The global community has agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for tackling the unprecedented challenges that we are facing today, including our changing climate. Climate change requires us to rethink our approach and to better plan, design and coordinate our actions. The scale of the challenges and the urgency of the threats we are currently facing dictate that strong collaborative efforts are essential if we are to respond to these problems effectively. Countries cannot deal with the consequences of climate change on their own.
Only joint efforts and coordinated planning can effectively prevent the unintended impacts of climate change between neighboring countries and avoid maladaptation. This spirit of cooperation, both across borders and sectors, has been a defining feature of UNECE’s work for over seventy years, bringing countries and stakeholders together to find shared solutions to common problems.
Cooperation on water is a case in point. The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), serviced by the UNECE, provides a practical framework for the sustainable management of shared water resources. The ICPDR has been putting these principles of cooperation into action at basin level for 20 years now, providing a powerful illustration of the value and benefits of effective transboundary cooperation.
Due to be adopted in December 2018, the ICPDR’s new Climate Adaptation Strategy is a clear demonstration of how such cooperation can help in the response to complex emerging challenges. I appreciate that the the nexus approach adopted by the revised strategy will prove to be successful in bringing all users of water resources from all sectors closer together in their efforts to find cross-sectoral solutions.
The ICPDR’s revised Climate Change Adaptation Strategy places particular emphasis on building resilience through capacity building, transboundary cooperation, and benefit-sharing. In doing so, it is implementing in an exemplary manner the principles and approaches to climate change adaptation that the Water Convention has been promoting since 2006. I therefore hope that the revised strategy will inspire and drive action not only in the Danube River Basin, but also far beyond it.
I would like to reiterate the commitment of UNECE and the secretariat of the Water Convention to its continued successful cooperation with the ICPDR, promoting ICPDR experiences through the Convention’s platform to motivate and spur action to increase resilience and sustainability in transboundary basins worldwide.
Olga Algayerova is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)