Preface


This report will help water professionals to identify actions that can be taken to adapt to the changes in the world's water regimes expected to occur over the coming decades. It's origins can be traced back to the World Water Vision, a declaration on global water issues adopted in March 2000 during the Second World Water Forum. The Vision highlighted climate change as one of the major challenges facing water professionals over the next twenty-five years.

The World Water Vision coincided with a growing awareness within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the need to adapt to climate change. Changes to the climate are already leading to more unstable and shifting water regimes around the world. The limited reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are agreed upon in international negotiations will be inadequate to mitigate their effects. It is becoming apparent that if we cannot prevent the problem, we must adapt to it.

IUCN's work on the linkage between water and wetland resources and climate change stems from its engagement in the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. As a long-standing partner of that Convention, IUCN provided technical advice to Parties when they adopted their first resolution on climate change at their seventh Conference of Contracting Parties in 1999. More recently, IUCN prepared the Wetlands and Climate Change report, which provided an analysis of the linkages between the Ramsar Convention and the UNFCCC.

Further work conducted by IUCN in partnership with others has unveiled more and more evidence of increasingly unstable and shifting water regimes around the world. Water professionals in most countries are confronted with greater variability in the amount and seasonality of rainfall and stream flows, as well as the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme hydrological events. Their concern is that this variability will increase with a warming world, and place ever increasing challenges on conventional water practices and policies.

This book encourages water professionals to continue with, and to strengthen, the changes they are already beginning to make. Climate change reinforces the new style of management that is emerging within the water sector in response to rising demands for water resources. Such a management style moves beyond technical quick fixes to engage with various societal groups in a process to deal with emerging risks and uncertainties. The new management style includes all stakeholders, relies on the capacities of people, encourages joint learning, and invests in managing conflicts.

IUCN looks forward to working with water professionals and other partners in catalysing a society-wide process for addressing one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Only by thinking, working and learning together can we tackle the impacts on water resources and the uncertainties induced by climate change.

Achim Steiner
Director General
IUCN-The World Conservation Union

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