Christian Siderius - Climate variability impacts water-energy-food infrastructure performance in Eastern Africa

Event type: 
19 May 2021
2.00pm - 3.00pm

Climate Change Research Centre, Seminar Room, Mathews Building 4th floor, UNSW, Sydney

Dr. Christian Siderius
Independent researcher and founder of Uncharted Waters Research
Climate Change Research Centre

The need to assess major infrastructure performance under a changing climate is widely recognised yet rarely practised, particularly in rapidly growing African economies. We examined past and future climate variability with the aim to understand the main source of climate risk to development plans across the water-energy-food sectors in south Eastern Africa, a relatively neglected region in terms of climate science, and targeted for extensive infrastructure development. Infrastructure performance shows high sensitivity to multi-year droughts that have occurred in the past which would challenge the viability of proposed infrastructure. Contingency plans for the worst-case extremes need to be developed. However, climate models have mixed ability to simulate the dominant drivers of variability over south Eastern Africa, underscoring the challenges in the use of model projections for local-regional scale future risk assessment. Our assessment exemplifies the need to take a comprehensive approach to climate risk by investors and donors. Infrastructure design should take into consideration the potential for changes in climate variability and recognize the limitations of planning based on short time series of observations or projections. A long view, which emphasises past and future changes in variability, set within a broader context of climate information interpretation and decision-making, is crucial for screening risk to infrastructure.

Brief Biography: Christian Siderius is an independent adaptation and water resources expert with more than 15 years of experience in conducting research and consultancy on climate and water risks around the world for various clients and organizations. Prior to coming to Australia and starting Uncharted Waters Research he was a research fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and a researcher at Wageningen Environmental Research. He is still a visiting fellow at the Water Resources Management group at Wageningen University. He is especially interested in the value of water, and the link between climate variability and risk, resilience and decision making. This translates into a focus on risk to infrastructure, people's land use and water allocation strategies to deal with climate variability and the impact this has on hydrology. He has been working mostly in South Asia, East Africa and northern Europe. For more information: