Water and Climate
Water and Climate
While climate negotiators keep meeting and working hard to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate against climate change, the rest of the world is learning to adapt to climate change impacts on the ground. Foremost among those impacts are escalating extremes in fresh water: too much or too little, too suddenly.
Those extremes will be the order of the day, as new patterns of rainfall and changes in the availability of fresh water disrupt supplies across the planet. Although these patterns are complex and hard to predict, some have already been observed and are expected to become more apparent in coming decades.
In recognition of this challenge, the World Water Council (WWC), in partnership with a group of international organizations (UNESCO-Cooperative Programme on Water and Climate, International Water Association, IUCN) decided to initiate a political process to further raise awareness and increase political commitments to address adaptation of water management to climate change.
With funding from the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water, the ambition is to set an authoritative water adaptation agenda that could support the global negotiations and decisions on climate change.
The UNFCCC Roadmap adopted at the Bali COP13 meeting set a clear agenda for the international community to negotiate and reach a consensus at COP15 in Copenhagen (December 2009) on a Long-term Climate Agreement for the post-2012 period. The Roadmap gives equal attention to Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and offers the opportunity of a global debate on what the world’s sectoral and geographical priorities should be in terms of adaptation responses, including financing.
As highlighted in the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report, there is now growing evidence that many of the most severe climate change impacts the world is facing are related to water. Success of international and national adaptation policies will therefore depend to a large extent on the way we manage our water resources and services and on how good we will be in building the resilience of the water sector in the face of climate change and variability.
If energy should be the priority for global mitigation efforts, water should then become the focus for adaptation. Key policy makers should be convinced on making water adaptation a priority through an evidence-based and politically driven approach.
From the 5th World Water Forum to the UNFCCC COP-15
The 5th World Water Forum held in March 2009, formed a key stepping stone in this process and its vision on water and climate provides an instrumental contribution to the UNFCCC negotiations and COP15 preparations.
To facilitate a deeper understanding of the issues, the World Water Council and its partners produced a synthesis report, Don't stick your head in the sand, supported by 16 in-depth studies on adaptation in hotspot areas. Download the papers in the right hand column.
Through a series of special events, interaction with high-level officials and a high-level panel of Ministers and CEOs from international organisations, the World Water Council has worked to gain further political momentum on the water adaptation issue. Aiming to bridge the gap between the two perspectives of water management and climate adaptation, the Council involved members and partners in placing a particular focus on government preparations for the UNFCCC COP-15 in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Ministers and high-level experts met on several occasions—each time reiterating their commitment and need to ensure water adaptation issues received due attention within the climate negotiations.
Photo Credit: Taco Anema/IUCN, Angela7Dreams, World Water Council