Water scarcity and droughts

Water resources are expected to decrease in Europe as a result of the increasing imbalance between water demand and water availability. Socio-economic factors such as population growth, increased consumption, and land use have a huge impact on water scarcity, with climate change exacerbating the problem. Many cities in southern and eastern Europe, as well as some in western Europe, are already experiencing water stress during the summer. Projections anticipate that the problem will escalate and will also extend northwards in future.
Multiple factors influence the exposure of water scarcity and droughts, the sensitivity to these and the response capacity (table). The following maps depict some of these factors, and provide some indication of the situation (in green). They need to be interpreted as a whole, together with the other factors still requiring local or qualitative information.

Factors that tend to increase the vulnerability to water scarcity and droughts…




Dry spells

High water consumption

Commitment to fight climate change - trust in city governance

Low soil moisture levels

High share of elderly population

Trust in other people

Water stress in the region - high water abstraction compared to limited resources

High share of low-income households - socioeconomic status


Low precipitation

High share of green urban areas

Socio-economic status - financial resource

Low water availability (surface and underground)

High share of lonely pensioner households

Awareness of business and citizens

Saltwater intrusion

High share of very young population

Well-functioning institutional structures and processes

Water pollution

Inefficient water supply infrastructure and management

Sufficient capacities in administration to act

Water intense industry, tourism, agriculture in the region


Availability of technical measures like reservoirs, water recycling, rain water harvesting, etc.

High degree of soil sealing in the region


Availability of organisational measures like water use restrictions