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Water and adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins, including flood and drought risk management

Impacts of climate change and variability on transboundary basins are evident in many regions in the world and increasing floods and droughts pose a challenge to water managers around the globe. Transboundary cooperation in adaptation is necessary to prevent maladaptation and increase the overall effectiveness of adaptation. The Water Convention and its Task Force on Water and Climate, led by the Netherlands and Switzerland, support countries in developing transboundary adaptation strategies though guidance, projects on the ground and exchange of experience.

Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change
Guidance on Water Supply and Sanitation in Extreme Weather Events

Guidance documents

The Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change, adopted by the Meeting of the Parties and published in 2009, provides step-by-step advice on how to adapt to climate change, with a special focus on transboundary basins.

The Guidance on Water Supply and Sanitation in Extreme Weather Events, prepared under the Protocol on Water and Health and published in 2011 illustrates effective ways to minimize impacts of extreme weather events on water and sanitation and related health risks.

In 2009, Parties added to foster implementation of the Guidance through a programme of pilot projects and a platform for exchanging experience with adaptation to climate change in the transboundary context.

In 2013-2015, a collection of lessons learned and good practices on climate change adaptation in transboundary basins will be developed as a complement to the Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change in cooperation with the International Network of Basins Organizations (INBO) as well as other partners. It will include a compilation, analysis and synthesis of existing knowledge, experience, lessons learned and good practices on climate change adaptation in transboundary basins. The collection of good practice also responds to one of the outcomes of the sixth World Water Forum on 2012 and wil be presented at the Seventh World Water Forum, to be held in 2015 in the Republic of Korea.

Pilot Projects on adaptation to climate change in transboundary basin

The programme of pilot projects has started in 2010 and aims to strengthen the capacity to adapt to climate change and to create positive examples demonstrating the benefits of transboundary cooperation in adaptation planning and implementation. They include joint impact and vulnerability assessment and the development of a basin-wide adaptation strategy. Representatives of the pilot projects meet annually to exchange experience between the pilot projects in the core group of pilot projects.

Pilot projects on the Chu-Talas, Dniester, Sava and Neman are directly implemented by the Water Convention in the framework of the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) and in cooperation with other organizations such as UNDP, OSCE, UNEP, and WMO

Other on-going activities with their own implementation and funding structure have been included in the programme of pilot projects to foster the exchange of experience between river basins. These include the activities in the Amur/ Argun/ Daursky Biosphere Reserve, Danube, Meuse (AMICE project ending in 2013) and Rhine

Based on the previous pilot projects, a Global Network of Basins Working on Climate Change has been created in 2013.  The creation of this Network is one of the outcomes of the Sixth World Water Forum and coordinated by UNECE and INBO. The network of basins includes the above mentioned projects and activities as well as additional basins from other regions of the world, namely Congo, Drin, Mekong, Niger, Senegal and the Northern Sahara aquifer system.

The latest progress report on activities of the pilot projects and other basins in the global network is available here.

Platform for sharing experience on adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins

The platform for sharing experience includes regular workshops and a web-based platform. The range of annual workshops on water and adaptation to Climate Change brings together water and climate experts from around thhe world to share experience and lessons learnt. During these workshops, different examples and approaches for adaptation to climate change are being discussed such as dealing with uncertainty, using and preserving ecosystems for adaptation, structural measures, reducing water use, integrated flood management, economic analysis for evaluating adaptation options etc.


© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013