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No. 9 (369) October 2022


On 17-18 October 2022, UNECE in cooperation with partners organized the Global Workshop on Water, Agriculture and Climate Change in a mixed format.

Welcoming remarks were delivered by Olga Algayerova, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of UNECE, Mikko Ollikainen, Head of the Adaptation Fund Board Secretariat, and Li Lifeng, Director of the Land and Water Division, FAO.

Mark Smith, General Director of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), gave a keynote address. He noted the impact of climate change on rainfed agriculture, the importance of improving performance of irrigation systems and transforming irrigation (new technologies, innovative financing chains, possible relocation of irrigation from high-risk areas, etc.).

Session 1 "Floods and Droughts Impact on Agriculture" was devoted to the review of the current trends in changing climate , its impact on the water cycle and the subsequent effects for agriculture.

Katrin Ehlert, Scientific Officer of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) spoke about “The Integrated Drought Management Program (IDMP)”. According to the WMO's latest estimates, the incidence of drought has increased by 29% over the past 20 years. The agricultural sector accounts for 82% of the damage caused by drought. At the same time, drought forecasting and warning systems are lacking or inadequate in 54% of WMO Members. There are also difficulties in determining the onset and end of drought due to the lack of clear definition of drought. The Integrated Drought Management Program coordinated by WMO calls for a shift from reactive approaches to proactive strategies for drought prevention and prediction. FAO has started work in Uzbekistan to support drought policy-making processes.

Gregor Gregoric, the Slovenian Environment Agency officer spoke on cooperation on drought management at the regional level using the example of the Drought Management Center for Southeastern Europe, which was established in Slovenia. The Center is engaged in information and analytical work, develops bulletins and online tools. In particular, the online tool for drought risk in the Danube basin, methodologies for assessing impacts and risks of droughts, and the Danube Drought Management Strategy were developed.

Shavkat Batyrov, Head of Department for International Relations and Transboundary Water Issues, Ministry of Water Management of Uzbekistan spoke on measures implemented in Uzbekistan for adaptation and resilience to climate change. The priority areas of action under the relevant national Concept and Strategy include transboundary water management, automation of structures in cooperation with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, and investment projects together with WB and ADB.

Aminu Magaji Bala from the Lake Chad Basin Commission made a presentation on “Climate change trends in the Lake Chad basin, its impacts on the water cycle and the subsequent consequences on agriculture”.

During Session 2 "Water management and agricultural production under climate change: towards resilient systems" adaptation measures and strategies for mitigation of climate change and related extreme weather events in agriculture, while maintaining water quality and quantity for the population, economic sectors and the environment, were presented.

Rosa Morales from the Institute of Peruvian Studies and a member of the Adaptation Committee of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change presented priorities, needs and innovations in adaptation technologies for water and agriculture. In particular, she focused on the approaches and methods used by indigenous peoples and other user-driven initiatives. In addition to the well-known concepts of software and hardware, she underlined the importance of orgware, implying the capacity building of institutions involved in adaptation.

Maher Salman from FAO spoke on improving water management and agrifood systems to adapt climate change on the example of the projects in Chad, Egypt and Lebanon.

Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) presented “Smart water management for enhancing resilience at multiple scales”. In particular, he discussed digitalization as a basis for improving water efficiency and productivity . The online resource using satellite data for drought monitoring at the national level (South Asia Drought Monitoring System, SADMS) was given as an example. Demand management rather than meeting demands are the dictate of the times. The use of aquifers for water accumulation can also be of use under local contexts.

Adam Kovacs, an expert of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, presented approaches towards sustainable agriculture in the Danube River Basin. In particular, a guidance document and a policy paper on sustainable agriculture in the Danube River Basin were prepared in 2021. They contain key principles, a toolbox for measures and the examples of best practices. The water balance modeling for the basin is under work now. The emphasis will be made on protecting small farmers and supporting voluntary adaptation measures.

Yarid Guevara from the Ministry of Environment of Panama spoke about climate change adaptation strategies and measures in the binational Sixaola River basin shared by two countries. Panama has 5 hydrological zones and 52 river basins. Water management is characterized by decentralization and involvement of all stakeholders. There is a need to make diagnostic assessment of the system.

Ben Haraseb from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Land Reforms of Namibia highlighted climate change adaptation measures in Namibia and on the trans-boundary level. The complexity of management comes from unpredictable weather and multiple climatic zones in the country.

Maximino Herrera from the Dominican Institute of Integrated Development made a presentation “Increasing climate resilience in the province of San Cristobal: the Dominican Republic Integrated Water Resources and Rural Development”.

At Session 3, the findings and lessons learned in the process of intersectoral cooperation at the regional or basin scale were addressed, and actions to integrate the nexus approach into national strategies and policies were discussed. In particular, Takayoshi Kato (OECD) presented the water-energy-land-use nexus approaches to strengthen resilience to climate change impacts. In particular, a new nexus project in Central Asia was presented. Lucia de Strasser (UNECE) spoke on the experience of the Water Convention in intersectoral cooperation at transboundary level.

The case studies were presented by Gorana Basevic from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina (findings from Drina nexus assessment: nexus approach in national and regional activities) and Walter Bamidele Olatunji from the Niger Basin Authority, who spoke on the Niger Basin climate resilience initiatives, including implementation of the 2016-2024 Niger Basin Resilience Investment Plan totaling $3.11 billion.

Representatives of the Green Climate Fund with the presentation entitled “The role of GCF in water security”, the World Bank, with “Financing climate adaptation and transboundary water management”, and the Adaptation Fund, with “Transboundary approaches to climate adaptation: lessons learned from Adaptation Fund portfolio” addressed the participants of Session 4 "Financing and implementation of water and agriculture adaptation projects at transboundary level".

Case studies on the financing issues were discussed on the example of the Volta river basin (intersectoral cooperation within the framework of the Volta flood and drought management project), the Drin/Drim river basin (climate-resilient transboundary flood risk management) and the Sahara and Sahel zone (Climate Centers to assist communities and other stakeholders in Africa). The Principal Executive on Climate Change, Development Bank of Latin America explored the added value of financing and transboundary adaptation initiatives. In particular, she noted the importance of better coordination and ecosystem approach in transboundary projects.

In conclusion, the following can be summarized: focus on the importance of preventive and resilience measures; better access to reliable data and monitoring of surface and groundwater quality and quantity, drought and floods, and socio-economic indicators; more active dissemination of knowledge and lessons learned; forest and wetland restoration is among key issues of ecosystem protection; it is important to introduce new technologies and innovative solutions and, at the same time, use traditional knowledge; capacity building should accompany technical solutions; greater emphasis on community level and decentralization; transboundary cooperation is more important than ever, especially at intersectoral level and in terms of financing; the need for awareness raising and political support; both strategic and tactical solutions are important; focus on demand management rather than on meeting demands; agriculture can free up water for other users.

The Thirteenth Meeting of the Task Force on Water and Climate under the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes was held on 19 October 2022.

The Task Force was informed about the recent activities on climate change adaptation in transboundary basins namely the outcomes of the last meeting of the Global network of basins working on climate change adaptation (25 April 2022), results of the pilot projects as well as financing climate change adaptation in transboundary basins. Representatives of the pilot projects and other basins of the Global Network of Basins working on climate change adaptation informed about their activities. In particular, representative of the bilateral Commission on the Sixaola River told about progress on the 2021-2025 Work Plan in terms of flooding and pollution risks, prevention and monitoring and made a focus on tourism development. Representative of the Okavango River Commission (Angola, Namibia and Botswana) presented the projects aimed at strengthening resilience, introducing alternative agricultural practices and improving water infrastructure. A. Sh. Dzhaloobayev told about activities of the Chu-Talas Commission (Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan) undertaken on climate change. The Joint Action Program (JAP) on the Chu-Talas was developed within the framework of a joint GEF project. The Program covers such issues as water quantity and quality, conservation of ecosystems, climate change, cooperation, and monitoring. As a follow-up to the Joint Action Program, individual national action plans were developed for each country.

Representative of the European Commission outlined the work on climate adaptation within the framework of the European Green Deal in the following four priorities:

  • Smarter adaptation (knowledge improvement and uncertainties control)
  • More systemic adaptation (all levels and sectors)
  • More operational
  • Greater international efforts

As part of the Common Implementation Strategy for the Water Framework Directive for 2022-2024, different expert groups are active. A group on water scarcity and droughts was recently established and is now working particularly on updating the Guidance on river basin management plans in a changing climate.

The task force also discussed how to raise attention to transboundary and regional cooperation in global climate change processes and the future work on climate change in transboundary basins under the Water Convention.