Water as an economic resource and the impacts of climate change on the hydrosphere, regional economies and Scotland

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There is increasing evidence that the global climate is changing and that this will have implications for the future of water resources. The impacts of climate change will be transmitted primarily via the global hydrosphere, whereby changes in rainfall patterns and the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather conditions (e.g., flood and drought) will result in significant challenges, including for the way we access, manage and use freshwater resources. In addition, water demand will continue to rise to support a growing global population and its resultant increases in food and energy needs. There are likely to be variations across the globe in climate change impacts and these will further exacerbate existing spatial disparities in water availability. Water is a critical component for all aspects of life, and is particularly significant in many economic activities (e.g. agriculture, energy etc.). Changes in water availability and hydrological extremes will impact at regional and global scales on economic activity, supply chains, key industries and migration. While all regions of the world will be impacted by climate-induced water stress, regions with robust water policies and water management strategies, or at the leading edge of water-technologies may see opportunities. Here, we discuss the projected impacts of climate change on water resources, and the challenges and opportunities this poses for economic activities in Scotland, including Scotland’s readiness to adapt to changes in water availability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-74
Number of pages22
JournalFraser of Allander Economic Commentary
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2018


  • Fraser of Allander
  • climate change
  • water resources
  • economic growth
  • water policy
  • Scottish economy


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