The rising awareness, though late, of the serious impacts of climate change on our planet has challenged our optimistic vision of continuing progress and the relevance of the current world economic model.
Resources will not meet demand
We have not only come to realize that the earth’s resources cannot, in the long run, meet the demand of a world population following the model of developed societies, but we have become, at the same time, conscious of the immense risks associated with the negative impacts of climate change on the sustainability of the world’s natural resources. So much of the attention has been on low-carbon emitting energy supplies and the technological race to find new energy sources is intense. With energy there are alternatives. With water there are none – and climate change is a disrupter to achieving water security.
Threat to development and water
Climate change is arguably the most severe long-term threat to development facing this and future generations. By altering the hydrological cycle, climate change will exacerbate the water management problems that countries already face. Climate change will have significant, often dramatic, consequences – higher sea levels, more variable rainfall, more frequent and intense floods and droughts, and rapid desertification. Risks related to climate change impede agricultural development. The consequences of climate change are a major challenge to the management of natural resources and barriers to the transition from poverty to prosperity.
An integrated approach is required
However, adaptation to climate change creates unprecedented opportunities for fundamental changes (economic, institutional, technological, social and political) that have been for a long time deferred. In this context, Integrated Water Resources Management - IWRM - offers a glimmer of hope. IWRM calls for integration of actions affecting drinking water and sanitation supply, agriculture and irrigation, hydropower and other energy production, and maintenance of environmental water flows to protect habitats and sustain groundwater supplies. The approach recognizes the interconnectedness of water resources issues; from promoting wise uses of water that preserve long-term sustainability to arranging for fair and economical sharing of scarce resources among competing users. IWRM leads toward the recognition that water policy is bound together with government policies on security, economic development, food security, public health and other essential governance missions.
Portfolio of Climate Resilience Programmes
Four GWP Climate Resilience Programmes are the vehicles to implement a thematic strategy on climate change adaptation:
- The Water, Climate and Development Programmes (WACDEP) in Africa and the Caribbean focus on putting in place investments for water security and climate resilience.
- Regional water and climate resilience programmes modeled on the WACDEP but developed with regional context and ownership.
- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO)-GWP Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) focusing on enhancing drought resilience (in collaboration with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, and others). This programme builds on the success of the WMO-GWP Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM), and will establish a HelpDesk similar to that available for Integrated Flood Management.
- The Deltas Climate Resilience Programmes for enhancing climate resilience of communities in delta regions.
- The Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) which is a joint initiative of WMO and GWP.