, droughts, and more.

Data from the Brazilian Panel on Climate Change indicate that Brazil could lose about 11 million hectares of agricultural land due to climate change by 2030.

Coffee cultivation is of particular concern as Brazil is the world’s biggest coffee producer – yielding 2,595,000 metric tons of coffee beans in 2016 alone – and has been for over 150 years. Coffee cultivation is sensitive to both high and low temperatures, and as such faces significant climate risks. According to the estimates of the IPCC report released in 2014, the combination of the increase in average temperature and the scarcity of water resources would considerably reduce coffee cultivation.
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