EGU23-4659, updated on 30 May 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Beyond agriculture? A review of cross-sectoral drought risk and impacts research in Europe over the past two decades

Davide Cotti1, Anne-Sophie Sabino Siemons1, Gustavo Naumann2, Marthe Wens3, Hans de Moel3, Veit Blauhut4, Kerstin Stahl4, Lauro Rossi2, Willem Maetens5, Andrea Toreti5, and Michael Hagenlocher1
Davide Cotti et al.
  • 1United Nations University - Institute for Environment and Human Security, Bonn, Germany
  • 2CIMA Research Foundation, Savona, Italy
  • 3Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 4University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  • 5European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy

The impacts of drought events can be diverse, far-reaching and encompass multiple sectors and systems. This became particularly evident in recent droughts in Europe (e.g. 2018 and 2022), when, together with extensive damages to agriculture across the whole continent, severe impacts on public water supply, energy production and riverine transportation were also registered. However, while the scientific community has called for the study of these events in their multi-sectoral complexity, research on drought risk and impacts still tends to be conducted in sectoral and disciplinary silos, with different conceptualizations, terminology and methodologies evolving in relative isolation. In order to assess the state of multi-sectoral drought risk research in the European Union, we have completed a systematic literature review (n=168) aimed at understanding how different sectors and systems are represented in drought impacts and risk assessment research in the 27 countries of the European Union (EU27). The analysis focused on peer-reviewed publications and conference proceedings from 2000 to 2022, sourced through the Scopus database, and returned a research landscape where agricultural applications are predominant across the period considered, but in which the representation of other sectors and systems (e.g. energy, ecosystems) is steadily increasing throughout the years. However, only a minority of the studies tackle more than one sector or system (e.g. agriculture and ecosystems), and in most cases the multi-sectoral perspective is not accompanied by a fully integrated assessment of risk in its hazard, exposure and vulnerability components. Another trend of interest is the progressive, albeit still limited, increase in the representation of different geographical clusters among the studies analysed: in particular, while Southern European countries (e.g. Spain, Italy, Portugal) lead in number of case studies, applications to Western European countries (e.g. Germany, France, Austria) have become more frequent. These results can be interpreted as a general improvement towards a more unified understanding and characterization of drought events, but also point at a still high compartmentalization across sectoral fields. Because of the complexity of droughts, this persisting separation may hinder progress towards a common conceptualization of drought events as systemic and multi-sectoral events with multiple direct, indirect and cascading impacts. In particular, a stronger focus on multi-sectoral risk analysis could provide actionable information to support the identification of solutions capable of tackling multiple issues, thus expanding the policy space into which drought risk management can operate.

How to cite: Cotti, D., Sabino Siemons, A.-S., Naumann, G., Wens, M., de Moel, H., Blauhut, V., Stahl, K., Rossi, L., Maetens, W., Toreti, A., and Hagenlocher, M.: Beyond agriculture? A review of cross-sectoral drought risk and impacts research in Europe over the past two decades, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-4659,, 2023.