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UNECE workshop looks at how to jointly prepare for the increasing risk of floods and droughts induced by climate change

Published: 11 April 2011

Climate change and extreme weather events often involve too much or too little water. Like climate change, water knows no borders. Countries must adapt and work together when doing so. “Cooperating to jointly assess impacts of climate change, share results and make sure that measures in different riparian countries are mutually sustaining rather than conflicting sounds logical and thus should be the norm, but it is not,” says Ján Kubiš, UNECE Executive Secretary. “Although many countries are now starting to assess climate change impacts and to develop adaptation strategies for their own territory, still very little is done at the transboundary level. This brings the risk that countries take adaptation measures with unintended negative effects on their neighbours”.

Sharing experiences in this regards is the main aim of the second workshop on water and adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins which is organized in the framework of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (UNECE Water Convention). For two days, on 12 -13 April in Geneva, more than 150 participants from all over the world, including several participants from outside the UNECE region such as the water scarce North Africa and Middle East will discuss the specific challenges of adapting water management to climate change in transboundary basins: how to avoid negative impacts of adaptation strategies in neighbouring countries and how to maximize benefits of cooperation. Further topics for discussion include:

  • How does climate change affect our waters?
  • How to adapt to climate change impacts on agriculture, navigation and hydropower?
  • How to use ecosystems for adaptation?
  • What preliminary observations can be drawn from the pilot projects on adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins under the UNECE Water Convention?

In the opening session, Mr. Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz from Poland, coordinating lead author of the chapter on climate change and water in the fourth IPCC Assessment report will inform about the latest research regarding climate change impacts on water resources. Representatives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will present the adaptation strategy of the Southern African region, one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. The Mexican National Water Commission will present how Mexico and the United States of America work together to jointly tackle increasing drought problems on their transboundary waters. Other examples will also be showcased, including the cooperation on adaptation to climate change on the Amur/ Argun river, shared by China, Mongolia and the Russian Federation, a case study from Vietnam and many more.

The programme is available at: http://www.unece.org/env/water/meetings/transboundary_climate_adaptation_workshop.html

For more information please contact:

Francesca Bernardini
Email: Francesca.bernardini@unece.org
Tel: +41 (0) 22 9172463
Sonja Koeppel
Email :Sonja.koeppel@unece.org,
Tel: +41 (0)22 917 1218

Note to Editors

This workshop is part of a programme for exchanging experiences on 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 different transboundary basins, particularly in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The programme also aims to support implementation of the “Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change” 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 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 on adaptation strategies. It obliges Parties to prevent, control and reduce the 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.

Ref: ECE/ENV/11/P15

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