Water evaporates from the climate change negotiating text
Participants in a special Water Day event on Tuesday called for recognition that water is the primary way that climate change will impact people, society and ecosystems, due to predicted changes in its quality and quantity.
The way that water is managed in and between countries will be a critical component for the success of any efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, according to the Stockholm International Water Institute. It will also be a vital consideration for many mitigation activities, including hydropower, agriculture and forestry projects.
However, negotiators meeting this week in Barcelona for the last round of UN climate talks before a big conference in Copenhagen next month are working on negotiating texts that have no reference to water and its management as tools for climate change adaptation.
“It is imperative that negotiators recognize the crucial importance of wetlands and freshwater as key factors in any climate adaptation plan,” said Denis Landenbergue, WWF International’s Manager of Wetlands Conservation. “To ignore the role of water is to cripple any climate change adaptation plans.”
Landenbergue said he encouraged negotiators to follow in the steps of their colleagues from the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Last year, they adopted a resolution promoting the conservation and proper management of wetlands and their natural resources – including water – as key requisites in national climate change mitigation and adaptation plans.
Previous negotiating texts discussed in Bonn and Barcelona contained clear references to proper land and water resource adaptation as key to stemming the effects of climate change. However, a streamlined text being discussed this week lacks any direct reference to water, even in sections about climate change impacts.
"Let me be very clear. There is no development without water,” said Pasquale Steduto, Chair, UN-Water and Service Chief, Food and Agriculture Organization. “There is no food security without water. There is most likely also no energy security without water. Water is the primary medium through which climate change influences the Earth's ecosystems and therefore people's livelihoods and well-being. If water is not further recognized in adaptation strategies and plans, we are making a big mistake."
"Even with the best mitigation strategies, water related effects of climate change will come,” said Anders Berntell, Executive Director, SIWI. “The challenge for many nations is how to adapt. Climate Change is in effect Water Change, since it will be through water that the changes will be realized first and foremost."
Many developing countries already are beginning to experience the devastating impacts of climate change on the water cycle.
If precautions are not taken, this may lead to an increase in conflicts related to water availability and distribution. Extreme weather events leading to drought and floods, as recently witnessed in Kenya and the Philippines, are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change, and are likely to become the norm' in coming decades.