December 11, 2009
The following article has been sent to Blogactiv by Frederic de Hemptinne of the European Water Association.
Adaptation and, in particular, water are low priorities on the Copenhagen agenda. Considering the difficulties to make a firm agreement on mitigation, there is little chance it will get the attention it deserves. One could wonder whether putting it forward would have helped to foster the consensus building since every component of the water cycle will be deeply impacted and this will directly affect other sectors like agriculture and energy.
In this field, Europe has developed valuable adaptation capacity with the implementation of the Water Framework Directive that is based on a 6-year planning cycle. The 1st generation plans will enter into force by the end of this year. Specific guidance has been finalized in December 09 on how to integrate climate change adaptation into the plans and will pave the way for further improvements during the next planning cycle starting in 2015. This planning process will not solve every problem quickly but will generate a wealth of information which we will learn from.
Restoring the water ecosystems and thus their ability regenerate the resource is a demanding task. Water infrastructures that have been built over the years will continue to require large long-term planned investments in assets which the public is often not fully aware of as they are mostly underground or not prominently sited. This is not all. Organizational aspects are of prime importance since partnerships are needed to share the resource and to use the infrastructure properly.
Amazingly, the perception of the water issue is quite low. The situation varies according to the local context, which may make it more difficult to discuss at global level as it is for carbon emissions. Main reason could be that economic aspects of water uses poorly understood and reflected in the organization of markets. Do we need a “Stern” report for the water sector? This is certainly worth the debate.Stuart Langridge