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NEWS: Efforts to include water in climate talks gaining momentum

Inter Press Service reports, “Efforts to establish water as an agenda item in its own right in (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC) negotiations are gaining momentum in Durban, South Africa. Water experts say doing this will lead to a greater focus on developing policy, and attract more resources into the water sector through adaptation programmes. …At this point, water issues are being discussed by treaty negotiators as part of wider planning, prioritising and implementing of adaptation to a changing climate.”

Global Water Partnership
The Global Water Partnership supports the inclusion of water in climate negotiations. The GWP was founded in 1996 by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. Maude Barlow wrote in her book Blue Covenant that, “The Global Water Partnership was instrumental in launching the controversial 2003 report ‘Financing Water for All’, which recommended using public funds to guarantee profits to private water companies operating in areas where they were meeting local resistance.”

The IPS article notes, “Dr. Ania Grobicki, Global Water Partnership Executive Secretary, says that with growing numbers of countries expected to experience water scarcity, the current position of water in climate talks is inadequate. ‘The GDP of many countries in the least developed countries is dependent on water. More than 50 percent of food for the world will come from Africa in the future, and this is dependent on availability of water,’ she says. ‘That is why this discussion should go beyond where it’s now.'”

“Providing adequate access to water across Africa will cost billions of dollars. And for the many African governments which are failing to honour earlier commitments will not be able to raise the required amounts without support. Simon Thuo, the Eastern Africa coordinator for Global Water Partnership, says he is surprised that despite the clear need, even the African negotiating group’s proposals mention water only in passing. Along with other experts, he believes that if climate negotiations address management of this essential commodity specifically, it will not receive the necessary attention and funding.”

Other supporters
This past June, Bloomberg reported, “Water resources have been explicitly highlighted in a United Nations draft text that may shape a future climate-change treaty, according to Elias Freig, manager of carbon finance and economics of climate change of Mexico´s National Water Commission. …’Water has to be brought into the climate-change agenda; it must come under the UNFCCC. …This will bring attention to water issues and the hope that, in the future, when the Green Fund has been established and the rules on how it will work are decided on, funds can be directed towards water-related projects (such as desalination plants, coastal defenses and hydro-power stations) linked to climate change.'”

The countries that appear to support the inclusion of water in the UN climate talks include Mexico, Ecuador, Sudan, Syria, Chile, El Salvador, Sierra Leone and South Africa. Organizations that back this agenda include Freshwater Action Network, Green Cross, and the World Wildlife Fund, http://www.waterclimatecoalition.org/members.

The Council of Canadians believes climate justice and water justice are inter-related. But given water is a human right, and given market mechanisms have been foremost in the UNFCCC talks, we reject efforts to include water in them at this time. We want the UNFCCC to consider the impacts of climate change on water, but they need to address the water crisis through the principles of water justice and sustainability. We are concerned that inclusion of water in the UNFCCC talks would serve to advance the agenda of the Global Water Partnership (noted above), that Green Climate Fund funding of water-related adaptation projects (to be administered by the World Bank) would be problematic, and that it would give leverage for big dams projects, water markets, pricing and the false green economy initiatives we are fighting.

An earlier blog on the inclusion of water in UNFCCC talks can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9430.