Climate change today is the single greatest threat to water security worldwide. Variable rates and patterns of rainfall, evaporation, and recharge have made freshwater supplies vulnerable to overexploitation, droughts, contamination, and other challenges. This is especially true for groundwater resources where the effects of climate change have yet to be fully ascertained. Groundwater, in fact, is especially vulnerable because it is often ignored by the public and is treated by many policymakers as the neglected stepchild of the hydrocycle. As a result, in many regions of the world, groundwater management, governance, and monitoring are far less developed than for surface water resources.
Water security and sustainability, including in the realm of groundwater resources, has been a focal point of the International Water Resources Association. With nearly 50 years of experience, IWRA is the leading international water organization bridging the fields of science and policy – bringing together scientists, engineers, managers, and policy-makers – to explore means and opportunities to protect freshwater supplies for people, communities, and the environment. While groundwater is often viewed as “out of sight, out of mind,” IWRA has incorporated groundwater issues at its Congresses and other events, in its research projects, and in general discourse. Nevertheless, more can and must be done to address the growing challenges surrounding groundwater resources and climate change.
Recognizing the critical role that groundwater plays in the hydrocycle and in serving as a source of freshwater for people and habitats worldwide, IWRA now seeks to further its efforts through this important international conference on Addressing Groundwater Resilience under Climate Change. Through this conference, we hope to continue facilitating and encouraging the development of knowledge and information on the intersection of groundwater and climate change. In particular, we aspire to find means and mechanisms to enhance aquifer resiliency in the face of global changes that will allow us both to exploit this precious resource and ensure its availability for the environment and future generations. Ultimately, and possibly rather idealistically, we sincerely hope that this event will further bridge the gap between science and policy-making, and lead to enhanced governance of critical freshwater resources globally.
Accordingly, on behalf of IWRA and our partners and collaborators in this initiative, I am pleased to invite you to this innovative, international, online conference scheduled for Thursday, October 29th and Friday, October 30th, 2020. I strongly encourage all of you, whether you are working at the community or the international level, to take part in the program and contribute to the agenda so that everyone can learn from your knowledge and experience. I look forward to welcoming you all remotely in October!
Prof. Jean Fried & Prof. Jacques Ganoulis
Co-Chairs of the International Scientific Committee
When IWRA decided to organize its first online International Conference on “Groundwater and Climate Change”, the COVID-19 virus was still unknown and nobody could have anticipated thepandemic that, a few months later, would paralyze the global economy. This conference’s initial idea was to mobilize everyone interested in the topic of groundwater resilience under climate change, at all levels of civil society, by presenting recent research and policy developments in an ambitious and innovative online format.
The pandemic crisis has now fully justified this approach, not only its organization but also itssubstance. Concerning the organizational part, the online gathering of scientists, academics, water professionals and policy-makers from all over the world the virtual format rather than face-to-face, has the benefits of eliminating both travel costs and the associated carbon footprint. On the substantial part, the coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the high pressure that human activities can exert on nature. Only a few weeks after people and communities started to shelter at home, pollution levels from human activities in cities and coastal areas worldwide reduced dramatically. And, as an example, the water in Venice’s canals became much more transparent,and dolphins came close to the shoreline in Thessaloniki, the Mediterranean home city ofJacques. In addition, we can easily imagine the benefits that have accrued to the climate system generated through the elimination of millions of tons of CO2 gaseous emissions resulting from the ongoing drastic reduction of the international and national air travel.
How groundwater can foster global water resilience to climate change is at the core of this conference, entitled “Assessing Groundwater Resilience under Climate Change”. Conference participants are asked to provide well-justified proposals and ideas to the following questions that correspond to the five main themes of the conference:
1) Are data and information available for assessing the influence of climate change (CC) on the hydrological water cycle and more specifically on natural groundwater resources (GWR)?
2) Can we increase water resilience to CC by remediating GWR’s quantity and quality?
3) What is the role of new technologies and information and communication technologies (ICTs)?
4) Can GWR governance improve water resilience under CC?
5) How education and capacity building can contribute to this aim?
It is our pleasure to welcome innovative contributions from all participants, and to have fruitful interactive debates during this conference next October.