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COP28: Blending IWRM and climate change adaptation to accelerate climate action

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UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai 

The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UNFCCC will convene in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 30 November to 12 December this year. At COP28, countries and stakeholders will come together to assess their progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, to identify the gaps, and to work together to agree on solutions’ pathways to 2030 and beyond.  

Climate change and water 

Climate change and water are inextricably linked, with rising temperatures disrupting the global water cycle and causing unpredictable rainfall patterns. As a result, efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals are being hampered by an increase in extreme weather and climate events, exposing millions of people to acute food insecurity and reducing water security. Today, about half the world’s population is affected by severe water scarcity for at least part of the year, reports the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Global temperatures and climate impacts and risks continue to rise, highlighting the urgent need to scale up and fast-track adaptation efforts to reduce vulnerability to water-related climate risks. 

Blending IWRM and climate change adaptation 

A UNEP report on “Blending Water Management and Climate Change Adaptation Approaches” finds that a key way to facilitate action to reduce climate change impacts on water is to merge the practices of integrated water resources management (IWRM) and climate change adaptation (CCA) to avoid the worst of the potential impacts on environmental, economic and social well-being. Linking IWRM and CCA accelerates progress in both areas and leads to more efficient use of limited financial resources. CCA can be facilitated by using established and proven IWRM frameworks to provide an effective and systemic way of reducing water-related climate risks. On the other hand, CCA processes such as National Adaptation Plans and Nationally Determined Contributions can and already do speed up IWRM implementation. The report also identifies and enhances synergies between IWRM and CCA, particularly through four cross-cutting dimensions: governance, tools and data, finance, and catalysing conditions. 

To demonstrate how IWRM-CCA cooperation has led to tangible benefits on the ground (or in the water) in a variety of contexts, this report is accompanied by five case studies from around the world. The case studies include stories from different regions of the world – 1) Vanuatu, 2) Lower Mekong River Basin (shared by Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam), 3) Uruguay 4) North Darfur (Sudan) and 5) The Amazon. They showcase the importance of aligning IWRM and CCA measures to build environmental, social and economic resilience to climate change impacts and ever-growing demand for water. 

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