Climate Change Adaptation is now given the same priority as Climate Change Mitigation
Note to Reader:
In September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This follows a universal approach and will apply to developing, emerging and developed countries alike. Transforming Our World is constructed around five themes and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Goal 6 pertains specifically to water: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. Goal 6 encompasses water-related ecosystems.
A German Perspective: What does the Paris climate agreement mean for water policy?
A Charter for People and the Planet
“The 2030 Transforming Our World agenda promises to be the most comprehensive and inclusive effort to positively change the world in all of human history. This may well be the most important thing we have ever done for ourselves and for our planet. It is nothing less than a charter for people and the planet for the 21st century,” states Bob Sandford, water champion and author.
He was the keynote speaker for the Feast AND Famine Workshop co-hosted by the Partnership for Water Sustainability and Irrigation Industry Association in December 2015.
“Of the nine Earth system boundaries which we dare not cross, water plays a significant role in seven. We have already crossed four,” stresses Bob Sandford. “The 2030 Transforming Our World agenda is as important as the Paris climate negotiations.”
“The sustainable development goals, especially that pertaining to water, address many of the numerous threats that are exacerbated by and in turn exacerbate climate change. This makes managing water critical to achieving many other sustainable development goals. In fact those other goals cannot be achieved without managing water better in the context of a change in climate.”
To Learn More:
To read about Bob Sandford’s presentation at the Feast AND Famine Workshop, click on VIDEO: “The sustainability challenge: Do nothing and fall behind; or run hard just to stay where you are,” Bob Sandford said to his Feast & Famine Workshop audience
Climate Change Adaptation is About Water
“The vital importance of water and water-related trade-offs with climate policy has largely been ignored to date. At first glance, water plays no role in the Paris agreement. Upon closer examination, however, we see that climate policy will have far-reaching implications for the availability of water and vice versa,” wrote Ines Dombrowsky, Steffen Bauer and Waltina Scheumann in The Current Column published by the German Development Institute last month.
“The Paris climate agreement has for the first time made the enhancement of adaptive capacities and the strengthening of climate change resilience a global goal. As a result, climate change adaptation is now given the same priority as climate change mitigation. However, climate and water policy often disregard the importance of water as the medium through which climate change exerts its clearest and most direct impact on our livelihoods and on numerous economic sectors.”
To Learn More:
To download a copy of the co-authored article, click on What Does the Paris climate agreement mean for water policy?
The Pressure on Water Resources
“Even less attention has been paid so far to the fact that mitigation measures can also involve high levels of water consumption. Almost all IPCC scenarios where there is a high likelihood of limiting global warning to 2°C rely heavily on carbon sinks. The massive amounts of water and land used mean the method is also in competition with food production processes. A warmer world would similarly increase pressure on water resources considerably.”
“If we are too late in taking seriously the trade-offs between the goals of climate change mitigation and those of water resource conservation, then climate policy may jeopardise the achievement of the water SDG. This would in turn put at risk other SDGs. In water policy terms, this means that sustainable water resource management as per SDG 6 will become increasingly important in future in light of both climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation,” conclude the co-authors.
A British Columbia Perspective
In his closing remarks at the conclusion of the Feast AND Famine Workshop, Eric Bonham (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC) provided this perspective:
“Future planners, engineers, politicians and citizens alike will be called upon to demonstrate both vision and pragmatism and be able to frame the issue of achieving water-resiliency in communities against the backdrop of an unpredictable water cycle. This in turn demands the honing of a further skill, that of working together towards consensus, commitment and collaboration.”