Where’s the Water in Climate Change?1 comment
Water is the most important way climate change will make its impacts felt, experts agree. But it is marginalised in the negotiations, argues a conglomerate of over 2,000 water organisations that want the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to establish a distinct water programme.
“Some one billion people have little access to clean water, another 2.5 bn don’t have access to sanitation. Climate change will make this situation worse,” said outgoing UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer this week in Bonn, where climate negotiations have been continuing.
For Africa alone these figures are 350 million and 500 million respectively said Bai-Mas Taal, Gambia’s former Minister of Water Affairs, now executive secretary of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW).
Climate change will affect weather patterns, rainfall cycles, river flow and soil moisture content, which in turn determine floods, droughts and agricultural yields, argues the Global Water Partnership (GWP), an umbrella for 2,176 water organisations in 153 countries.
“There is an international convention regulating water resource management, but there’s no single UN body dealing specifically with water issues, and water is marginalised in the climate negotiations,” says GWP executive secretary Dr. Ania Grobicki. “Water evaporated from the negotiating texts in Copenhagen” (where the last UN climate summit took place in December 2009).
“We are calling for a programme on water, climate and development to be established under the UNFCCC’s work on adaptation,” Grobicki announced at an 8 June press conference.
The aims of the programme would be to incorporate Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) thinking and practice into efforts to combat climate change.
Such a programme would also open up the water sector for adaptation funding, something that is badly needed, says the GWP. “In the past couple of decades investment in water infrastructure and water information systems has declined,” said Grobicki. But the current US $30 billion fast track funding on the table is not enough. “To achieve water security in Africa alone more than $16 billion is needed and that calculation is based on spending only $50 per person that currently doesn’t have access to clean water,” stressed Taal.
Adaptation measures would include building a large network of storage dams throughout Africa, Grobicki told CCMP. “Most agriculture is rain-fed. As climate variability increases and temperatures rise. water security drops radically, but dams ensure water is available throughout the year.”
“Water-saving technologies can assist farmers to use their scarce water resources efficiently,” said Grobicki . “Drip irrigation offers huge potential for saving water in rural areas, while remote sensing can be used to inform farmers about the moisture content of the soil so they know how much water they need to use to grow their crops.”