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UN-Water views on Climate Change and Water

23.01.2011 - Tim Kasten, Vice-Chair, represented UN-Water at the Dialogue for Water and Climate Change hosted during the UNFCCC COP16 in Cancun, Mexico in December 2011

"Water touches practically all aspects of our lives. Water is the life blood of our planet -- providing the life line to people, communities, biodiversity and in fact our economy as a whole and climate change threatens those very same things and to a large extent through impacts on water.

The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report clearly indicated the climate change impacts on water. The Report lists 32 examples of major projected impacts of climate change. Of these: 25 include primary links to hydrological changes; of the other seven, water is implicated in four. The IPCC technical report (2008) underpinning the 4th assessment report concluded unambiguously, inter alia, that: "the relationship between climate change and freshwater resources is of primary concern and interest". So far, "water resource issues have not been adequately addressed in climate change analyses and climate policy formulations"; and, according to many experts, "water and its availability and quality will be the main pressures, and issues, on societies and the environment under climate change". It is for this reason that water colleagues in the UN System, represented through UN-Water, have chosen climate change as a key Thematic Priority Area for UN-Water to address through its more than 50 member agencies and partner organizations. It is also for this reason that we are very pleased that CONAGUA took the lead on this important issue here in Cancun to organize the Dialogue for Water and Climate Change".


UN-Water Day at COP 16 in Cancun UN-Water emphasises that experiences, successful measures taken and best practices need to be shared between different sectors and regions on common challenges related to climate change. Under conditions of uncertainty and risk the capacity to adapt and manage water needs to strengthen.
UN-Water convened various sessions during the Dialogs for Water and Climate Change held during COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico;
  • Panel on droughts
  • Panel on water, food and energy
  • Panel on bridging IWRM and NAPAs
  • The economics of adaptation to climate change

UN-Water Chair: "Climate Change is all about Water"
"Many people may consider expanding deserts as the main manifestation of a warming planet, and that's likely to occur. However, it is just one consequence of predicted shifts in the global water cycle -- changes that will affect the quality, timing and volume of precipitation and water availability everywhere.

Climate change will affect all societies and ecosystems most profoundly through the medium of water – the arrival of too much in some places, too little in others and at unexpected times. Sadly, most communities in developing countries are ill-prepared to adjust to the looming new reality. The need is growing by the day for disadvantaged countries to work on ways to cope with climate change impacts".