Water is the primary medium through which climate change impacts will be felt by human populations and the environment. Adapting to climate change will require adapting to changes in water availability and distribution. Yet, water is barely mentioned in Non-Paper 53, the latest version of the adaptation text that is under negotiation at Copenhagen.
The failure to recognise the role of water management in adapting to climate change has numerous and multifaceted repercussions for people’s lives; It means that national water suppliers will not have access to sanitation systems that are resilient to flooding or unexpected weather events: It means that farmers will not have adequate information or resources to ensure that they can cope with diminishing rainfall: It means that new pressures will be put on already strained relations between neighbouring states who depend on shared water resources.
Already many developing countries lack the appropriate infrastructure and institutions to manage water effectively. As climate change stands to exacerbate existing pressures on water resources, development of institutions, technologies and capacity to manage water among competing users will be fundamental.
The failure to identify and call for such adaptation actions at COP15 risks undermining efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development commitments. Ensuring that water is included in adaptation strategies is the difference between being prepared for climate change and not.
A report launched for Copenhagen by the Global Public Policy Network on Water Management (GPPN) makes the case for why negotiators should take water seriously – ‘Water World – why the global climate challenge is a global water challenge’ looks at water as a cross-cutting issue for livelihoods, land, ecosystems, trans-boundary relations, energy and gender.
Please join the Global Public Policy Network on water management to discuss some of the key messages from this report further, and outline concrete recommendations for a strong outcome from Copenhagen. The press briefing will address the following questions:
• Why water is critical to adaptation strategies?
• What is the status of water in the current UNFCCC text on adaptation?
• What does it matter to people’s lives if water management is not highlighted as a priority in any outcome from COP15?