Water experts from around the world have called for water issues to be included in the international climate talks to take place in Copenhagen in December
Negotiators working towards a global climate agreement at COP15 are told that “water is a key medium through which climate change impacts will be felt” and that “a strong and fair agreement on future global commitments on climate change measures—both mitigation and adaptation—is crucial in order to secure future water resources availability”.
IUCN strongly endorsed the message which was greeted with a unanimous show of hands by delegates at the closing of World Water Week in Stockholm (16-22 August 2009). The statement identifies integrating land, water and forest management as the key to successful climate change adaptation, and that ecosystem protection and sustainability is fundamental to adaptation and human development.
“Healthy ecosystems provide vital services that build social and economic resilience needed to cope with climate change,” said Mark Smith, Head of IUCN’s Water Programme. “Well-managed floodplains reduce the vulnerability of cities downstream, intact mangroves buffer coasts against storms, and healthy forests and wetlands reduce disaster risks.”
The statement urges the global water and climate communities to look beyond COP-15 and work through dialogue to strengthen global mechanisms that can enhance collective action on water and adaptation. These should include, but not be limited to, better sharing of knowledge and technology in support of adaptation measures in developing countries, active support for capacity building and access to improved levels of financing.
“People and the economy are more vulnerable to impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts, storms and sea-level rise where watersheds and coasts are degraded,” said Ganesh Pangare, IUCN’s Water Coordinator for Asia. “The environment provides critical natural infrastructure for climate change adaptation. Strategies for investment to reduce vulnerability will need to include maintenance and restoration of watersheds, wetlands, rivers and coasts.”
Finally, the water community expresses its commitment to strengthening institutional cooperation at all levels between the climate, water and wider development communities under appropriate mechanisms and institutional arrangements in order to work more collectively to address the immense development challenges ahead.
“Together with good knowledge, financial resources and political will are needed to make adequate changes. As our cities grow we take more resources from nature; water, wood, nutrients, etc. Protecting ecosystems requires close collaboration amongst scientists, governments, communities and the business world to ensure society benefits from water and nature”, said James Dalton, IUCN Water Management Advisor.