Chapter 5 Meeting the Challenge
5.1 Establishing National Adaptation Coalitions
Water professionals have a long record of dealing with variations in water resources by using traditional risk management approaches. The uncertainty arising from climate change, however, requires a new adaptive management style – a style that focuses on transparency and involves stakeholders in decision making and implementation. This means adaptation to climate change will benefit from the establishment of a broad-based, inclusive coalition of a range of actors: National Adaptation Coalitions.
Establishing National Adaptation Coalitions can provide a platform to bring together the various actors. They can act as a catalyst for getting adaptation started by supporting immediate actions, plans for the medium-term, and the establishment of key priorities for the long-term sustainability of adaptation. The coalitions will need to include actors from a variety of government agencies, private companies, societal groups and research institutions. Representatives will have to define their set of shared policy principles. They also will need to agree on the ways they want to influence decision making in both government and non-government institutions.
“NATIONAL ADAPTATION COALITIONS CAN ACT AS A CATALYST FOR GETTING ADAPTATION STARTED.”
A National Adaptation Coalition could combine a top-down planning approach with an “autonomous” adaptation process. It would bring together the strengths of public policy and planning with the energy and creativity arising from the involvement of a wide range of actors. Creating coalitions is likely to be one of the best possible responses to the complexities of water management in an era of climate change.
National Adaptation Coalitions can be set-up when individual groups and organizations come to understand that it is in their own separate as well as collective interest to engage. While the profit motivation of the private sector is clear enough, the reasons why a broader section of civil society should be involved in adaptation will not always be so apparent. The most obvious cases involve situations where there are specific interest groups, such as farmers wishing to ensure an adequate supply of irrigation water, or downstream flood-plain dwellers aiming to protect their lives and property. These groups need to be informed about climate change so that they understand its implications and can engage in coalition building.
Obviously, all coalitions will not look the same; they are likely to vary in different countries, provinces, companies, and communities as they configure themselves according to local conditions and capacities. What should be common to every coalition and every country, however, is the goal of bringing about a fundamental change in how climate-related risk and uncertainty in the water sector is addressed.
PRIORITIES FOR ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN CENTRAL AMERICA
During the Central American Dialogue on Water & Climate, local experts on agriculture and water resources management discussed key adaptation options to reduce vulnerability. Useful options that were identified included:
adapting engineering practice to the impacts of floods and any other hydro-meteorological events;
strengthening Early Warning Systems;
establishing an efficient organization for disaster response;
reforming insurance systems and policies, in order to start considering and accounting for the frequency of floods;
reforming water laws; and
saving water in “aljibes” in the rainy season to be used during the driest months.
In the agricultural sector, participants supported the development and distribution of drought-resistant plant varieties, flexibility in sowing times, agro-climate zoning, crop rotation during adverse weather conditions, and an effective incentives system to encourage the improvement of water-efficiency for irrigation practices.
Participants also supported the development of a GIS (geographic information system) tailored to local needs. This would allow the mapping of flooding areas in order to avoid occupying and investing in hazard-prone lands. Implementation of river basin management policies and practices was also supported. Besides reforestation of slopes with native species, participants noted that fruit trees can be used, that soil conservation can be promoted with permanent shrub vegetation, and that fast growing species of trees and bushes can furnish peasants with wood.
SCOTLAND IS MANAGING
CONFLICTING INTERESTS AND ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE
In Scotland, new ways of water management are being pioneered that build strongly on a multi-stakeholder process. A number of river basins in the Scottish Cairngorms mountains face growing pressure on water resources due to an increase in conflicting water demands and the potential pressures of climate change. Whisky distilleries, anglers and fishermen, tourists, nature protection advocates, and farmers all demand certain water regimes. Following the introduction of the EU Water Framework Directive, consultations with stakeholders were conducted to define a response to increasing pressures in surrounding catchments. Bringing together the various stakeholders has helped generate a wide interest in the improved management of the catchments. The experience revealed that climate change issues need to be embedded in water management policies if they are to be fully addressed by stakeholders.39
5.2 Making Adaptation Work for People
It will be important for efforts to focus on servicing people's needs so they are better-off once adaptation measures are implemented. Such adaptation should build on the real needs and. opportunities identified and articulated by water users and managers. A major challenge will be to ensure that adaptation measures provide services of high quality and reliability as soon as is practicable, especially to the most vulnerable. Only when individuals and communities view it as in their individual or collective interest to engage will genuine adaptation truly get underway. Knowing stakeholder preferences and involving them in policy formulation, planning and implementation will therefore be critical. Establishing an inclusive process and securing local stakeholders' involvement will help develop a common approach based on insight, on-the-ground experience and community support
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION PRIORITIES IN THE MEKONG RIVER BASIN
At the Dialogue on Water, Wetlands and Climate Change in the Mekong River Basin, participants observed that the Mekong River Commission and several other institutions are starting to incorporate climate change into their work. Governments in Thailand and Vietnam appear to be in a better position to initiate activities than Laos and Cambodia, where government structures are more in need of strentghtening. Climate change could be another area in which cooperation can occur, reinforcing the growing trend towards regional collaboration.
Across the countries sharing the Mekong area, local adaptation capacities may be high among communities given their access to and control of natural resources. Most rural communities in the Mekong have diverse livelihood options and these should be reinforced and supported. State-led initiatives to promote mono-crop farming – such as intensive irrigated rice cultivation – is likely to reduce the adaptive capacity of farmers. Ongoing manipulation of hydrological regimes through the development of infrastructure can also increase vulnerability. Key adaptation objectives could include:
diversifying agricultural production to cope with changes in water availability;
addressing incentives that currently promote maladaptive practices, including economic policies and regulations that shape resource use;
employing sustainable natural resource management with effective community participation;
improving information sharing and development;
raising public and political awareness; and
improving water use efficiency.
Several partners were identified that could play a major role in moving climate change adaptation forward in the Mekong region. These potential partners include the Mekong River Commission, Asian Development Bank, Southeast Asia START Centre, IUCN The World Conservation Union, Oxfam Mekong Initiative, International Rice Research Institute, International Water Management Institute, Mekong Environment and Resource Institute, and Asia Disaster Preparedness Centre. Other relevant entities in the Mekong countries include national universities, ministries of water, agriculture, and environment, and national committees on climate change and on the Mekong.
GIS operators looking at land use planning in Kampala, Uganda
Training for water quality monitoring in Mauritania
MEDITERRANEAN ACTIONS TOWARDS ADAPTATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Participants at the Mediterranean Dialogue on Water, Wetlands and Climate Change indicated that several measures to cope with increased climate variability have already been incorporated into water resource development and management. However, there remains plenty of scope for existing measures that reduce vulnerability to be reinforced, while other maladaptive policies need to be eliminated. In the northern Mediterranean, many activities that are consistent with climate change adaptation are encouraged through the EU Framework Directives on Water Resources and Management.
The region's water resources have been planned, designed and managed largely on the basis of past hydrological conditions. Adjusting existing management regimes to account for the growing uncertainty of climate change will become a defining feature of water resource planning over the next few years. Key objectives include:
reducing current vulnerability through measures such as flood zoning and land use controls;
closing the demand-supply gap, developing demand-side management and drought preparedness programmes, reducing water supply leakage, and mobilizing non-conventional sources of water; and
maintaining and restoring key wetland functions, introducing environmental flow policies that can cope with a range of conditions and are linked to drought measures, and restoring and maintaining wetlands and watersheds.
In Greece, the government has begun to inform farmers about the potential impacts of climate change. In France, drought preparedness and prevention schemes are part of the legal framework on water resource development. The French Government is also seeking to speed up the implementation of Plans for the Prevention of Risks and to improve flood warning systems. Upstream measures such as reforestation are being implemented to prevent floods as part of catchment management. Morocco has taken steps to increase the number of wastewater plants and wetlands protection measures to reduce current vulnerability to water scarcity. In Italy, actions linked to the 2002 Environmental Action Strategy have focused on three priorities - water conservation, water quality, and sustainable water pricing. In Cyprus, measures have been implemented to increase the efficiency of water supply and develop non-conventional sources of water, such as desalination, which now makes up more than 10% of freshwater supply. Institutional capacities such as the National Drought Observatory in Morocco can help ensure that drought management addresses both current and future climate vulnerability.
ADAPTATION OPTIONS FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA
A number of institutions are working in Southern Africa to lessen the impacts of climate change by strengthening disaster preparedness efforts. Participants at the Regional Dialogue on Climate Change, Water and Wetlands in Southern Africa, identified a number of technical, financial and socio-economic options to improve the adaptive capacity of the region to climate change. Some of the options identified include improved forecasting, retrofitting infrastructure with additional safety features, increasing water storage capacity, instituting water demand management, implementing water reclamation, and supporting flood and drought insurance.
Tackling the challenge of climate change provides a new opportunity for collaboration and partnership, since none of the countries has the resources or capacities to adapt successfully on its own. Participants at the Regional Dialogue recommended that a "network of champions" be created in Southern Africa to support and drive a new regional initiative on adaptation. Institutions that should be included in the network include river basin commissions and committees, the Southern African Development Community, national committees on climate change, wetlands and water, the Global Water Partnership, IUCN The World Conservation Union, and Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE). The main tasks of this network would be to raise public and political awareness for incorporating climate change into water and wetland resource planning and management.
EXPERIMENTING WITH ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO WATER RESOURCES
ALLOCATION INCREASES YIELDS IN ANDRA PRADESH.
In Andra Pradesh, India, experiments growing paddy rice with a minimum amount of water during dry years has resulted in an overall reduction of water demand by farmers. Traditionally, no crops are grown in the irrigation tank command areas before the tanks are half-full of water, which usually happens towards the end of August. This is in spite of the fact that enough soil moisture would be available in the command areas earlier. Experimentation with early deep seeding and weeding in June demonstrated that under specific conditions a crop can be grown with considerably less water. The experience has important implications for management of the command area during dry years when not enough water would be available in the tanks and reservoirs. Using the new technique allows the entire command area to receive supplemented irrigation during the critical flowering and yield formation periods. Experiments carried out during a drought showed that though the yields per hectare would decrease by about 10 percent, the total yield in the command area would increase by as much as 50%. These types of experiments will need further support if societies are to adapt to changes in the hydrological cycle due to climate change.40
The new type of uncertainty resulting from climate change means that past records, science, and expertise now provide a less secure basis for choice than in the past. The choices that need to be made should be based on public participation and consent. This may result in a somewhat confusing social process. Just as issues such as health care and genetically modified organisms have generated much debate, wide public discussions on how best to deal with climate change will provide an opportunity to generate public and political support for sharing the burden (and the benefits) of the impacts.
“IT IS UNREALISTIC TO EXPECT THAT ADAPTATION WILL SIMPLY HAPPEN BECAUSE IT ‘SOUNDS LIKE THE RIGHT THING TO DO’.”
Involving the public in this process will require building adaptation strategies and measures around the water manager's and user's current abilities. Endeavouring to overcome resistance to unpopular actions is unlikely to yield quick results. In addition, training will be needed to clarify climate change issues and introduce possible alternative adaptation measures. Demonstrations and peer review of innovative measures can be extremely useful. Through training, stakeholders' commitment and a personal identification with the issues can be developed.
Adapting water resources management to climate variability and change will need to bring short-term as well as long-term benefits. Actions that promote near-term paybacks to the people involved will be important –it is unrealistic to expect that adaptation will simply happen because it “sounds like the right thing to do”. On the contrary, one major difficulty with the uncertainty of climate change is that costly adaptation measures may prove to have been unnecessary when the climate does not change as expected. When discussing adaptation measures it will therefore be important to focus on “no-regrets” or “win-win” solutions. These measures would provide significant benefits even if climate change does not manifest itself in quite the ways predicted.
IN HONDURAS, TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES COULD BECOME THE STARTING POINT
An example of the sort of adaptation a coalition might support comes from the remote village of Guarita in Honduras. The village was one of the few places in the region that successfully avoided the worst of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. The traditional Quezungal farming method practised by the local villagers had protected the upper-catchment and reduced the loss of crops to only 10 per cent. Their traditional farming involves planting crops under trees whose roots anchor the soil, pruning vegetation to provide nutrients to the soil and conserve soil water, and terracing to reduce soil erosion. Unfortunately, the methods taught at agricultural colleges and employed in surrounding areas caused much damage, as they were suited more for cultivation of plains rather than for farmland located on more hilly terrain. The traditional Quezungal method avoids widespread slash-and-burn techniques and improves soil fertility. It is now being actively promoted by the Government of Honduras in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This example illustrates that building and supporting traditional knowledge and techniques can be a valuable part of an adaptive management strategy for climate change.38
A BROAD COALITION COULD HELP TO IMPLEMENT INNOVATIVE CLIMATE
ADAPTATION SOLUTIONS IN THE NETHERLANDS
A coalition could materially assist a proposal in the Netherlands to support peat-bog areas to counteract the impacts of land subsidence and sea level rise. “Growing with the sea” is a Dutch initiative to link coastal defence to nature conservation and restoration. The planned inundation of low-lying areas to store freshwater, facilitate purification and create wetlands is being proposed. The measure would counteract the ongoing subsidence of 40–50 centimetres in some peat-bog areas. The peat bogs would function as buffers against excess rainwater and would supply water for industry, agriculture and human consumption. They would also provide a habitat for important plant and animal species and provide various recreational opportunities. The innovative idea combines long-term aspects of adapting to climate change with direct, short-term benefits to society.41
POLITICAL LEADERS IN CALIFORNIA USE DROUGHTS TO MAKE PROGRESS WITH
Leaders can help increase public acceptance and generate political will to change long-standing (and often legally-binding) constraints. Working with a National Adaptation Coalition can increase the ability to seize upon an event to push for much-needed reforms to adapt to climate change. For instance, droughts have been used to promote reforms in water supply, management and even demand. In California, the serious drought that occurred in the 1980s prompted Congress to remove legislative constraints on the operational flexibility of California's Central Valley Project. This allowed water to be reallocated for in-stream uses to protect aquatic habitats. This change, combined with strict adherence to water quality standards, provided the basis for addressing the impacts of droughts while also targeting key environmental concerns.17
PUBLIC INFORMATION CAMPAIGNS IN COSTA RICA REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION
IMPACTED BY CLIMATE VARIABILITY
With the support of leaders, a coalition can also undertake public information campaigns and incentives such as those carried out in Costa Rica to reduce hydropower energy consumption affected by climate variability. Costa Rica's Electricity Institute has developed a nationwide strategy to reduce energy consumption and encourages users to be more efficient when using energy. With a 98% dependency on hydropower, Costa Rica's energy supply is directly dependent on its water resources and strongly affected by climatic variability. Through a newspaper, radio and television campaign the government is working to reduce energy demand. In addition, incentives are provided to directly reduce energy consumption. The policy assists in establishing a societal process in which people value energy and water resources and assume responsibility for actions towards sustainable water management42
5.3 Kick-Starting Adaptation by Catalysing Innovation
National Adaptation Coalitions can play a key role in catalysing innovation. They can create opportunities for innovation and develop into an effective network of innovators working on adaptation to climate change. Encouraging innovative, entrepreneurial behaviour could be a main task of the coalitions. This means creating an environment where water professionals and water users are encouraged to experiment with small-scale innovations that make incremental improvements on present practice. Ensuring widespread recognition of those championing innovation would also help the cause of adaptation.
Coalitions can foster innovation by establishing small “path-finding” teams that bring together a variety of actors. The role of these teams would be to identify innovative or cutting-edge practices used by water users and managers, and to work with these people in identifying further initiatives.
“SMALL TEAMS COULD IDENTIFY INNOVATIVE OR CUTTING EDGE PRACTICES.”
Innovation often thrives where an open exchange of ideas and even “random interactions” between people and organizations are encouraged. Creating both formal and informal opportunities for water actors to communicate and share ideas about their latest innovative projects or initiatives would contribute to this.
Using loosely-coupled project teams in a flexible manner is known to be an extremely effective way to identify innovative solutions. Organizational fluidity will be essential in establishing and maintaining coalitions that would generate effective communication within and between existing government, business and societal structures. To develop this, a mechanism will be required to encourage less formal and hopefully more creative and innovative activities outside of the mainstream. Small grants funds can be used to achieve this. Such activities should be linked to an overall learning strategy that fosters feedback amongst participants. Disseminating information on lessons learned from unsuccessful efforts will also be a part of this process.
Maintaining the momentum will remain a challenge throughout the process. Therefore, focusing on a “results-first” approach that expedites innovative, tangible actions appears to be most desirable. During the early stages of the adaptation process, coalitions could focus on stimulating lower risk ideas that can achieve clear results in the short term. In this way they can develop the confidence and momentum needed to mainstream innovative thinking among a wider group of water actors.
5.4 Engaging Leaders to Support and Communicate the Adaptation Process
Securing support from key political and other leaders for adaptation and the need for National Adaptation Coalitions is crucial. The minister of water resources, the head of the water authority, and leaders of businesses and non-governmental organizations can play a critical role in defining and communicating the set of core values that will guide adaptation and catalyse the process.
The core values of the adaptation process should feature prominently in the coalition's communications. These values ought to be identified early on and should be consistent with the core values of modern water management. Defining these core values will be an essential part of creating the political buy-in from key interest groups within the coalition.
As the adaptation process continues, the role of political leaders and other key figures will be to repeat and pay explicit attention to the core values in order to guide further policies, strategies and actions. The leaders involved should articulate a clear message in order to instil the core values and communicate their perspectives with the public. As well as political figures, well-known entertainers, sports celebrities and business leaders can all play a role within the adaptation process.
Leaders will need to communicate a sense of urgency and enthusiasm throughout the adaptation process. A communication style that is open and confronts issues in a straightforward manner will be needed. Given the large uncertainties, some de-politicising of the issues will be required to encourage people to become involved in finding the most suitable adaptation measures. Given the multi-stakeholder nature of adaptation, a number of leaders from different societal groups will be needed to communicate effectively on adaptation.
“SECURING SUPPORT FROM KEY POLITICAL AND OTHER LEADERS IS CRUCIAL.”
Once some successful adaptation approaches and measures have been developed, leaders can slowly but surely lead the diffusion process. Good communication to the appropriate target audiences will again be needed. Small-scale events, such as presentations and demonstrations to practitioners, is often effective as a catalyst for further action. The National Adaptation Coalitions will need to devote time and energy to developing appropriate slogans, catchphrases, and other key messages that confirm core values and best practice. Leaders involved in the adaptation process should encourage public enthusiasm and recognition for the innovative climate adaptation actions being undertaken.
Planning meeting in Costa Rica
ADAPTATION OPTIONS FOR WEST AFRICA
There are numerous relevant initiatives in West Africa that relate to climate change in general or to water and the environment, according to participants attending the recent Regional Dialogue on Water, Wetlands and Climate Change in West Africa. While some initiatives are research activities, others are undertaken as part of the implementation of international conventions on desertification, wetlands, biodiversity and climate change. A good starting point is therefore to build on and complement what is already being done. In this regard, efforts should be made to develop synergies with existing international treaties and conventions, in order to ensure that climate change issues are adequately reflected in national action plans and strategies. Efforts to increase the available resources for data collection and analysis should also be supported, in order to increase the region's capacity in climate impact analysis and climate change forecasting.
One of the core elements of the adaptation strategy identified during the Regional Dialogue is the strengthening of the capacity of government actors and other entities. An action plan is needed to improve the sub-region's capacity to adapt to climate change impacts on water resources and ecosystems. Participants agreed on the following objectives for adaptation
Improving knowledge on the region's climate, water resources, and ecosystems, and on the impacts of climate change and variability on these different elements.
Strengthening the networks of data collection for improved quality and quantity of information, especially in the areas of climate, hydrology, water quality, and water uses.
Strengthening the information base for forecasting and early warning to prevent or minimize the consequences of climate variability.
Strengthening the capacity of the basin organizations and other sub-regional institutions involved in managing the effects of climate variability.
Promoting Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) together with the ecosystem management approach.
Increasing decision makers' awareness and support governments in their efforts to implement environmental conventions (including the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Framework Convention on Climate Change).
Strengthening capacities at all levels on aspects related to water and climate.
Promoting any form of adaptation that ensures better management of water resources and ecosystems in the sub-region.
Participants stressed the need to build on and develop synergies with other major initiatives underway in the sub-region, including the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the African Ministerial Conference on Water (AMCOW), the European Initiative on Water, the African Funds on Water, and the Canadian Initiative on Water.
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