In developing countries, the supply of fresh water is extremely sensitive to climate variability. At the same time, population growth, changing lifestyles, and shifting land-use patterns have heightened demands on water systems. The combination of climatic uncertainty with increased demand makes it essential that water managers use the best climate information available. Advances in hydroclimatic science provide rich new opportunities for "climate-smart" water management. These advances -- including better data sets, more accurate models, and improved forecasts -- provide opportunities to facilitate policies and operations that can support urban planning, resolve multi-user conflicts, improve resiliency to droughts and floods, and contribute to the sustainable achievement of development goals. The IRI works with key research partners, stakeholders, and water resource managers to identify system vulnerabilities and find the right strategies for diverse users. In doing so, it takes advantage of the combined expertise of climate scientists, water resource engineers, and development-policy specialists.
The IRI works with water systems at various scales and focuses on the advantage that climate-informed decision-making holds for achieving integrated water resources management. This approach helps developing countries use scare water resources more efficiently. It also helps them to manage the risks associated with climate variability and change.