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Transboundary water governance and climate change adaptation

Publication date:
A. Rieu-Clarke
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As climate variability increases, so does the cost of the infrastructure, information and systems needed to cope with it. The biggest impact of climate change in many sectors may well be an increase in the cost of water services.

In addition, approaches to water resource management have evolved over the past few decades following the acknowledgment that engineering solutions, while vitally important and an integral part of any future approach, cannot by themselves solve the world’s water problems.

The most important factors to be considered for climate change adaptation in the water context relate to a range of social, economic and political challenges that have to be addressed, and a variety of ‘soft’, legal and institutional instruments that can be deployed to complement infrastructural solutions.

Experiences from river basins around the world provide numerous examples of ways in which the measures described in this report have been adopted and implemented.

Addressing these complex and often interrelated challenges requires consideration of a whole host of social, cultural, economic, environmental, legal and political factors.

However, for the purposes of this report, only the governance-related aspects have been considered. While these governance-related aspects are crucial to the development of climate change adaptation measures, they should, the authors maintain, not be considered in isolation. The main governance aspects they take into consideration are the following:

Adopting ecosystem-based approaches to water management strategies.
Strengthening institutions in order to facilitate ecosystem-based climate change adaptation.
Coherent legal and regulatory frameworks.
Investment in water governance capacity is critical