Guidance on water and climate change released, adopted by U.N. water convention parties

GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 23, 2009 -- The Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change was released and adopted by the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe's Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes...

GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 23, 2009 -- The Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change was released and adopted by the fifth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), which took place on 10-12 November in Geneva.

Water is the primary medium through which many climate change impacts occur; therefore, water management can limit or enhance adaptation of the numerous water-related sectors. Water knows no borders, neither does climate change. The fact that most of the world water resources are shared by two or more countries calls for regional and transboundary cooperation in the development of adaptation strategies. This is not only vital to ensure that unilaterally taken measures do not have unintended effects in neighboring countries but cooperation on adaptation also helps to reach better and more cost-effective solutions. However, transboundary cooperation in developing adaptation strategies is currently almost non-existent.

In this regard, the Guidance is a unique tool which explains step-by-step how to develop and implement an adaptation strategy, with a special focus on the transboundary context. Based on the concept of integrated water resources management, the Guidance provides advice to decision makers and water managers on how to assess impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality, how to perform risk assessment, including health risks, how to gauge vulnerability, and how to design and implement appropriate adaptation strategies. More than 80 different authors from many countries and disciplines contributed to this truly cooperative effort which contains nearly 40 case studies.

The Guidance will be launched and presented at a side event at the COP-15 in Copenhagen on 16 December at 11 a.m. in the Dutch Pavilion. This side event will focus on transboundary cooperation on adaptation to climate change and will feature several partly high-level speakers, for example from the Netherlands, Germany, UNECE and countries with economies in transition. If you are in Copenhagen we would like to invite you or your colleagues to this event.

But guidance alone is not enough, it needs to be implemented, used and applied. Therefore, the Parties to the Convention also decided to foster implementation of the Guidance through a program of pilot projects and the establishment of a platform for exchanging experience on adaptation in transboundary basins.

The full Guidance is available at: http://www.unece.org/env/documents/2009/Wat/mp_wat/ECE_MP.WAT_30_E.pdf
More information on the meeting is available at: http://www.unece.org/env/water/mop5.htm

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