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Assessment of transboundary freshwater vulnerability in Africa to climate change

Published by: UNEP


About

Managing the freshwater impacts of climate change in Africa is as much a political and development challenge as a technical climate change challenge. Even without climate change, many of Africa’s water resources are facing overuse, pollution, and degradation. Poor land-use practices are contributed to this process. Large numbers of people living in poverty in rural and informal urban areas are already vulnerable to water-related risks, whether floods, droughts, poor water quality, or increasing water scarcity. The status of water resources in Africa has been changing for many decades, whether through decreasing water quality, lowered groundwater, more or less rainfall, and changed timing of rainfall. Change is not new. Climate change, however, will profoundly accelerate the rate of change, affecting the ability of people and societies to respond in a timely manner. The rate of change is compounded by uncertainty of the impacts of climate change. While there are a number of models that attempt to predict the impacts of climate change, many of these are at a very coarse scale and do not predict localised impacts, which may differ from the generalised picture. At the same time, different models predict different climate change trends in the same areas, some, for example, predicting an increase in rainfall, while others predict a decrease in rainfall. Managing for high rates of change in a context of uncertainty is thus what is demanded of African governments.

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General Information

SDGs Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation Goal 13: Climate action
Published
2014
Thematic Area
Water and sanitation
Sustainability
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Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, an alarming figure that is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a consequence of climate change. Although 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved water sanitation since 1990, dwindling supplies of safe drinking water is a major problem impacting every continent.

In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress; ten of them are close to depleting their supply of renewable freshwater and must now rely on non-conventional sources. Increasing drought and desertification is already exacerbating these trends. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people are likely to be affected by recurring water shortages.

Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities and encourage hygiene at every level. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if we are to mitigate water scarcity. More international cooperation is also needed to encourage water efficiency and support treatment technologies in developing countries.  

Universal access to clean water and sanitation is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 6.

[format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, an alarming figure that is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a consequence of climate change. Although 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved water sanitation since 1990, dwindling supplies of safe drinking water is a major problem impacting every continent.

In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress; ten of them are close to depleting their supply of renewable freshwater and must now rely on non-conventional sources. Increasing drought and desertification is already exacerbating these trends. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people are likely to be affected by recurring water shortages.

Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities and encourage hygiene at every level. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if we are to mitigate water scarcity. More international cooperation is also needed to encourage water efficiency and support treatment technologies in developing countries.  

Universal access to clean water and sanitation is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 6.

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The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund brings together partners working on convergent aspects of water and sanitation: infrastructure, governance, health, education, environmental protection, and gender equality.

SDG Fund programmes apply a multisectoral approach to the problem of water and sanitation and include the following key dimensions:

  • Promotion of democratic and transparent water and sanitation governance systems
  • Improving access to water and sanitation services for the poor and marginalised
  • Ensuring healthy lives
  • Promoting integrated water governance and climate change adaptation.

For example,

  • The Colombian Massif region is home to the most important watershed in the country. It’s also one of the largest reserves of fresh water in equatorial areas worldwide. Despite being designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, deforestation coupled with conflict, the emergence of illicit crops, and deregulated agricultural borders of indigenous rural communities in the last decade have deteriorated the region. In order to better assess the current state of water resources in the area and stimulate a major regional agreement for water, the SDG Fund is working with administrations, community councils, community aqueduct consumer boards, indigenous rural representatives and the education sector. The aim is to develop protection plans for the watershed and surrounding forests, and provide technical cooperation towards integrated water management.
  • In the Philippines, the joint programme builds on the experiences and gains of previous programmes on water and sanitation and on climate change adaptation.  It aims to empower citizens, especially women and girls, and communities with access to sustainable safe water and sanitation services.
  • In Sri Lanka, the SDG Fund programme is carrying out surveys to gather data on the water and sanitation services availabile at all 10,000 schools. With this information, the Ministry of Education will ensure that all schools and students have access to clean water and sanitation, which is key to improve educational outcomes and nutrition status of students.
[format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund brings together partners working on convergent aspects of water and sanitation: infrastructure, governance, health, education, environmental protection, and gender equality.

SDG Fund programmes apply a multisectoral approach to the problem of water and sanitation and include the following key dimensions:

  • Promotion of democratic and transparent water and sanitation governance systems
  • Improving access to water and sanitation services for the poor and marginalised
  • Ensuring healthy lives
  • Promoting integrated water governance and climate change adaptation.

For example,

  • The Colombian Massif region is home to the most important watershed in the country. It’s also one of the largest reserves of fresh water in equatorial areas worldwide. Despite being designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, deforestation coupled with conflict, the emergence of illicit crops, and deregulated agricultural borders of indigenous rural communities in the last decade have deteriorated the region. In order to better assess the current state of water resources in the area and stimulate a major regional agreement for water, the SDG Fund is working with administrations, community councils, community aqueduct consumer boards, indigenous rural representatives and the education sector. The aim is to develop protection plans for the watershed and surrounding forests, and provide technical cooperation towards integrated water management.
  • In the Philippines, the joint programme builds on the experiences and gains of previous programmes on water and sanitation and on climate change adaptation.  It aims to empower citizens, especially women and girls, and communities with access to sustainable safe water and sanitation services.
  • In Sri Lanka, the SDG Fund programme is carrying out surveys to gather data on the water and sanitation services availabile at all 10,000 schools. With this information, the Ministry of Education will ensure that all schools and students have access to clean water and sanitation, which is key to improve educational outcomes and nutrition status of students.
) ) ) [field_targets] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] =>
  • By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  • By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
  • By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
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  • By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  • By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
  • By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
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Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

There is no country in the world that is not seeing first-hand the drastic effects of climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and are now more than 50 percent higher than their 1990 level. Further, global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system, which threatens irreversible consequences if we do not take action now.

The annual average losses from just earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones and flooding count in the hundreds of billions of dollars, requiring an investment of US$ 6 billion annually in disaster risk management alone. The goal aims to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries and help mitigate climate-related disasters.

Strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacity of more vulnerable regions, such as land locked countries and island states, must go hand in hand with efforts to raise awareness and integrate measures into national policies and strategies. It is still possible, with the political will and a wide array of technological measures, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This requires urgent collective action.

Addressing climate change is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 13.

[format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

There is no country in the world that is not seeing first-hand the drastic effects of climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and are now more than 50 percent higher than their 1990 level. Further, global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system, which threatens irreversible consequences if we do not take action now.

The annual average losses from just earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones and flooding count in the hundreds of billions of dollars, requiring an investment of US$ 6 billion annually in disaster risk management alone. The goal aims to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries and help mitigate climate-related disasters.

Strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacity of more vulnerable regions, such as land locked countries and island states, must go hand in hand with efforts to raise awareness and integrate measures into national policies and strategies. It is still possible, with the political will and a wide array of technological measures, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This requires urgent collective action.

Addressing climate change is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 13.

) ) ) [field_the_sdgf_work] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] => SDG Fund’s programmes contributing to SDG 13 [format] => [safe_value] => SDG Fund’s programmes contributing to SDG 13 ) ) ) [field_icon_with_text] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [fid] => 323 [uid] => 1 [filename] => E_SDG_Icons-13.jpg [uri] => public://E_SDG_Icons-13.jpg [filemime] => image/jpeg [filesize] => 72657 [status] => 1 [timestamp] => 1450139877 [type] => image [field_file_image_alt_text] => Array ( ) [field_file_image_title_text] => Array ( ) [rdf_mapping] => Array ( ) [metadata] => Array ( [height] => 466 [width] => 466 ) [alt] => [title] => [height] => 466 [width] => 466 ) ) ) [field_the_sdg_fund_response] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] =>

The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund joint programmes take into account climate change adaptation considerations along the project cycle. As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens.

The following criteria are essential elements observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

For example,

  • In Cuba, the SDG Fund is strengthening resilience and improving access to water in tackling the impacts of recent droughts, noted as the worst in recent history, affecting more than one million people.
  • In Fiji, a SDG Fund programme is building the capacity of young farmers in organic agriculture for climate resilience.  Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people.
  • In Mozambique, the SDG Fund is providing training opportunities on green construction using traditional techniques and materials. The objective is to create residences that are less expensive while also preserving the environment.
[format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund joint programmes take into account climate change adaptation considerations along the project cycle. As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens.

The following criteria are essential elements observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

For example,

  • In Cuba, the SDG Fund is strengthening resilience and improving access to water in tackling the impacts of recent droughts, noted as the worst in recent history, affecting more than one million people.
  • In Fiji, a SDG Fund programme is building the capacity of young farmers in organic agriculture for climate resilience.  Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people.
  • In Mozambique, the SDG Fund is providing training opportunities on green construction using traditional techniques and materials. The objective is to create residences that are less expensive while also preserving the environment.
) ) ) [field_targets] => Array ( [und] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [value] =>
  • Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible
  • Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities

* Acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change.

[format] => full_html [safe_value] =>
  • Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible
  • Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities

* Acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change.

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Access to water is essential to the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. Safe drinking water is a scarce and limited resource. Better water resource management and governance can ensure there will be enough water to meet increasing demand. We need to establish good management practices, responsible regulation, and proper pricing.

Improving access – as well as quality – is becoming more urgent as the world faces increasing water scarcity. People living in poverty are likely to be most at risk. Good governance of water and sanitation services ensures that the voices of the poor and vulnerable are heard.

Globally, 768 million people drink unsafe water. 1.8 billion people’s drinking water source is contaminated. 2.5 billion people have no access to hygienic sanitation facilities, and half of those have no sanitation facilities at all.

The Post-2015 consultation resulted in a call for action to ensure universal access to safe drinking water at home, and in schools, health centres and refugee camps. This is a global minimum standard that should be applied to everyone.

Despite progress towards the water MDG, much more needs to be done. Improving water and sanitation would have a large impact on advancing overall human development.

The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund, following the experience of its precursor the MDG Fund, brings together partners working on convergent aspects of water and sanitation: infrastructure, governance, health, education, environmental protection, and gender equality.

SDG Fund programmes apply a multisectoral approach to the problem of water and sanitation and include the following key dimensions:

  1. Promotion of democratic and transparent water and sanitation governance systems
  2. Improving access to water and sanitation services for the poor and marginalised
  3. Ensuring healthy lives
  4. Promoting integrated water governance and climate change adaptation.

The joint programme in the Philippines builds on the experiences and gains of two previously MDG-F implemented ones, on water and sanitation and on climate change adaptation.  It aims to empower citizens, especially women and girls, and communities with access to sustainable safe water and sanitation services.

 


[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Access to water is essential to the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. Safe drinking water is a scarce and limited resource. Better water resource management and governance can ensure there will be enough water to meet increasing demand. We need to establish good management practices, responsible regulation, and proper pricing.

Improving access – as well as quality – is becoming more urgent as the world faces increasing water scarcity. People living in poverty are likely to be most at risk. Good governance of water and sanitation services ensures that the voices of the poor and vulnerable are heard.

Globally, 768 million people drink unsafe water. 1.8 billion people’s drinking water source is contaminated. 2.5 billion people have no access to hygienic sanitation facilities, and half of those have no sanitation facilities at all.

The Post-2015 consultation resulted in a call for action to ensure universal access to safe drinking water at home, and in schools, health centres and refugee camps. This is a global minimum standard that should be applied to everyone.

Despite progress towards the water MDG, much more needs to be done. Improving water and sanitation would have a large impact on advancing overall human development.

The SDG Fund response

The SDG Fund, following the experience of its precursor the MDG Fund, brings together partners working on convergent aspects of water and sanitation: infrastructure, governance, health, education, environmental protection, and gender equality.

SDG Fund programmes apply a multisectoral approach to the problem of water and sanitation and include the following key dimensions:

  1. Promotion of democratic and transparent water and sanitation governance systems
  2. Improving access to water and sanitation services for the poor and marginalised
  3. Ensuring healthy lives
  4. Promoting integrated water governance and climate change adaptation.

The joint programme in the Philippines builds on the experiences and gains of two previously MDG-F implemented ones, on water and sanitation and on climate change adaptation.  It aims to empower citizens, especially women and girls, and communities with access to sustainable safe water and sanitation services.

 


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Good governance of water resources is a crucial factor
in achieving sustainable development.

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Good governance of water resources is a crucial factor in achieving sustainable development.

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The concept of long term sustainability of development programmes is constantly evolving.

The SDG Fund definition involves:

  1. Inclusion and participation in programme initiatives within the vision of a Human Rights-based approach
  2. Economic use of resources in programme implementation
  3. Sustainability of programme achievements after termination of activities
  4. Mainstreaming environment and climate change in development programmes

For our programmes integrating sustainability requires an analysis of the governance architecture and the different stages of the programme cycle. At the national level, this could include the formulation of national policies, long term and multi-year development plans, sectoral budgetary allocation processes, and regulatory processes. At the level of projects on the ground, climate change adaptation considerations might need to be factored within specific elements of the project cycle.

As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens. The following criteria are essential elements to be observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under consideration could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

The following publications offer useful guidance for introducing environmental sustainability and climate change sensitivity into development programmes:

See also this list of references from the UNFCCC on how to mainstream climate change into development programming.

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The concept of long term sustainability of development programmes is constantly evolving.

The SDG Fund definition involves:

  1. Inclusion and participation in programme initiatives within the vision of a Human Rights-based approach
  2. Economic use of resources in programme implementation
  3. Sustainability of programme achievements after termination of activities
  4. Mainstreaming environment and climate change in development programmes

For our programmes integrating sustainability requires an analysis of the governance architecture and the different stages of the programme cycle. At the national level, this could include the formulation of national policies, long term and multi-year development plans, sectoral budgetary allocation processes, and regulatory processes. At the level of projects on the ground, climate change adaptation considerations might need to be factored within specific elements of the project cycle.

As an example, a key element to mainstreaming climate change is the use of a climate lens. The following criteria are essential elements to be observed:

  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project under consideration could be vulnerable to risks arising from climate variability and change
  • The extent to which climate change risks have already been taken into consideration
  • The extent to which the policy, plan, or project could inadvertently lead to increased vulnerability and maladaptation or miss important opportunities arising from climate change

The following publications offer useful guidance for introducing environmental sustainability and climate change sensitivity into development programmes:

See also this list of references from the UNFCCC on how to mainstream climate change into development programming.

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Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains

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Embedding sustainable principles in all our projects and ensuring long-term development gains

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Even without climate change, many of Africa’s water resources are facing overuse, pollution, and degradation. Poor land-use practices are contributed to this process. Large numbers of people living in poverty in rural and informal urban areas are already vulnerable to water-related risks, whether floods, droughts, poor water quality, or increasing water scarcity. The status of water resources in Africa has been changing for many decades, whether through decreasing water quality, lowered groundwater, more or less rainfall, and changed timing of rainfall. Change is not new. Climate change, however, will profoundly accelerate the rate of change, affecting the ability of people and societies to respond in a timely manner. The rate of change is compounded by uncertainty of the impacts of climate change. While there are a number of models that attempt to predict the impacts of climate change, many of these are at a very coarse scale and do not predict localised impacts, which may differ from the generalised picture. At the same time, different models predict different climate change trends in the same areas, some, for example, predicting an increase in rainfall, while others predict a decrease in rainfall. Managing for high rates of change in a context of uncertainty is thus what is demanded of African governments. [format] => [safe_value] => Managing the freshwater impacts of climate change in Africa is as much a political and development challenge as a technical climate change challenge. Even without climate change, many of Africa’s water resources are facing overuse, pollution, and degradation. Poor land-use practices are contributed to this process. Large numbers of people living in poverty in rural and informal urban areas are already vulnerable to water-related risks, whether floods, droughts, poor water quality, or increasing water scarcity. The status of water resources in Africa has been changing for many decades, whether through decreasing water quality, lowered groundwater, more or less rainfall, and changed timing of rainfall. Change is not new. Climate change, however, will profoundly accelerate the rate of change, affecting the ability of people and societies to respond in a timely manner. The rate of change is compounded by uncertainty of the impacts of climate change. While there are a number of models that attempt to predict the impacts of climate change, many of these are at a very coarse scale and do not predict localised impacts, which may differ from the generalised picture. At the same time, different models predict different climate change trends in the same areas, some, for example, predicting an increase in rainfall, while others predict a decrease in rainfall. 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