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[News Stream] Climate Change and water in the continuous UNFCCC-process / Gunilla Björklund

During the recently concluded UNFCCC COP17 meeting in Durban, water was, partly as a result of intensive and excellent work by the Water and Climate Coalition and several other groups, included as part of the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP). In November 2011, at the request of parties, the UNFCCC Secretariat produced a technical paper on water and climate change impacts and adaptation strategies, to support the integration of water into adaptation action under the NWP. This paper served as a background document to the deliberations. Climate and Water issues were dealt with at two different official sessions: on December 1st at the Joint SBSTA/SBI (the Subsidiary Body for Implementation) workshop to "consider the outcomes of the Nairobi work programme, to highlight the scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change most relevant to the SBI" (FCCC/SBSTA/2011/CRP.1), and at the SBSTA session December 3rd when the Agenda item3, the Nairobi work programme was deliberated (FCCC/SBSTA/2011/L.26/Add.1).

At the SBSTA/SBI workshop parties highlighted both the importance of focusing on "sectoral approaches" where water, health and food security were specifically mentioned, and also the need for guidance "to consider trade-offs between sectors in the light of scarce resources" where allocation of water was specifically mentioned. The SBSTA, responding to the proposals and contributions made by parties, including written contributions1, requested the secretariat to organize in cooperation with other relevant organizations, a technical workshop, before the thirty-seventh session of SBSTA on water and climate change impacts and adaptation strategies.

Among the most important Side events from a water and climate perspective was of course the Water, Climate and Development Day on December 3rd. The African Ministers Council on Water, AMCOW, in conjunction with the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank, AfDB, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, the Department of Water Affairs,  DWA South Africa, the Global Water Partnership, GWP, and the Water and Climate Coalition (WCC) organised the Water, Climate and Development Day as well as the High Level session that presented the key findings of the day to ministers and dignitaries to take into the Conference of the Parties’ High-Level segment.

The Water, Climate and Development Day that dealt with issues such as "Global Policy Solutions for Adaptation and Mitigation", "Infrastructure, Technical and Ecosystem Solutions", "Climate Change Information for Water Resources", and "Financial and Institutional Solutions", delivered during the day and at the High Level segment several key messages. Among these are the following action oriented messages of particular importance to the continuous intergovernmental UNFCCC-process:

  • "Water knowledge expertise needs to inform the Adaptation Committee to ensure linkages between Nairobi Work Programme and the Cancun Agreement, emphasising importance of water as a key medium for adaptation. Qualified water resource management knowledge should be represented amongst the members of the Adaptation Committee. In addition links should be established between the Adaptation Committee and water institutions and organisation.
  • We welcome the SBSTA draft decision to organise a technical workshop on water. This can be further strengthened by establishing a thematic focus under the Nairobi Work Programme, ensuring that climate interventions involving water resources are properly addressed.
  • Establish water as a priority under the Green Climate Fund with a sub thematic funding window for water resources management.
  • The Africa Green fund should include a dedicated thematic funding window for water resources and to be utilised for projects related to water management and climate change adaptation and mitigation."

1. Such as the "Opinion of Republic of Uzbekistan on the research and systematic observations" in which they mention "assessment of performance of measures of the rational water use in irrigated farming and correction of irrigated norms" as one of the priority-driven tasks for implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures.

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Gunilla Bjorklund
Dr Gunilla Björklund
GeWa Consulting