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TEC Brief #5- Technologies for adaptation in the water sector

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UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee (TEC)
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Climate change will increase the natural variability of rainfall patterns and is likely to generate more extreme events, such as floods and droughts. These phenomena are expected to have significant effects on water safety and security, altering patterns of availability and distribution, and increasing water contamination (UN Water, 2007). Such changes have caused a multitude of impacts, which, due to future climatic changes, are expected to escalate (IPCC, 2014). Countries have, therefore, prioritised the water sector as a critical area of focus for adaptation, alongside agriculture. Technologies employed to respond to changes in the water sector are highlighted as a crucial resource for ensuring the effectiveness of adaptation. The Fifth Assessment Report of Working Group 2 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC WGII AR5) has emphasised the role of technology in supporting adaptation to changes in water (IPCC, 2014). Moreover, the Third Synthesis Report of the Technology Needs Assessments (TNAs) reflects the prioritisation of adaptation in the water sector by 77 per cent of Parties (UNFCCC, 2013).

The Technology Executive Committee (TEC) recognises the need for appropriate policies to support countries in employing technologies for adaptation, in order to meet the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This policy brief has been developed for policy makers in national and local levels of government. In so doing, it has drawn upon existing examples of water technologies to highlight lessons learned and provide recommendations for policy, while bearing in mind the principles for effective adaptation (outlined in Section C-1 of the Technical Summary of the IPCC WGII AR5).

Technologies employed to support adaptation in the water sector may address issues of drought and scarcity, floods and over-abundance, water quality degradation, ecosystem impacts and service demand and use. To focus the scope of the discussion, this brief only covers technologies employed for addressing decreases in water availability (drought and scarcity), particularly in rural and developing country contexts. Nevertheless, the Brief will touch upon other issues aforementioned above, whenever relevant. Finally, a separate policy brief for agriculture can be referred to for an understanding of symmetries, co-benefits and integration between both sectors.