Water Resources Management

, Volume 32, Issue 15, pp 4819–4832 | Cite as

On the Barriers to Adaption to Less Water under Climate Change: Policy Choices in Mediterranean Countries

  • Ana IglesiasEmail author
  • David Santillán
  • Luis Garrote


Barriers and constraints to adapting water resources management to climate change in the Mediterranean region are analysed in this paper. First, we analysed the risks to the water resources sector derived from climate change. We then identified the main objective of water adaptation measures: ensuring there is enough water for food, for people, and for ecosystems. This implies visions about availability - being sufficient water -, accessibility - both physical and economic access -, and adequacy - being safe for ecosystems and human consumption. A portfolio of local and collective actions to adapt water management for agriculture to climate change in Mediterranean countries is presented. Adaptation strategies included improved efficiency, optimisation of governance, enhancement of participation, development of risk-based choices, and economic instruments. Finally, the paper categorised the constraints to implement the measures, give specific examples about these issues and also quantify their impact. When considering constraints and opportunities to implement these water management practices, any environmental policy regulating their adoption should be based on recommending the use of extension and training to local actors on the application of the practices.


Water management Climate change adaptation Water availability 

1 Introduction

Agricultural growth in Mediterranean countries was achieved by consuming very large amounts of water and other inputs. Today, environmental and urban pressures challenge the use of water for food production. There is a general consensus about the unsustainability of the present model of water use for agriculture in Mediterranean regions and about the need to reach a balance for rural development, food security and the environment (Iglesias and Buono 2009; Iglesias et al. 2011a; Vorosmarty et al. 2000). Climate change will likely affect rural societies and the environment creating or reinforcing new challenges to water management. In particular, agricultural management needs to re-think how to contribute to the sustainability of freshwater availability and quality while providing water for crops production in a hot and arid climate. However, in Mediterranean countries, water scarcity has become so acute, that efforts should also focus on water-saving priorities.

Increasing water use efficiency to meet agricultural demands is necessary, but not sufficient. It is possible, however, to significantly improve water service to agriculture where it has been lagging behind, and thus improve current and future imbalances. This would slow the trend towards degradation of the environment and displacement of the rural population to urban areas, which is often driven by the low productivity and instability of dryland farming in Mediterranean countries. Significant progress in reaching environmental and social targets on water use in the Mediterranean - particularly in areas with large ecosystem degradation - requires a collective effort across sectors. However, designing and facilitating the transition towards local adaptation solutions is important to achieve this. Societies have shown, throughout history, a great ability to adapt to changing conditions, with or without a conscious response by citizens and government (Iglesias 2009). Mediterranean countries have a long standing history of adapting to water scarcity. In many regions the achievements have been impressive, and there are new approaches for integrating all water users in a more coherent management scheme. However, increasing adaptive capacity and resiliency requires the support of policy and the private sector.

A number of previous studies have provided insights to evaluate the barriers to adaptation; here we summarise major contributions that guided our methodological choice and informed us about the need for a more concrete approach to evaluate the barriers to adaptation for water resources management in the Mediterranean region (Table 1). Moser and Ekstrom (2010) developed a normative approach to evaluate the social governance process of adaptation, based on systematic framework to identify barriers that may impede the process of adaptation. However, this broad guideline requires testing and refinement in order to apply it to specific situations. The key issue of national policy is clearly informed by Lim et al. (2005) providing a framework to mainstream adaptation into sustainable development policies. However, their approach requires further guidance on how to evaluate the outcome of concrete measures. Finally, O’Neill et al. (2014) provide very clear definition of pathways of socio-economic development associated to climate change scenarios, to ensure a common set of assumptions that facilitate comparability of results across different studies. However, the assumptions of socio-economic development are extremely wide simplifications and not unique pathways and not directly applicable at the local scale. Our approach fills the gaps of previous studies to evaluate barriers for water resources management in the Mediterranean region by providing and testing broad governance and policy choices in concrete examples, defining and evaluating the outcome of proposed measures, and assessing challenges in specific situations.
Table 1

A selection of approaches to evaluate barriers to adaptation: contributions and challenges for applicability for water resources management in the Mediterranean region




Barriers framework

Adaptation policy framework

Scenario analysis

Key reference

Moser and Ekstrom (2010)

Lim et al. (2005)

O’Neill et al. (2014)

Key contribution

Normative approach to evaluate the social governance process of adaptation

Mainstreaming the development of national strategies for adaptation in the sustainable development policy context

Definition of pathways of socio-economic development associated to climate change scenarios

Main strength

Systematic framework to identify barriers that may impede the process of adaptation

Examples of implementation focussing on evaluation of current and future risks and well defined participatory process to develop national policies

Ensures a set of common assumptions that facilitate comparability of Results across different studies

Main challenge

Very broad guideline to diagnose the structural elements of adaptation and means to overcome the barriers

General guidance on possible linkages to policy development

The assumptions of socio-economic development are global simplifications and not unique pathways, local pathways are not considered

Some challenges to apply the approach for water resources management

The approach requires testing and refinement in order to apply it to specific situations

The approach requires further guidance on how to evaluate the outcome of concrete measures

The approach requires complete definition of measures to adaptation for water resources management

This paper aims to contribute to understand potential local and collective adaptation strategies to reduce the use of water for agriculture in Mediterranean countries in view of climate change. Following this introduction that outlines the main challenges, we assess the risks of climate change to water resources and define the main objectives of the adaptation plan. We then evaluate local and collective actions towards adaptation. We finally explore the regional barriers from the technical, social and economic points of view and discuss the scenarios for the future. Finally, we suggest some policy implications based on the results that may be contribute to the adaptation of water resources for agriculture to climate change in the Mediterranean region.

2 Methods and Data

The methodological framework of this study links the assessment of water scarcity risks to formulation of adaptation policies. We reviewed and analysed relevant literature covering climate change adaptation in water resources. We analysed and classified climate change adaptation measures in water resources with special emphasis on the Mediterranean region. We compiled methods for assessing adaptation actions and compared the published results. The aim was to synthesize the current knowledge on barriers to adaptation and propose practical pathways to overcome such barriers.

The approach includes five steps (Fig. 1): 1) identification of water scarcity risks (Section 3); 2) defining the objectives of the adaptation plan (Section 4); 3) selecting a portfolio of measures (Section 5); 4) overcoming the barriers to implementation (Section 6); 5) exploring policy choices (Section 7). In the following part of the paper we describe the main findings of our study with special emphasis on the barriers to implementation. We propose four complementary lines of action to transform barriers into opportunities for improving adaptation effectiveness: improve the co-design process, invest in knowledge, link water and agricultural management and re-think infrastructure management.
Fig. 1

Methodological framework for the study

In the analysis we made used of a regional assessment of water availability under climate change in Europe (Garrote et al. 2015a). This study produced high-resolution maps of water availability along European rivers under an ensemble of climate scenarios. These estimates of water availability were compared to projected user needs to diagnose potential water scarcity under a range of adaptation options. The quantitative results are then used to suggest potential of adaptation measures in the Mediterranean region, which is increasingly constrained by scarcity of natural resources. We have used part of these results to characterize the risk of water scarcity and to illustrate the potential effectiveness of some of the adaptation measures for other regions.

3 Identification of Water Scarcity Risks

Water resources and clearly affected by climate change and there are numerous studies that support the observed impacts in the last decades and the projected future impacts (IPCC 2014). The projected impacts pose challenges for many water-dependent activities and may magnify the regional differences in Mediterranean rural communities (Iglesias et al. 2007; Garrote 2017). Most of the studies clearly show the intensification of unsustainability of maintaining the present model of water management for agriculture (Garrote et al. 2015b; Gleeson et al. 2012; Huntjens et al. 2010).

The risk of climate change evolves from changes in precipitation and temperature to impacts in the socio-ecological systems. The Mediterranean region is becoming too hot and too dry and evapotranspiration is expected to continue to increase. At the same time, extreme event are also increasing and future floods and drought will intensify in the future (Feyen et al. 2012; Iglesias and Garrote 2014). Additional concern is coastal flooding due to sea level rise. These changes have a direct and certain negative effect on soil erosion, salinity, structure and drainage with consequences for reduced biodiversity, land productivity, water demand, and, in turn, affect livelihoods in rural areas (Table 2). According to extensive reviews on the consequences of climate change in the Mediterranean region (see for example: EEA 2017; Iglesias and Garrote 2015; IPCC 2014), an intensification of water shortages will be the most damaging impact, with limited adaptation options in the most vulnerable areas.
Table 2

Risk of climate change, expected intensity of effects, potential consequences for agro-ecosystems and rural areas, and confidence level

Risk of climate change

Expected intensity of negative effects

Potential consequences for agro-ecosystems and rural areas

Challenges to the sustainability of water resources

Changes in hydrological regime. Differences in water needs.

Increased water shortage.

Variations in hydrological regime.

Decreased availability of water.

Risks of water quality loss.

Increased risk of soil salinization.

Conflicts among users.

Groundwater abstraction, depletion,anddecrease in water quality.

Increase irrigation requirements

High in areas already vulnerable to water scarcity

Increased demand for irrigation

Decreased yield of crops

Increased water and soil salinity and erosion

High for southern countries.

The decrease in water quality from nutrient leaching.

Decreased crop yields.

Land abandonment.

Increased risk of desertification.

Loss of rural income.

Increased expenditure in emergency and remediation actions

High for regions with low adaptation capacity.

Loss of rural income.

Economic imbalances.

Biodiversity loss

High for vulnerable regions

Loss of natural adaptation options

Modified interaction among species

In the Mediterranean region, water is a limiting factor for development and is therefore considered a scarce resource. As an illustration, Fig. 2 shows the projected changes in water availability in Southern European rivers for the short term (2040) and long term (2080) scenarios under emission scenarios RCP4 and RCP8 estimated in the European project BASE (Garrote et al. 2015a). The model uses streamflow computed with the PCR-GLOBWB model (van Beek and Bierkens 2009) forced with GFDL-ESM2NM climatic models, available for downloading from the CORDEX data portal. Water availability is estimated for every point in the “Hydro1k” river network (EROS 2008) as the maximum demand that can be supplied with a minimum gross reliability of 98% in volume, accounting for all reservoirs in the ICOLD World Register of Dams (ICOLD 2004) with more than 5 hm3 of storage capacity. Negative changes dominate in Mediterranean basins, with many rivers experiencing reduction of water availability larger than 20%. The strong reduction in water availability projected for the Mediterranean region will imply that water will be a limiting factor in many economic sectors.
Fig. 2

Average results of relative changes with respect to historical period (1960-1999) in surface water availability for Southern European rivers. Emission scenarios RCP4.5 (top) and RCP8.8 (bottom), in short term (2020-2059, left), and long term (2060-2099, right) periods with GFDL climate forcing

4 Defining the Objectives of the Adaptation Plan

4.1 Improving the Social Service of Water

It has long been recognized that a stable and reliable supply of water reduces poverty. This was, in fact, the rationale behind the large water infrastructure projects developed during the past century and continues to be one of the main objectives of water policy. Stable and reliable water has direct effects on human health, all economic sectors, migration and social stability. Water for agriculture reduces farmers’ reliance on external inputs and state subsidies and increases rural stability. Indeed, rural areas with widespread irrigation, have more than double income than dryland areas.

The ability of societies to anticipate and face an external shock is often called their adaptive capacity (Iglesias et al. 2013; IPCC 2014). The components of adaptive capacity are closely related to the components of human development and sustainability and therefore the adaptive capacity of different social groups is very different. Access to clean water and sanitation is one of the most relevant indicators for development and sustainability. In general, rural populations in low-income marginal areas have particularly low adaptive capacity and policies in response to climate change need to address specifically these areas. A societal risk derived from the lack of water is increased inequalities between populations with different levels of adaptive capacity. Therefore a strong water sector can foster equality while creating opportunities for the disadvantaged (Iglesias et al. 2013).

4.2 Improving the Ecosystem Service of Water

Water management will have to address the social and ecosystem service of water compatible with a scenario of availability reduction. In Europe it has long been acknowledged that ecosystems should be the focus of water-related policies, as legally established by the Water Framework Directive. Integrated water resources management provides the framework to allocate water among users according to global objectives of social welfare and sustainable development, taking into account the availability of the necessary resources, so that sectoral policies can be based on these targets, following a coordinated plan of action.

Future capacity of freshwater ecosystems to provide important ecosystem services of water services may be threated due to climate change (Bates et al. 2008). Relevant adaptation alternatives for improving the ecosystem service of water aim to protect, restore, enhance, or replace water ecosystem services with respect to future threats (Capon and Bunn 2015), that in the European Mediterranean area, actions should also be within the context of the Water Framework Directive. The objectives of the adaptation plan, for areas with low to moderate climate change risks, may include the increase of protected areas by reserve networks (Hansen and Hoffman 2010), the location of new reserves in areas expected to reach high future value (Fuller et al. 2010), or even the restriction of development by, for instance, the removal of civil infrastructures or activities (e.g. Pittock 2009). The restoration of water ecosystem services seeks to restore the supply of vulnerable ecosystem services of water and may involve the restoration of riparian vegetation or flow regime, among other options.

In areas where risks to ecosystem services of water are great or even high, the adaptation aim should be focused on the enhancement or replacement of services. An example of the former is the over-restoring riparian vegetation to increase the capacity of vegetation to decrease water temperature and reduce risks to aquatic biota due to warming (Davies 2010). The replacement of water ecosystem services might involve hard-engineering actions, such as the construction of new water storage facilities or artificial ecosystems, but this should only be considered as alternative where less disruptive methods have failed in areas of extremely high risk or where highly valued water ecosystem services should be supplied.

5 Selecting a Portfolio of Adaptation Measures

The need for adaptation to climate change to minimise its costs is widely acknowledged by scientists in the last 30 years, and by the entire society since the Paris agreement on climate change in 2016. Re-thinking water policies is essential for adapting to less water. Many studies have reflected on the management actions and policies that may be appropriate for redressing impact of climate change in water resources (see Iglesias and Garrote 2015 for a full review of studies). The studies show that, for the water sector, planned interventions must consider both supply side and demand side solutions (Iglesias and Garrote 2015; Garrote et al. 2015b, 2016; Gleick and Palaniappan 2010). Recent studies highlight the distinction between local and collective actions and the importance in co-designing adaptation plans (García de Jalón et al. 2014; Ivey et al. 2004). Local measures are taken by public or private actors, such as farmers, farmers groups, and local water managers in response to actual or expected water scarcity, with or without the active intervention of policy (García de Jalón et al. 2013). Collective measures are usually a result of implementing policies. Collective actions are therefore associated water management authorities, or public agencies, and may be linked to public investment.

Table 3 summarises potential adaptation actions that can be taken at the local or collective level, based on the database reported by Iglesias and Garrote (2015). At the local level, infrastructure for irrigation, technology and risk transferring measures dominate the actions. Concrete actions include desalinisation, water re-use technology, alternatives of groundwater management, water harvesting, water scarcity insurance, and water markets (Oweis and Hachum 2005; Glenk and Fischer 2010; Iglesias et al. 2011b, 2015). The role of pilot studies for adaptation is essential to enhance knowledge transfer, demonstration and capacity building.
Table 3

Adaptation measures related to agricultural water management in response to the risk of climate change in Mediterranean countries

Adaptation measure related to agricultural water management in response to the risk of climate change

Effect of implementing the adaptation measure

Overcoming the barriers

Implement regional adaptation plans

Enhances effectiveness of adaptation measures


Improve water charging and trade

Decreases inefficient use of water


Re-negotiation of allocation agreements

Improves water use efficiency


Set clear water use priorities

Improves water use efficiency


Improved monitoring and early warning

Mitigates consequences of adverse events


Insurance to floods or drought

Decreases economic losses to the farmer


Increase water allocation for ecosystems

Improves ecosystem services, effective at the global level


Improve coordination planning

Enhances effectiveness of adaptation measures


Maintain ecological corridors

Improves biodiversity with positive global consequences


Introduce drought-resistant crops

Improves agronomic water use efficiency


Develop climate change resilient crops

Mitigates impacts of climate change


Innovation and technology

Improves effectiveness of adaptation measures and reduces costs


Innovation: water use efficiency

Increases water availability


Farmers as “custodians” of floodplains

Decreases risk of flood damages


Change in crops and cropping patterns

Decreases economic risk to farmers


Improve practices to retain soil moisture

Decreases the need for additional water to crops


Improve nitrogen fertilisation efficiency

Reduces agricultural diffuse pollution


Soil carbon management and reduced tillage

Reduces soil erosion and improves soil water retention capacity


Protect against soil erosion

Reduces land degradation


Improve crop diversification

Improves biodiversity


Improve soil moisture retention capacity

Increases water use efficiency


Integrate demands in conjunctive systems

Increases management flexibility and water availability


Create/restore wetlands

Reduces flood peaks


Enhance flood plain management

Reduces flood vulnerability


Improve drainage systems

Reduces extent and duration of flooding


Hard defences

Decreases risk of flood damages


Increase rainfall interception capacity

Reduces flood peaks at the local level


Introduce new irrigation areas

Develops new agricultural land


Small-scale water reservoirs on farmland

Increases water management flexibility at the local level


Improve the reservoir capacity

Increases management flexibility and water availability at regional level


Water reutilisation

Increases water availability


At the collective level, improved water resources management, is the priority for adaptation especially when water is shared between users or basins (Ma et al. 2008). The integration of water demands in conjunctive systems allows for the joint management of surface and groundwater resources to overcome dry periods and thus build robustness into water resources systems (Pulido-Velazquez et al. 2011).

Recent studies highlight that science based adaptation policies and a clear and public policy process need to incorporate local and collective interests (de Stefano et al. 2014) and citizens’ choices and their policy expectations (García de Jalón et al. 2013).

Iglesias and Garrote (2015) show that the more interesting adaptation options in terms of their benefit to effort ratio are the following: improving coordination planning, setting clear water use priorities and increasing water allocation for ecosystems. Iglesias and Garrote (2015) also show that the adaptation options most beneficial at a farm scale are the improvement of drainage systems and small-scale water reservoirs on farmland.

6 Overcoming the Barriers to Implementation

Barriers to adaptation are well known and usually are driven by the following facts: high cost of implementing the measure, lack of incentives, lack of knowledge. In this section we propose four lines of action to overcome the barriers to implementation of adaptation measures.

6.1 Strengthening Social Organisation by Co-Design of Adaptation Measures

The social organisation includes several actions. First, understanding stakeholders’ perceptions towards solutions is crucial when defining adaptation strategies in order to identify barriers to necessary behavioural changes (Dessai and Sims 2010), given the strong inter-linkages between problem perception and actions (Giordano and Vurro 2010; Stoutenborough and Vedlitz 2014; Urquijo and De Stefano 2016). Second, co-designing adaptation has led to demonstrate the value for public money and efficient use of resources. A recent large-scale study points to the same conclusions in a complex socio-environmental system in southern Spain (Iglesias et al. 2015); the study highlighted that co-design led to burden-sharing arrangements and duties for cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders. Finally, mainstreaming adaptation into development policies is imperative.

6.2 Investing in Knowledge

It has been recognised that knowledge production and sharing play a central role for achieving sustainable management of water resources (Jacobs et al. 2016). Investing in knowledge has been part of many innovation efforts in water resources management, but it is not simple. For example, technical knowledge is shared within sectors (e.g., irrigation), but technical knowledge transfer across sectors (e.g., from agriculture to health) is a challenge. In the case of governance knowledge, creation and transfer is even more challenging due to the barriers in science and policy interactions. In all cases, co-creation of knowledge with the users is a central aspect ensuring implementation.

Social constraints to change a management practice are largely associated to the limitations in governance or by the perception of the limited value of the management alternative. The connections between knowledge and action for water resources management are extremely diverse, and their performance is not yet well understood (Jacobs et al. 2016).

6.3 Linking Water and Agricultural Management

Most water management measures described in this review require the acquisition of a specific knowledge by the stakeholder that takes or promotes the action, and a more detailed planning in water management activities. However, farmers and water managers promote water saving practices even if they are expensive (e.g., investment in equipment), or if there is a regular cost to maintain the measure (e.g., to support advisory services to optimise crop climate interactions or early warning systems for drought management by the water basin authorities). A very promising measure is the use of monitoring and remote sensing data to irrigate only the fields that are under water stress, is becoming clearly useful, economically feasible and with demonstrated water savings.

Sometimes, seemingly minor innovations within a sector can provide high returns when there are adequate investments in knowledge transfer. This is the case of linking knowledge to farmers’ choices. For example, optimising crop-climate interactions is crucial to adjust the amount of water used to produce food. Possible adjustments include changes in planting dates, varieties, input application and water management in the field. Another example is the low tillage practice that may contribute to increase soil water holding capacity in dryland agricultural areas. However, there is clear evidence that these adjustments could just moderate the impacts of climate change and the adaptation process needs very large efforts and large investments by the states (Lobell et al. 2008).

Knowledge transfer in irrigation design, techniques and management has proved to be extremely successful since irrigation is essential to guarantee stable and economically suitable production in many areas. Some practices are easily implemented, for example adjusting crop needs to water requirements or deficit irrigation. Others require capital investments, for example changes in the irrigation systems. Finally others require institutional and organizational coordination, for example changes in land use.

6.4 Re-Thinking Infrastructure Management

Reservoirs are components of complex water resources systems that may expand over a large territory. Water flow regulation through reservoirs has been one of the most important strategies for water resources management in Mediterranean countries and has generated significant impacts (Iglesias et al. 2013). However, reservoir operation is a challenge when water serves multiple uses, such as irrigation, flood control or ecosystem services during dry periods.

Climate change in Mediterranean countries will certainly decrease water inflow and increase inflow variability, making reservoir operations even more challenging, especially in areas where these changes will call for demand reductions. It is unlikely that global reservoir capacity will increase significantly; it can only be considered as a possible solution to increase availability in local systems with regulation deficit and always adopting correlative measures to mitigate environmental impacts and to avoid an increase in irrigation demand. Therefore, innovative infrastructure management is imperative. The combination of several sources of water supply with different characteristics increases the robustness and resilience of water resources systems.

An example of the effectiveness of this strategy is shown in Fig. 3, where the projection of water availability in the Ebro basin (Spain) is compared to the projection of the range of water abstractions in the basin. Water availability projections are computed from runoff estimates obtained with the application of PCR-GLOBWB to five different combinations of climate models (GFDL-ESM2NM, HadGEM2-ES, IPSL-CM5A-LR, MIROC-ESM-CHEM and NorESM1-M) under RCP8.5 emission scenario. The graphic on the left corresponds to reference water management and the graphic on the right corresponds to improved water management by joint optimization of all supply sources and demand nodes in the basin. The projected water scarcity for the long term time slice under reference management disappears as a consequence of the improvement in the management of water resources.
Fig. 3

Evolution water availability in the Ebro basin (Spain) as a fraction of current mean annual runoff under emission scenario RCP8.5. Left: Reference management. Right: Improved water management. The dashed black lines represent the range of estimated water abstractions

The global effect on Southern Europe is illustrated in Fig. 4, which represents the ratio of estimated water abstractions to estimated water availability for Southern European rivers. The figure compares four cases: historical (top) and long term period (bottom) under reference management (left) and improved management (right), for one of the climate forcing models included in Fig. 3 (GFDL model). The figure shows that the effect of improved management can be very important, and in many rivers, it may even improve the future conditions with respect to the historical period with reference management.
Fig. 4

Ratio of estimated water withdrawals to estimated water availability for Southern European rivers. Historical situation (1960-1999, top) and long term (2060-2099, bottom) under emission scenario RCP8.5 with GFDL climate forcing. Left: Reference management. Right: Improved water management

7 Policy Choices to Address Water Scarcity

Policy choices to address water scarcity depend on the severity of the problem and the potential cooperation and synergies with other policies (Table 4). Coordination with social and economic policies ensures the implementation of pro-poor policies, education, improved sanitation, and change in the allocation of water among sectors. To ensure adequate coordination it is necessary to also reform the conflict prevention institutions. Technological innovation also requires policy coordination since the needed actions are collective and, in most cases, require regulation or subsidies. That is the case for the implementation of more efficient technologies, cooperative management and flexible reservoir management. Finally, climate policy has the opportunity to contribute to improved water policy by re-thinking the water policy and help creating a parading shift, designing safety net programmes and developing new alternative economic sectors less dependent on climate. In cases where the physical infrastructure is not developed, climate change and development policies need to be coordinated to ensure human health.
Table 4

A summary of policies that reduce water scarcity and need for cooperation with other policies

Need for water policy coordination with other policies

Examples of policies to reduce adapt to water scarcity

Social and economic policies

Promote pro-poor management

Promote education

Improve access to water for production and sanitation

Reform conflict prevention institutions

Reduce water use

Technological innovation

Promote more efficient technologies

Promote information sharing and cooperative management

Integrate ground and surface water management

Promote flexible water storage options

Climate change policy

Promote policies that help create a paradigm shift

Designing safety net programmes

Develop new alternative sectors

Invest in physical infrastructure

8 Conclusions

Moving towards sustainability is vital for future water security and an essential component of climate change adaptation. Some measures are well-tested and could be adopted. But, in order to overcome the barriers to adaptation efforts are required across a variety of areas. As the climate becomes more volatile, implementing adaptation to less water has never been more important. This study proposes a framework for evaluating the most common barriers to implement adaptation by governments, administrations and local communities.

How best to manage the lack of water in the future has become a critical focus for policymakers, yet this remains a complex task, with many different requirements. As the imbalance between rainfall and water needs can never be eliminated in Mediterranean countries, it is important to build resilience within communities, so that society can re-design behaviour to be better prepared in the future.



We acknowledge the financial support of the European Commission through iSQAPPER project and of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid through ADAPT project. An initial shorter version of the paper has been presented at the 10th World Congress of EWRA “Panta Rhei”, Athens, Greece, 5-9 July, 2017.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural EconomicsUniversidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM)MadridSpain

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