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Participants at World Water Week Send a Message to Delegates at COP15

The water planetAn international gathering of more than 2,500 experts in business, policy advocacy, government, and science concluded World Water Week in Stockholm today with a message urging world leaders to give more focus  to global water management in the face of climate change at the upcoming COP15 climate conference this December.

Called the Stockholm Statement (pdf) the message begins with the following statement:

Climate change is happening and adding complexity to existing global challenges. A strong and fair agreement on future global commitments on climate change measures—both mitigation and adaptation—is crucial in order to secure future water resource availability. The negotiations towards a Copenhagen Agreement are therefore of great concern to the global water community.

The importance of water must be properly and adequately reflected within the COP-15 agreement, and in processes beyond COP-15.”

Normally, World Water Week doesn’t conclude with a closing statement, but given the importance of the upcoming negotiations in Copenhagen and the deleterious effect climate change has on the hydrological cycle, the Stockholm Statement was issued.

This year with the climate change negotiations…we felt as water professionals that we needed to send a clear message to those negotiations in order to make sure that water is considered when it comes to the climate change adaptation and mitigations,” said World Water Week director Cecelia Martinsen.

With some regions experiencing more severe flooding and others prolonged drought, Martinsen says a principal point of the statement is to urge negotiators in Copenhagen to consider water issues as integral to climate change, not a “separate vector.”

Water cannot be considered as a sector as such. Water is needed in all sectors, in all parts of society for us to survive.  It’s vital for human health….  It’s vital for production when it comes to industries. It’s vital for agriculture,” Martinsen said.

World Water Week is organized and sponsored by the Stockholm International Water Institute, a policy think tank focusing on “sustainable solutions to the world’s escalating water crisis.”

Anders Berntell, head of the Institute,  reinforced Martinsen’s comments in a statement to the Associated Press, saying that water issues don’t yet “get enough attention in climate negotiations.”

To be effective, climate negotiations must factor in the impact and importance of water for the world and, indeed, human well-being,” Berntall said. “When you change the availability of water, you change the prerequisites for farming — the possibility to feed this planet — and you change the possibilities for energy production, forestry and industries.”

Greater cooperation across borders and between disciplines

Attendees of World Water Week also called for greater cooperation and management of water resources across borders (like it or not, water doesn’t recognize international borders), and for greater cooperation between decision-makers involved in land and forest management, climate, and water issues. The statements underline the need for an integrated, holistic approach to environmental stewardship and sustainability.

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