Speaking at two events on water security at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh today, UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova stressed the importance of cooperation between countries for successful climate change policies and actions, especially when it comes to addressing water security. Impacts of climate change and water-related disasters know no borders since 60% of global freshwater flow is in transboundary basins shared by 153 countries.
Through cooperation countries can exchange data and reduce uncertainties. They can identify better adaptation priorities, share costs and benefits, and use both finance and human resources more efficiently. Transboundary cooperation is crucial for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 13, and other goals on poverty reduction, food security, health, ecosystem protection and peace. Finally, transboundary cooperation fosters regional integration and stability, Ms. Algayerova noted.
Water and climate are inextricably linked. Disasters and climate change impacts are mostly felt through the water cycle, as seen in the past several months. It is therefore important that Egypt has put water high on the agenda of COP27, in negotiations and through initiatives such as Action for Water Adaptation and Resilience (AWARE).
“I strongly encourage countries to include water and transboundary cooperation, where appropriate, into their climate policies, such as National Adaptation Plans and Nationally Determined Contributions, and their implementation,” Ms. Algayerova said.
However, financing climate change adaptation remains a challenge for most transboundary basins across the world. Activities to strengthen the capacity of basin organizations to access finance, in particular climate finance, are implemented under the UN Water Convention in cooperation with international financial institutions and other partners. They include trainings and sessions focused on facilitating funding and preparing bankable project proposals - which have benefited the Lake Chad basin, the Drin basin and Africa more broadly - as well as guidance materials. For example, the publication Financing Climate Change Adaptation in Transboundary Basins was developed by the World Bank in cooperation with UNECE and other partners.
The UN Water Convention provides a unique global legal and intergovernmental framework for cooperation in climate change adaptation, including flood and drought management, in transboundary basins. In the past 20 years, the convention has supported countries and basins around the world by promoting the sharing of knowledge and experience, developing guidance and executing projects on-the-ground to develop and implement climate change adaptation strategies and plans. Since the global opening of the convention, more than 130 countries have participated in its activities. Six countries from Africa joined it, while 20 more are in the process of accession. Ms. Algayerova called upon all countries sharing transboundary waters to join the convention.
Water, climate and transboundary cooperation will be at the centre of the discussions at the 2023 UN Water Conference, co-hosted by the Netherlands and Tajikistan and held in New York in March 2023. Considering how important water is for climate change, the conference should result in concrete actions and commitments, including on transboundary water cooperation, Ms. Algayerova noted.