Handbook on Water Management - page 8

WaterandClimateChangeAdaptation inTransboundaryBasins: LessonsLearnedandGoodPractices
Climate change impacts are both episodic, such as extreme weather events, and long-term and
permanent, for example, due to changes in flow regimes and absolute water balances. To address
uncertainties that exist about the direction, speed and intensity of climate change, water resources
policy andmanagement should includepractices that ensure thatwater usage is ecologically sensitive,
areconsistentwith sustainabledevelopment andare robust across awide rangeof climate futures.
Becauseof thecomplexityof climatechange impactson thewater cycleandhow these impacts canbe
expressed inonepart of abasinbut felt inother, far distant partsof the samebasin, effectiveadaptation
to climate change requires coordination, integration and coherence across political, sectoral, ecological
and institutional boundaries.
Authorities in some water basins— particularly the 14 members of the ECE/INBO global network of
basins working on climate change adaptation— have already started the planning and development
of activities related to adaptation to climate change. It is crucial to benefit from their experiences
by identifying and collecting the good practices from around the world and by sharing those good
practices and lessons learned— the aimof this publication. The keymessages that emerge from those
experiences include:
On the one hand, adaptationwithin a transboundary basin is a particular challenge, as it requires
strong cooperation between the riparian countries on a cross-cutting issue (i.e., climate change)
that demands attention at all levels and across all sectors and institutions and necessitates the
involvement ofmany stakeholderswith conflicting and competingneeds acrossmultiplephysical,
political and jurisdictional boundaries. On the other hand, transboundary cooperation can enable
more efficient and effective adaptation, bypooling availabledata,models, scenarios and resources
andenlarging theplanning space for locatingadaptationmeasures.
Proper institutional arrangementsand theapplicationof theprinciplesof integratedwater resources
management are essential elements for transboundary cooperation in climate change adaptation.
A basin organization can play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and should be given a
mandate toaddress it.
Aflexible legal framework, such as a transboundary agreement, can support thedevelopment and
implementationof adaptation strategies andmeasures.
Proper communication is important toallow transboundarycooperation, amongothers, asacritical
channel for fostering a common understanding of vulnerability, adaptation policy and action in a
transboundary setting.
A joint groupof experts from all riparian countries shouldbe set up for abasin-wide assessment of
problems, priorities and solutions and for developing joint scenarios, modelling and vulnerability
Uncertainty about future impacts, and how therefore to develop flexible policy and institutional
responses, means that there is a significant need to build capacity among diverse stakeholders.
Capacitydevelopment needs to result in a commonunderstanding among the stakeholders in the
basin of the concepts of vulnerability, opportunity, impacts and uncertainties related to climate
change. Capacities for developing an adaptation plan are essential, particularly for managing the
uncertainties in the development of scenarios and implementation of measures, for using the
appropriate tools and for integratingadaptation into thebasinmanagement plan.
Decisionmakers need tobe involved in the adaptationprocess from thebeginning, to ensure that
theprocess is connectedwithpolicymaking and to ensure the transfer of knowledge from science
todecisionmakers and thepolitical sphere.
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