DROUGHT-R&SPI will reach its objectives through:

Research at local to pan-European scale

Transfer of knowledge and information in an interactive way across scales (local, river basin, national, pan-European) is a key issue in DROUGHT-R&SPI. Reviews of drought episodes have demonstrated that although climate drivers (precipitation, temperature) and hydrology (streamflow) can be similar across rather large regions in Europe, most impacts (e.g. crop yield losses, economic losses in agriculture, conflicts over water allocation) can vary significantly across space, particularly because of the differentiation of their causal chains (e.g. Benson and Clay, 1998; Wheaton et al., 2005; Simelton et al., 2009). Therefore, drought risk reduction strategies require context-specific analyses of suggested options, in accordance with a variety of potential constraints and opportunities, including time, cost, technical feasibility, equity, effectiveness, acceptable levels of risk, as well as the overall institutional, legal, environmental and socio-cultural context. Long-term risk reduction requires that measures for improving preparedness are complemented with long-term strategies, designed to reduce underlying vulnerabilities. These need to be integrated into local development plans. DROUGHT-R&SPI will achieve this through methodology development in well-selected case studies in water-stressed regions across Europe. However, local plans and measures also need to be embedded in relevant sectorial policies, broad-based national planning frameworks and EU policies. This calls for a wider view (i.e. in support of further design, development and implementation of EU and other international policies). In addition, drought preparedness and reduction of drought vulnerabilities and risk reduction at the local and river basin scale require adequate drought monitoring and forecasting. This can only be further developed if the drought generating processes, which typically are driven by large-scale climate drivers, but also by regional land surface feedbacks, are well understood. Hence, DROUGHT-R&SPI also will for the first time link pan-European scale drought research with detailed case study scale vulnerability assessments.

Science-Policy Interfacing

Another key feature of DROUGHT-R&SPI is the establishment of Dialogue Platform Fora. The dialogue will take place at two scales, i.e. case study scale and the pan-European scale. The project will develop the science-policy interfacing right from the beginning of the project, which is a main advantage compared to earlier projects where research and policy make an ex post integration. At the case study scale local policy actors, decision-makers, water managers, stakeholders and risk experts will be invited. Drought-R&SPI will develop preliminary and exemplary drought hazard, impact and vulnerability analyses to map the range of factors that may influence vulnerability to future events, anticipated risks and strategies for drought risk reduction following the UN-ISDR framework (UN/ISDR, 2007a; 2007b), which by the end of the project will be turned into final analyses. The identification and assessment of different options and policy approaches, in view of climate projections, will feed into the systematic classification of drought vulnerability factors in different geoclimatic regions, thus facilitating future (integrated) policy development according to regional specificities. Drought-R&SPI will ensure a transfer of knowledge between the Case Study Fora and the pan-European Dialogue and Evaluation Forum (hereafter pan-European Dialogue Forum) from the start of the project onwards. The participants of this platform are water managers, stakeholders (e.g. COPA-COGECA, EUREAU, INE, IUCN), UN-ISDR Europe Regional Office, policy-makers and implementers. (Preliminary) outcome from the case studies will be used together with the analyses of the drought hazard, impacts and vulnerabilities at a pan-European scale: (i) to identify drought-sensitive regions and sectors in Europe, and (ii) to support the design, development and implementation of EU and other international policies. A number of iteration steps with the Dialogue Fora are foreseen until the end of the project that involve feedback.

Project objectives

  • Drought as a natural hazard, incl. climate drivers, drought generating processes and occurrences
  • Environmental and socio-economic impacts
  • Vulnerabilities, risks and policy responses, incl. the further development of drought management plans in support of EU and other international policies