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15th April 2024

Climate Crisis: informing Scotland’s actionable mitigation and adaptation response to water scarcity

Loch water reflection - Photo credit: Sarah Halliday

Scotland’s climate is changing at a rate unprecedented in human history. We are becoming exposed to climate related risks, such as water scarcity, that were not considered significant in the past and have not been planned for. The first phase in addressing this shift in risk has been to develop early warning and emergency measures to mitigate the impacts of exceptional events such as the 2018 European drought and its impact in Scotland. However, as we better understand the projected increasing severity and frequency of dry periods and our potential future demands on water supply, an adaptation gap has become evident that risks the security of what has, up until now, been seen as a dependable, high-quality water supply.

In this project the research team review past, present and future changes in water scarcity risk in Scotland. Through engagement with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the water sector and government agencies the research team asked the questions: 1) What is currently being done to reduce the likelihood and severity of water scarcity? 2) How effective are these strategies now and will they still work under a changing climate future? 3) What additional actions do we need to take to address water scarcity in the future?

In answering these questions, the research team highlight the current challenges in addressing the water scarcity risk and provide recommendations on how to address them. These recommendations are presented as programme of work over the short and long term. To take it forward, the research team propose a governance structure formed of representatives from the relevant agencies and in partnership with businesses and communities. The programme is a prioritised set of recommended actions that would contribute to the delivery of a system of national water resource planning, supported by improved levels of water stewardship from across society. The planning will be informed by better access to water supply and demand information and a programme of research that addresses the evidence gaps and improves knowledge exchange across the water sector.

Previous project page

This project is one of a cluster of  CREW water scarcity projects in 2023-2024. For more information please see their project pages:

Project Outputs

CRW2022_07 Mitigation and adaption response to water scarcity - Project Story Map