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Third UNECE workshop on water and adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins

The Third workshop on water and climate change in transboundary basins: Making adaptation work will bring together more than 140 participants from all over the world on 25 and 26 April 2012 in Geneva to discuss how to prevent conflict in transboundary basins over dwindling water resources by cooperating at the transboundary level in climate change adaptation.

Evidence of climate change impacts is overwhelming: 2011 was the 11th warmest year since records began in 1850, despite the cooling influence of the La Niña, which lead to numerous extreme weather events with high impacts all over the world  The expected impacts, such as increased frequency and intensity of floods and droughts, will heavily affect transboundary water resources and consequently the economic sectors depending on them, such as energy, agriculture, navigation, as well as human health and well being. Over 90 percent of the world’s population lives within countries that share transboundary basins. Water managers in such basins are faced with a double challenge: uncertainty regarding the impacts of climate change and uncertainty regarding the possible adaptation measures implemented by other riparian countries. Transboundary cooperation in adaptation is therefore crucial to prevent the negative impacts of unilateral adaptation measures and to maximize the benefits of cooperation. How to actually do this will be discussed at the workshop which will be opened by Mr Sven Alkalaj, UNECE Executive Secretary.

The workshop is organized in the framework of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) and represents an important step in its opening to the rest of the world, expected for late 2012 or 2013. Representatives from countries outside the UNECE region such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Congo, Colombia,  El Salvador, Egypt, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Tunisia, will share their experiences with participants from the Pan-European region, trying to find answers on questions such as:

How to select and implement adaptation measures in transboundary basins?

How to assess economic aspects of climate change impacts and adaptation measures as a basis for financing them?

How to reduce the (negative) impacts of climate change on water-related sectors such as agriculture, human health?

Among the many cases presented, Bangladesh, one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change worldwide will inform about the cooperation with India in addressing climate change impacts and related challenges. A representative from Myanmar will report on the expected climate change impacts in the country which include an increase in extreme events such as flash floods, droughts, cyclones and hurricanes and its impacts on the economy of Myanmar. In the Nile basin, with its 171 million inhabitants climate change impacts will further complicate cooperation between countries. A model that is being built to simulate adaptation strategies in the Nile basin will be presented. In the Rio Yorkin basin, shared between Panama and Costa Rica, climate change may result in flash floods and yield loss of up to 80% on cocoa plantations, the main source of income in this area, a community based solution to tackle these problems will be presented as well. In Europe, the Danube basin, with its 18 riparian countries will report on the development of an adaptation strategy for the entire basin and the Meuse will demonstrate how small ecosystem-based measures can make a difference and increase preparedness to extreme events.

For more information please visit: http://www.unece.org/env/water/transboundary_adaptation_workshop_2012.html

Or contact:

Francesca Bernardini: Francesca.bernardini@unece.org,  +41 22 9172463

Sonja Koeppel: Sonja.koeppel@unece.org, +41 22 917 1218

Note to Editors

The workshop is organized by in partnership with the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), the Global Water Partnership Mediterranean (GWP-MED), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Meteorological Organization and the European Commission.

This workshop is part of a platform for exchanging experiences with adaptation to climate change in transboundary waters. The programme also includes 8 pilot projects aimed at strengthening the capacity to adapt to climate change and at promoting dialogue and cooperation in this process in different transboundary basins, particularly in South-Eastern Europe, and in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. The programme also aims to support implementation of the ´Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change which was developed under the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) and published in 2009.

The Guidance is available online at: http://www.unece.org/env/documents/2009/Wat/mp_wat/ECE_MP.WAT_30_E.pdf

The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) has provided an important legal framework for transboundary water management and contributed to improving transboundary water management in the pan-European region, since its entry into force in 1996.

Although the Water Convention does not explicitly mention climate change, it is one of the most important legal frameworks in the UNECE region for cooperation on the transboundary aspects of climate change as well as adaptation strategies. It obliges Parties to prevent, control and reduce impacts on transboundary waters, including those related to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moreover, the Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that transboundary waters are used in a reasonable and equitable way, including in relation to decisions on adaptation measures in transboundary basins.