Climate-Informed Decision Support Tools for Sustainable Water Management

Inter-American Development Bank;

This event was webcasted live - visit SIWI Video Hub for more viewing and sharing options.


Weak institutions, lack of data, poor understanding of ecosystems, and inflexibility of infrastructure are often cited as obstacles to sustainable water management. Lack of generally accepted decision-making methodologies in the face of climate variability and change should be added. There is widespread agreement about the need to manage water in a more comprehensive and sustainable manner, but doing so requires integrating new perspectives, economic and investment tools, policy and regulatory frameworks, and social and environmental performance markers into decision processes that are often opaque, qualitative and poorly structured.


Climate variability and change is an exacerbating challenging factor for managing the food-energy- water nexus, and a key uncertain factor in planned investments. Revising decision-making processes challenges institutional capabilities and prerogatives.


In this seminar, we will present decision support tools that are available for institutions and decision makers when working with climate sensitive projects and investments;  explore examples and examine lessons to introduce more objective and stakeholder-driven decision processes; and illustrate how water management approaches can be transformed to promote long-term sustainability in the face of climate variability and change.

09:00   Welcome and Introduction
            Mr Marcus Wijnen, WB
09:05   Book Launch: Beyond Downscaling: A Bottom-Up Approach to Climate Adaptation for Water Resources Management
             Mr. Marcus Wijnen, WB
             Mr. John Matthews, AGWA
             Mr. Luis Garcia, WB
             Mr. Casey Brown, UMassachusetts, USA
             Mr. Patrick Ray, UMassachusetts
             Mr. Eugene Stakhiv, USACE
09:20   Climate Risk Assessment of Hydro-energy Generation in Cameroon
             Mr. Johan Grijsen, Consultant
09:40   Decision Tree: A Climate Risk Assessment for Water Infrastructure
             Mr. Casey Brown, UMassachusetts, USA
10:00   Decision Tree: A Decision Support Framework for Evaluation of Climate Risk to Water Resource Systems
             Mr. Patrick Ray, UMassachusetts, USA


10:20   Coffee Break with a Side Presentation of the AGWA eBook
John Matthews, AGWA


10:40    Hydro BID: A Decision Support Tool for Water Management and Infrastructure
             Mr. Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, IADB
11:00    Hydro-BID: Modeling the Impact of Climate Change on Irrigation Demand and Operations
             Ms. Fekuda Moreda, RTI
             Mr. Gene Brantly, RTI
11:20    Climate Change and Water Resources Adaptation: Decision Scaling and Integrated Eco-Engineering Resilience
             Mr. Leroy Poff, Colorado State University, USA
11:40    Panel Discussion
12:30   Close of Seminar


  • 1Poff and Stakhiv Thursday_0900Session_T5_Part1
  • 1Poff and Stakhiv Thursday_0900Session_T5_Part2
  • Brantly - Hydro-BID Case Study & Phase II WWW Sept 2014
  • Brown_Stockholm_DT_Sep2014
  • Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm Stockholm2014
  • Johan GrijsenPresentation Stockholm 2014
  • Matthews AGWA ebook launch
  • Patrick Ray Stockholm Decision Tree presentation 4 Sept 2014
  • Link to the ebook files
  • Speaker/Panelist Biographies

    Casey Brown is Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering Science from Harvard University and led the water team at the International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society at Columbia University. His research focuses on climate and water resources, and he has worked extensively on projects around the world in this regard. He has a number of awards to his credit, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, the National Science Foundation CAREER award and the Huber Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Dr. Brown’s work is funded by the National Science Foundation, NOAA, Department of Defense, World Bank and the US Army Corps of Engineers. He is Associate Editor of the ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, and chairs the Water Resources Planning under Climate Change Technical Committee of the ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute Systems Committee and the Water and Society Technical Committee of the AGU Hydrology Section. Patrick Ray is researcher in the Hydrosystems Research Group in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Patrick has more than 10 years of experience in water resources engineering research and consultation, with particular focus in hydro-economics and water systems planning under uncertainty. His academic work has been supported by numerous grants and awards, including a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and a Fulbright Fellowship. He has been the primary investigator on two studies of water systems optimization in the Middle East. In 2010 he served as economist for MWH on the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s $100M Zarqa Governorate Wastewater System Expansion and Rehabilitation Project in Jordan. Patrick's current research interests center on attempts at improving the robustness of water systems to change (esp. climate change), and explorations of the economics of water development alternatives (e.g., proposed development on the Brahmaputra River in China/India/Bangladesh). Johan Grijsen has been involved for over 40 years in river engineering, water resources and environmental management, hydropower, flood control and irrigation, hydrology and Climate Risk Assessment projects, and in the establishment of Water Information Systems (WIS) in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, and in his home country The Netherlands with Delft Hydraulics (now Deltares) and DHV Consultants. He managed complex projects, including projects with substantial institution building and training components, and participated as well in FAO, AsDB, AfDB and World Bank project preparation missions. He was resident Team Leader of complex projects in Bangladesh and India. He subsequently joined the World Bank as Sr. IWRM Specialist for West and Central Africa, where he supervised and prepared regional IWRM and GEF funded projects in the Lake Chad and Niger River Basins, Rwanda, Nigeria, Niger and Mali. Since 2006 he has worked as independent consultant for several World Bank-funded projects in the Africa Region and India, lately particularly on Climate Risk Assessments for WRD and hydropower schemes in the Niger Basin and in Cameroon. John H. Matthews is the Co-Chair for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), which is hosted by the World Bank and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and supported by the US Army Corps of Engineers, SIWI, and Conservation International. Trained as an aquatic ecologist, his work integrates climate change adaptation policy and science into practical implementation for sustainable natural resource management, infrastructure operations, and economic development. John has worked on five continents and in more than 20 countries.
  • This event was webcasted live - please visit for more viewing and sharing options.

Because poorer communities around the world are disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of climate variability and change, which affect water supply, sanitation, food and energy security, environment, health and livelihood, organizations such as The World Bank and others belonging to the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) strive to take it into account in all projects and investments. For some time prevailing practice projected precipitation and temperature using Global Climate Models (GCMs) under given scenarios developed by the IPCC. These were adjusted to specific geographical areas by procedures known as “downscaling” before being used as input to hydrologic models. For several reasons, dissatisfaction with the results increased among some practitioners, calling for more robust methods.

No standard method of universal acceptance has emerged. However, several alternatives have been explored. Many organizations (such as the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Conservation International, the University of Massachusetts and The World Bank) all members of AGWA, have summarized some of these alternatives in an eBook produced with their support and that of the Water Partnership Program (WPP) of the World Bank. The eBook “Beyond Downscaling – A Bottom up Approach to Climate Change Adaptation for Water Resources Management” has been uploaded to the AGWA website. It includes collaborations from 19 authors and can be downloaded for free as an iBook from the Apple Store. Rather than design for an uncertain situation selected a priori, the so-called “bottom-up” approach pioneered by several researchers, explores the sensitivity of a chosen metric of a project (safe water yield, levelized cost, total net benefit, etc.) to the effects of uncertainties caused by climate change.

Similar to a tree with many branches, a decision process to evaluate the sensitivity of a project to climate change uncertainties has many paths. Sometimes it requires just a preliminary screening. Sometimes it is required to focus on major uncertainties affecting a project that are not climate-related. Sometimes it is sufficient to apply methodologies already familiar to water resources practitioners and hydrologists. Sometimes it will be necessary to perform detailed “climate sensitivity” tests. And sometimes it would be unavoidable to use highly sophisticated methodologies for design under uncertainty and even abandon or make substantial changes to the project concept. This suggests a stepwise approach not to waste time, effort, and money. That is what the “decision tree” is about, discussed by Johan Grijsen, Casey Brown and Patrick Ray during the portions of the seminar “Climate-Informed Decision Support Tools for Sustainable Water Management”. It is a guidance tool for leaders for applying the bottom-up approach. A publication will be made available soon by the Bank.

Diego Rodriguez, Senior Economist of The World Bank and Manager of the Water Partnership program,  states“initiatives such as our eBook and decision tree aim at providing decision makers with the tools to adapt to the realities of climate change, and incorporate these uncertainties in the design of water infrastructure and planning, which is critical if we are going to eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity”.

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