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UNFCCC Publishes Technical Paper on Water and Climate Change

UNFCCC22 November 2011: The UNFCCC Secretariat has published a technical paper (FCCC/TP/2011/5) on water and climate change impacts and adaptation strategies. The 34th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA 34) requested that the Secretariat prepare a technical paper on water and climate change impacts and adaptation strategies under the Nairobi work programme (NWP) before SBSTA 35.

This technical paper attempts to synthesize previous work on freshwater resources and climate change impacts and adaptation strategies and to identify ways forward. The paper aims to raise the level of understanding among parties with regard to the links between climate change and freshwater resources, in a manner that would ultimately support informed decisions on practical adaptation action and measures on water resources. It especially explores links between climate change and hydrology, including impacts of climate change on: ecosystems and biodiversity, agriculture and food security, urbanization, land use and forestry, water supply and sanitation, health, infrastructure, and energy security which, in addition to climate, are strongly influenced by human interventions and actions. The paper also discusses the challenge of identifying and implementing appropriate adaptation responses by considering new approaches to adaptation planning and decision making.

The paper draws several conclusions including: findings from global assessments of climate and hydrological change are not directly usable by decision makers at regional, national and subnational levels; and new guidance on developing appropriate climate scenarios is needed. This might include efforts to develop scenarios downscaled to the level of managing water resources, but might also focus on methods to develop narrative climate scenarios based on perceptions of key climate vulnerabilities; and as climate change adaptation is a complex multi-faceted challenge, better analytical tools are needed to integrate the various dimensions of the problem. [Publication: Water and Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies]