Handbook on Water Management - page 6

WaterandClimateChangeAdaptation inTransboundaryBasins: LessonsLearnedandGoodPractices
In many water basins around the world, the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and on
society arebecomingmore andmore visible. Building resiliencebecomes amajor issue as climate
change affects water quantity and quality, water temperature, water-related ecosystems and the
magnitude and occurrence of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. Through
its impacts on water resources, climate change is affecting many sectors, including agriculture,
energy, fisheries, tourism, health and biodiversity.
Both water and climate change know no borders. Transboundary cooperation in adaptation to
climatechange is thereforenecessary toenable the sharingof thecosts andbenefitsof adaptation
measures, ensure their optimal location in a river basin and prevent the possible negative effects
of unilateral adaptation measures. Transboundary cooperation on adaptation can also bring
additional benefits in terms of conflict prevention, socioeconomicdevelopment andhumanwell-
being, and can even motivate transboundary cooperation in other areas. But how can this be
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Convention on the Protection and
Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) provides an
important legal and institutional framework for transboundary water management and climate
change adaptation. Following the entry into force of an amendment to the Convention on 6
February 2013, the treaty is open to all Member States of the UnitedNations. Indeed, since 2011,
the climate change activities under the Convention have been one of the drivers of the global
interest in the Convention, attracting participants from all over theworld.
When the Task Force onWater and Climate under theWater Conventionwas created in 2006, the
level of awarenessof climatechange impactsonwater resourceswasmuch lower than today.When
the ECE Guidance onWater and Adaptation to Climate Changewas adopted in 2009, adaptation
efforts weremainly being undertaken at the national level. Since then, member States engaged
in a platform for the exchange of experience and a programme of pilot projects, resulting in the
creationof aglobal networkof basinsworkingon climate change adaptation in2013. Thenetwork
ismanaged by ECE together with the International Network of BasinOrganizations (INBO), which
has 188members from all over theworld.
The Guidance, the network and the pilot projects have together given a significant boost to
adaptationefforts andhavecontributed tomuch recent progress.Manycountrieshavedeveloped
national adaptation strategies and plans and some transboundary basins, especially some with
basin organizations, have started addressing climate change adaptation from the transboundary
perspective. Several major river basins, such as theDanube, Dniester, Mekong, Neman, and, most
recently, the Rhine, have developed adaptation strategies or are in the process of doing so. In
addition, the importanceofwater and transboundary cooperationhas been recognized in several
international policy frameworks such as the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability
and adaptation to climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change and the EuropeanUnion’s Strategy onAdaptation to Climate Change.
However, numerous challenges regarding climate change adaptation in transboundarybasins still
persist. Manybasinorganizations havenot yet begunor areonly just starting to address the issue,
there remainmany uncertainties about howbest to adapt watermanagement to climate change
and those basins that do have adaptation strategies need now to move towards implementing
them. In addition, transboundary aspects are rarely considered in national adaptation strategies.
Thepresent publication therefore collects a vast rangeof experiences todate, inorder to illustrate
the different steps in developing a basin-wide adaptation strategy with concrete examples and
thereby to distil some recommendations to take into account in similar efforts in the future. It
complements the Guidance by describing experiences in following many of the steps of the
adaptation process.
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