Ministers and senior officials from more than 20 countries joined government representatives, intergovernmental organisations and NGOs in Nairobi, to finalise the Nairobi Statement on Land and Water Management for Adaptation to Climate Change.
The meeting, chaired jointly by Ulla Pedersen Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation for Denmark, and Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, was the culmination of a series of regional dialogues on climate change adaptation. In previous meetings in Copenhagen, Hanoi and Bamako, participants had identified what will be needed for vulnerable nations and communities to adapt to climate change. Based on the results of these dialogues, a set of draft Guiding Principles for Adaptation to Climate Change were developed and presented to the Nairobi conference.
The Guiding Principles were finalised after general agreement that expected increases in drought, floods, storms, melting glaciers and sea-level rise mean that climate change impacts will be felt mostly through water. “As a result,” explained Torkil Jønch Clausen, advisor and managing director of DHI Water, “adaptation to climate change will have to focus on integrated water, land and coastal management.”
There are 5 Guiding Principles, covering sustainable development, resilience, governance, information, economics and financing.
Mark Smith, Head of the IUCN Water Programme, explained that the guidance recognises that adaptation is vital to safeguard development while coping with future uncertainty. “Adaptation must aim to build resilience. This means making the countries and communities most vulnerable to climate change able to withstand futures with unforeseeable climate shocks.”
There are practical dimensions to resilience that link the Guiding Principles. “Understanding what resilience means in practice will be vital to using the Principles to guide concrete action,” said Smith. “Building resilience means ensuring diversity in nature and the economy and that ecosystem services are robust, because river basins are in good condition. It means building self organisation, with good water governance, and promoting learning, through better climate information and training.”
As the conference closed, Minister Ulla Pedersen Tørnæs urged participants to promote the Nairobi Statement in international fora. It will have to deliver the message to the upcoming climate change negotiations in Copenhagen that water and land are key to adaptation. And it will have to, urgently, drive concrete actions to implement adaptation measures in the most vulnerable communities and nations.