Conclusions and Outlook

This chapter discussed examples of the calculation of a suite of scientifically based drought indicators and their use in online information systems (i.e., map servers and analysis tools), which provide accurate and up-to-date information on the occurrence and evolution of droughts in Europe and globally to decision makers at different levels. These tools proved useful for raising the awareness of the drought problem and for steering proactive as well as emergency measures in the case of emerging droughts. They are used in an operational context by decision makers throughout the EU and the European Commission. The general public has shown considerable interest as well.

The key challenge in reducing drought risk is to move from the prevailing reactive approach, fighting the highly diverse drought impacts, to a proactive society that is resilient and adapted to the risk of drought (i.e., the adoption and implementation of proactive risk management) (see Chapters 1 through 4). This requires practitioners, policymakers, and scientists to use a consistent set of drought definitions and characteristics, as well as the availability of adequate monitoring and early warning systems that provide information not only on the natural hazard but also on the risk or likelihood of impacts in different economic and public sectors (e.g., public water supply, food security, energy production, transport, and health) and the environment (ecosystems). Such targeted information can be used for the implementation of drought management plans and in the coordination of the deployment of humanitarian aid and emergency responses by civil protection mechanisms. In addition, current, but also future, societal exposure, and context-specific vulnerability should be identified to eventually assess the evolving drought risk. Knowing all these aspects, drought risk can be successfully managed.

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