Integrated Assessments of Water Scarcity: Knowns, Unknowns and Ways Forward

  • Tabea K. Lissner
  • Caroline A. Sullivan
  • Dominik E. Reusser
  • Jürgen P. Kropp
Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)


Inadequate access to water is already a problem in many regions of the world and processes of global change are expected to further exacerbate the situation. Many aspects determine the adequacy of water resources: beside actual physical water stress, where the resource itself is limited, economic and social water stress can be experienced if access to resource is limited by inadequate infrastructure, political or financial constraints. Further, water quality is an essential determinant of adequate water access. All human activities as well as ecosystems require water in sufficient quantity and quality for their functioning. To assess the adequacy of water availability for human use, integrated approaches are needed that allow to view the multiple determinants in conjunction and provide sound results as a basis for informed decisions. This contribution gives an overview of existing knowledge on different aspects to measure water scarcity and points out gaps in existing approaches. It then proposes two parts of an integrated approach to look at the multiple dimensions of water scarcity. It first outlines the AHEAD approach to measure Adequate Human livelihood conditions for wEll-being And Development. The approach allows viewing impacts of climate change, e.g. changes in water availability, within the wider context of AHEAD conditions. However, adequate water access is not determined by water availability alone. To assess the water requirements for different sectors in more detail, we present a second approach to assess the multiple determinants of water adequacy, including aspects of quantity, quality as well as access, in an integrated way.



The work has been developed within a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, specifically through the International Climate Initiative (ICI).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tabea K. Lissner
    • 1
    • 2
  • Caroline A. Sullivan
    • 3
  • Dominik E. Reusser
    • 1
  • Jürgen P. Kropp
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Geography DepartmentHumboldt-UniversityBerlinGermany
  3. 3.School of Environment Science and EngineeringSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Geological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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