World Water Week Statement Builds Bridge to Climate Talks

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Environment News Service (ENS)

World Water Week Statement Builds Bridge to Climate Talks

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Unanimous show of hands by World Water Week participants supports The Stockholm Statement. (Photo courtesy SIWI)

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Water must be an
integral part of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen, World Water
Week participants today said with a unanimous show of hands in support
of The Stockholm Statement.

The final outcome of a week of talks by some 2,000 water
experts from the public, private, scientific and NGO sectors, the
statement urges negotiators working towards a global climate change
deal in Copenhagen in December to reach a "strong and fair agreement."

Anders Berntell, executive director of the Stockholm International
Water Institute, convener of the annual World Water Week, said, "Water
is a fundamental element in economies, communities, and public health.
We know that it is the medium through which climate change manifests
its most serious effects. To be effective, climate negotiations must
factor in the impact and importance of water for the world and, indeed,
human well-being."

"Climate change is happening and adding complexity to existing
global challenges," the Stockholm Statement declares. "A strong and
fair agreement on future global commitments on climate change measures
- both mitigation and adaptation - is crucial in order to secure future
water resource availability."

At the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen,
world governments are expected to finalize a deal to limit global
warming by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The Copenhagen agreement
will kick in when the current Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of
2012.

"Water is a key medium through which climate change impacts
will be felt," says the Stockholm Statement. "Managing the resource
effectively, including through well-conceived IWRM [Integrated Water
Resources Management] approaches and at a transboundary level, is
central to successful adaptation planning and implementation, and to
building the resilience of communities, countries and regions."

Ger Bergkamp, director general, World Water Council, said,
"Water is key to development and the first medium through which climate
change will be felt. Therefore, the global agreement that will follow
the Kyoto Protocol must have clear targets and strategies for
prioritising water in the adaptation to climate change."

The statement highlights adaptation to the impacts that a
warming climate is already having on communities and ecosystems,
saying, "Adaptation is a prerequisite for sustainable development and
poverty reduction," and adaptation measures should be integrated into
broader development goals.

"Integration of water with land and forest management is key to
effective adaptation," and "Ecosystem protection and sustainability is
fundamental to adaptation and human development," the statement
declares.

The statement calls for vulnerability assessments
and risk management practices in these words, "Knowing where and how
the impacts of climate change are most likely to affect populations and
ecosystems through the water cycle will help in the identification of
areas for early intervention or hot spots; these include arid regions,
areas highly dependent on groundwater, small island developing states,
low-lying deltas and fragile mountainous areas."

Finally, the statement calls for more sharing of information as well as "new and additional funds."

"It is imperative that additional funding is allocated in
support of developing adaptive strategies for vulnerable groups and
ecosystems," the statement declares. "There is a need for an initial
mobilization of finance to assist vulnerable, low income countries
already affected by climate change, followed by the establishment of a
well-resourced mechanism for funding adaptation as part of ongoing
climate negotiations."

The global conservation organization WWF, which played a key
role in the discussions leading to the Stockholm Statement, strongly
endorsed the message.

Presenting the results of the discussions, Dr. John Matthew,
WWF head of freshwater adaptation, said, "This Stockholm Statement is
important in linking the need for effective mitigation measures through
which we can minimize the extent of climate change and core adaptation
priorities that can minimize the impacts of climate."

"Decisions about water infrastructure and management that we
will live with for decades are being made now, all too often under
policies and by institutions that were built on an assumption of a
stable climate and have yet to adapt themselves," Dr. Matthews said.

The Stockholm Statement urges the global water and climate
communities to look beyond the Copenhagen negotiations, known as
Conference of the Parties 15, more commonly known as COP-15.

After the Copenhagen agreement is finalized, governments should
work through dialogue to strengthen global mechanisms that can enhance
collective action on water and adaptation.

Finally, the water community expressed its "commitment to
strengthening institutional cooperation at all levels between the
climate, water and wider development communities under appropriate
mechanisms and institutional arrangements in order to work more
collectively to address the immense development challenges ahead."

Henk van Schaik, coordinator for the Cooperative Programme on
Water and Climate, said, "Adaptation to climate change in the water
sector is crucial for sustainable development. Both climate and water
experts should join forces building a framework for improved support to
societal needs - beyond the COP-15 in Copenhagen."

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