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Food for Thouhgt Freshwater and Oceans: Implications for the Climate Negotiations

 

Freshwater and Oceans:  Implications for the Climate Negotiations,

Felix Dodds, Executive Director,

Stakeholder Forum, June 2009I am here working with a number of organizations and initiatives focussing on water and climate to present some recommendations to the UNFCCC AWG LCA. The Global Public Policy Network on Water Management which is jointly managed by SIWI and SF is one of these new platforms that include governments, UN bodies and stakeholders.Water  is  a  fundamental  aspect  of  climate  and needs  to be  at  the centre  of  future  climate  agreements addressing adaptation. Water  is  the  primary  transmitter of  climate  change  impacts  on  society  and  the environment and also a key vehicle for adaptation. Water and its availability and quality will be the main pressures on societies and the environment under climate change (IPCC).  If not managed properly, climate impacts on water resources will have a significant impact on human development and the delivery of the Millennium Development Goals due to reduced water availability, lower food production, flooding and extreme weather events. To a large extent, therefore, climate adaptation is water adaptation.   However, the IPCC has concluded that to date water resources have not been adequately addressed in climate policy formulations.  This  is  evident  in  the  limited  reference  to  water  as  cross-sectoral  tool  for adaptation in the outcomes of the UNFCCC COP negotiating process.  We are calling for the negotiators to:          Recognise water as the fundamental medium for climate change adaptation in all sectors as well as the primary vehicle for building social, environmental and economic climate resilience        Take a cross-sectoral, holistic, system-wide and integrated approach to climate change adaptation, recognising integrated water and land resources management as central to a cross-sectoral approach for adaptation. Enhance and establish linkages between National Adaptation Programmes of Actions and national and sectoral planning processes.        Mainstream ecosystem-based adaptation through investment in natural infrastructure and adaptive governance to avoid .maladaptation., recognizing ecosystems as water users that build societies And resilience to climate change. Turning to the issue of freshwater, oceans and climate, there were discussions at the recent 4th Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands in Vietnam on linking freshwater to coasts and oceans.  This was in an effort to address the disconnect between the management of inland waters and coastal ecosystems, and in particular to identify (and recognize) the costs and implications of failure to link Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) to Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management (ICM) in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. While in many cases freshwater availability and quality may decline in coastal areas as a result of climate change impacts, freshwater demand will significantly increase with rapidly increasing coastal development:• “The potential benefits of increased annual runoff in some areas will be tempered by negative effects of increased precipitation, seasonal runoff shifts on water supply, water quality, and flood risk. In coastal areas, sea-level rise will increase water resource constraints due to saline-water intrusion into groundwater supplies.”  )  ·    Projected to affect 91% of all inhabited coasts by 2050• 15 of the 20 largest cities in the world are on the coast• Coastal population densities are projected to increase from 77 people/km2 to 115 people/km2 by 2025  The economic future of many countries is centered in the coastal zone, where sensitive coastal areas, such as deltas and estuaries, coral reefs, low-lying coastal wetlands, small islands, and sand/gravel coastlines and beaches, are more vulnerable to the combined impact of land-based pollution and climate change effects. One of the needs here is to build institutional capacity to be able to deal with these issues. In developing countries the UN should play a critical role . So it is clear that climate, freshwater and oceans are linked – so we are all here to focus on ensuring that those links are reflected in the text. So what might be possible between here and Copenhagen? Not much but a lot of work. The freshwater team who started our work in Poznan recognise that all that might be achievable is some text reflecting the role of water as a cross sectoral issue. We have developed a set of amendments for the text and are lobbying with them.The expectation here is that there may be just one read through of the document in the working groups this meeting but if you haven’t persuaded a government to take up your ideas by the end of these two weeks it will be increasingly difficult to in future meetings. Is it all worth it? Well we are all here so I think we do recognise the importance that getting those words in will have in a post agreement as a new work programme is developed and money under any adaptation fund is made available. So I leave you with the wonderful thought of long nights, much coffee and the chance to really change the landscape, and meet the challenges posed by climate change in a water scarce world.

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