Ministers urge water focus for successful climate deal

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 21, 2009 -- Without water adaptation measures in the climate negotiations in December, it will be difficult to come to an agreement, said Ministers gathered in a high level panel in Stockholm...

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 21, 2009 -- Without water adaptation measures in the climate negotiations in December, it will be difficult to come to an agreement, said Ministers gathered in a high level panel in Stockholm during World Water Week in Stockholm events.

With only three months to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, experts and Ministers met to discuss the crucial role of water in adapting to climate change and the importance of strengthening the collaboration between the water and climate community.

"Without cross-sectoral cooperation, we won't be able to meet our goals for the future," said Tineke Huizinga, Deputy Minister for Transport and Water of the Netherlands, at the 5th World Water Forum in March. Reiterating her commitment, the Minister urged for a coordinated focus on water in the adaptation agenda.

In order for countries to become more 'climate proof', they need to further enhance scientific knowledge, cooperation, monitoring and early warning capacities. Governments should work to identify and establish new financing mechanisms for adaptation so that vulnerable communities will have the resource and support they need to protect themselves from the worst impacts.

Sweden, currently holding the EU Presidency, has dedicated 400 million euros over four years to targeted measures on adaptation. "It is in the developing countries that climate change is having the most obvious impact and is hitting hardest," said the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson. Addressing water adaptation will not only ensure sustainable development but also empower people. "Adaptation measures are best implemented by those who are affected," Carlsson continued.

"Water is the key mechanism through which climate impacts will be felt," said Ger Bergkamp, Director General of the World Water Council. These impacts, will compound other existing pressures on water resources such as population growth, land-use change and changes in consumption patterns. In developing countries, where inadequate water and sanitation already claims 5 million people per year, this will have a devastating effect when combined with insufficient financing and non-existing infrastructures. The Minister of Environment and Forest in Bangladesh, Hasan Mahumd, said that there needs to be a real focus on co-operation. "Managing water across state borders is vital. We need to better understand how we can share information and the resource more sustainably."

According to studies by the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other, the additional investment and financial flows needed to adapt to climate change are likely to amount tens of billions of dollars annually for the coming decades.

The World Water Council is an independent, international organization that promotes sustainable water management throughout the world. It has more than 350 member organizations including Governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses, professional networks and research institutions, based in over 80 countries. Every three years, the World Water Council organizes the World Water Forum. It is the world's premier event on water and gathers over 20 000 participants from around the world to generate concrete solutions to the world's water challenges. www.worldwatercouncil.org - www.watermediacenter.org

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