International Conference on DROUGHT: Research and Science‐Policy Interfacing

March, 10th - 13th, 2015 Valencia, Spain

Rationale of the Conference

Among natural hazards, droughts are singular in many ways (e.g.: slow onset, difficult to recognize, non structural impacts). Moreover, droughts occur in arid and semiarid areas of the world, but also in humid areas, and can develop over short periods (weeks or months) or longer periods (seasons, years or even decades). They are complex large-scale phenomena involving numerous interacting climate processes and various land-atmosphere feedbacks. In addition, hydrological processes in river basins lead to a complicated propagation of the climate signal into the water system. Although progress is made, the phenomena are still not well understood, which makes it difficult to adequately characterize, monitor, forecast and manage drought.

Usually, droughts do not directly cause fatalities, but they have large socio-economic and environmental impacts affecting many sectors, and, depending on the regions, be triggering water and food related diseases and casualties. Large portions of USA, México, Brazil, Russia, China, India, Central Asia, South Africa, Great Horn of Africa, or Australia, are affected by drought. So globally, they affect more regions and more people than other natural hazards.

In Europe, these multi-facetted impacts happen both in water-stressed areas of Southern EU Member States, but also in countries where water availability has never before been a major concern. Over the last 25 years, droughts have occurred that have covered more than 800,000 km2 of EU territory (37%) and that had an effect on more than 100 million people (20%). The total cost of droughts over the past 30 years amounts to more than 100 billion Euros.

As in other regions of the world, climate change projections for some areas of Europe indicate that droughts are likely to become more frequent and more severe due to the increased likelihood of warmer Northern winters and hotter Mediterranean summers, together with decreases in precipitation and increases in evaporation and transpiration. Hence, there is an urgent need to improve drought preparedness through measures that reduce vulnerability to drought and the risks they pose, in particular considering the uncertain future.

The DROUGHT conference

The International Conference on Drought Research and Science-Policy Interfacing is the final event of the EC-funded project DROUGHT-R&SPI. The event aims to discuss drought related research and the advances on response policies in order to foster the development of Drought Policies and Plans to reduce risk and vulnerability, and to enhance preparedness and resiliency. Specific objectives of the conference are to:

  • Introduce the results of the DROUGHT-R&SPI project
  • Give the floor to contributions that deal with the three drought aspects: identification, assessment and policies
  • Integrate those aspects focusing on (i) the development of drought research, and (ii) policy implementation.

Conference Topics

DROUGHT-R&SPI addresses drought identification and characterization, drought assessment (impacts) and drought policies to develop drought management plans at different scales (river basin, national and international).

This conference will serve as a forum for discussion among scientists working on drought, stakeholders, water managers, experts and representatives of authorities on experiences, about the needs and challenges for drought management. Particularly, the conference will address the topics of:

  • Drought identification and characterization
  • Drought indicators, monitoring and forecasting, and early warning systems
  • Assessment of past and future drought impacts
  • Drought risk and vulnerability perception and assessment
  • Water management and governance under drought conditions
  • Drought preparedness and mitigation strategies
  • Development and implementation of Drought Policies and Plans from the local to the regional, national and international levels
  • Research and Science Interfaces with Drought Policies

The DROUGHT-R&SPI project

Drought is a natural hazard that has hit Europe hard over the last decades. Likely it will become more frequent and more severe due to the increased likelihood of warmer northern winters and hotter Mediterranean summers. There is an urgent need to improve drought preparedness through increased knowledge, drought management plans and an improved science-policy interfacing that will reduce vulnerability to future drought and the risks they pose for Europe. Drought-R&SPI strives to address this pressing need.

Drought-R&SPI aims to enhance the understanding of the: (i) drought as a natural hazard, incl. climate drivers, drought processes and occurrences, (ii) environmental and socio-economic impacts, and (iii) vulnerabilities, risks and policy responses, incl. the further development of drought management plans in support of EU and other international policies, e.g. UN/ISDR-HFA. The project addresses the past and future climate, link science and science policy dialogue across scales and across a range of affected sectors.