Water and climate change are inextricably linked. Climate change affects the world’s water in complex ways. From unpredictable rainfall patterns to shrinking ice sheets, rising sea levels, floods and droughts – most impacts of climate change come down to water. Climate change is exacerbating both water scarcity and water-related hazards (such as floods and droughts), as rising temperatures disrupt precipitation patterns and the entire water cycle.
About two billion people worldwide don’t have access to safe drinking water today (SDG Report 2022), and roughly half of the world’s population is experiencing severe water scarcity for at least part of the year. Only 0.5 per cent of water on Earth is useable and available freshwater.
Rising global temperatures increase the moisture the atmosphere can hold, resulting in more storms and heavy rains, but paradoxically also more intense dry spells as more water evaporates from the land and global weather patterns change.
Since 2000, flood-related disasters have risen by 134 per cent compared with the two previous decades. Most of the flood-related deaths and economic losses were recorded in Asia. The number and duration of droughts also increased by 29 per cent over this same period. Most drought-related deaths occurred in Africa.