The costly challenge of water and climate change

13 September 2010 | News story

Financing the water sector in developing countries and the costs of adapting to climate change were under discussion during the World Water Week, which closed in Stockholm on 11 September.

During the meeting participants highlighted the need to clearly differentiate between projects covering development, climate change adaptation and water when looking for funding, especially as donors and financing institutions tend to group these projects under the ‘climate change adaptation’ banner, writes Juan Carlos Sanchez of IUCN’s Environmental Law Programme.

According to participants, climate change adaptation should occupy a central place in development projects. The continuing need to raise awareness about the challenges of adapting to climate change was mentioned as particularly important, as was creating links between the national level, where strategies are developed, and the local level, where their implementation often fails. Closer collaboration from the highest level within the international community down to joint efforts of local communities should be seen as a crucial part of efficient development projects and local communities should be viewed as a precious source of knowledge about adapting to climate change.

The costs of climate change adaptation are extremely high and although financing opportunities do exist, coming from such international institutions as the World Bank, the KfW Development Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank (BID), it was pointed out that the activities of these institutions often lack coherence: while financing the costly adaptation to climate change projects, they also finance environmentally-disturbing projects such as coal mining or the construction of dams.

A report from the meeting will serve as a basis for a proposal towards putting water at the centre of the meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to take place from 29 November to 10 December this year in Cancun, Mexico.

For more information please contact: 

Juan Carlos Sanchez, Legal Officer, IUCN Environmental Law Centre