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Interview Details

Interview with Carmen de Jong

  • Professor, University of Savoy
  • Dated: Tuesday, February 21st 2012
  • EWP: At the Mountain Centre of the University of Savoy, you are holding a position as Professor. On which research field do you focus at the Mountain Centre and what is your motivation?

    Carmen de Jong: I focus on sustainable mountain development in the Alps, Mediterranean, Middle East and East Africa with an interdisciplinary and applied focus on hydrology, water management, natural risks, tourism and agriculture under climate change. My motivation is to link research with practice in order to raise awareness and develop solutions on complex, multi-sectorial and rapidly evolving issues involving stakeholders, policy makers, environmental organizations and the media.


    EWP: In the past years, water scarcity and droughts have been occurring more intensively. In which way did Climate Change affect water?

    Carmen de Jong: Indeed, 2011 experienced some of the historically lowest river levels on record . Increasingly, hydrological consequences are occurring, such as decreased precipitation, drying springs, drastically low river- , groundwater and lake levels or excessive evaporation. Seasons appear to be shifting, with the consequence that summers are extending into spring and autumn.

    Mirroring these extremes, large alpine rivers such as the Rhône and Rhine demonstrated unusual discharge regimes during the last 10 years, indicating thorough declines in summer and winter discharges.

    All these changes impact not only the energy sector, reducing hydroelectric production, and cooling water for nuclear industry, but impacts river navigation, irrigation and seasonal mountain tourism as well. Adaptation to these shortcomings is indispensable but not necessarily most favourable. Thus, there is increasing need to adapt to rising climate irregularities in an informed approach.


    EWP: You mentioned that adaptation is absolutely necessary. Do you see any development on national or European level to climate change adaptation? In your opinion, which issues have to be stressed regarding EU policies?

    Carmen de Jong: Plans and strategies to climate change are envisaged in some countries and regions at national level, complementing spontaneous adaptation at the local level as well. Nevertheless Environmental Impact Assessments still lack consideration of climate change. There are few policies including adaptation to climate change which address droughts, water scarcity, energy or water issues at the European level. One example is the EU Climate Change White Paper, which is setting a legal framework regarding future Climate Change challenges and defining an EU Strategy for Climate Change. Another activity which embraces Climate Change as one of its three pillars is the EU Blueprint Communication, which will be published end of this year.

    We know that Europe’s water security is vulnerable. Consequently, it is crucial that policies are updated in order to promote and integrate the experience of affected and concerned stakeholders.

    EWP: Thank you for the interview.


    For more information on the Dialogue Platform on Climate Change Adaptation, Water and Energy, please click here.

    Information on the EU Blueprint Communication is available at the website of the European Commission.







  • Carmen de Jong
  • Professor, University of Savoy
  • Last year, the European Water Partnership set up the Dialogue Platform on Climate Change Adaptation, Water and Energy. This stakeholder consultation focuses on policy options and recommendations as well as on the linkage between energy and water sectors experiencing increasing water scarcity and resulting adaptation measures. An additional objective of the Dialogue Platform is to facilitate the communication and participation from the water and energy sectors to other consultations linked to climate change. In December 2011, the European Water Partnership organized a policy roundtable to identify key issues on climate change adaptation, which include the following points: First of all, the existence of inconsistencies between the policies regarding the water and energy sector has to be tackled. These policies lack proper integration and are too much pertaining in certain sectors. Secondly, the main focus of climate change policies lies on energy. Therefore, water is often awarded only a secondary priority regarding policies. Thirdly, policies are necessary which promote the assessment of costs of action and inaction to climate change in Europe. EWP had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Carmen de Jong, a member of the Steering Committee of the Dialogue Platform. Prof. Carmen de Jong is working at the University of Savoy since 2006 and was Scientific Director of the Mountain Institute from 2006 to 2009. She was initiator and coordinator of the alpine space project Alp-Water-Scarce (Water Management Strategies against Water Scarcity in the Alps) as well as working on the ClimAlpTour (Climate Change Impacts on Tourism in the Alpine Space).
"There is increasing need to adapt to rising climate irregularities in an informed approach."

- Carmen de Jong
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