Climate Change Adaptation
Climate change poses a serious threat to our ability to manage our water resources in the Danube River Basin. In response, the ICPDR updated its Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change in 2018 based on the most recent research in the field.
First Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change in 2012
As a leader and pioneer among transboundary river basin commissions in responding to climate change, the ICPDR adopted the first ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change in 2012. Based on its strategy, the ICPDR fully integrated climate adaptation issues in its updated Danube River Basin Management Plan and in the first Danube Flood Risk Management Plan in 2015.
Update of the Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change in 2018
At the Danube Ministerial Meeting in February 2016, Ministers from the ICPDR member countries asked “the ICPDR to foresee an update of its strategy, in particular with regard to its knowledge base, in 2018 in order to prepare the updated strategy in time for the next planning cycle of the EU Water Framework Directive and EU Floods Directive”. The ICPDR nominated Germany, Austria and Serbia to steer the update of the Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change within the framework of the ICPDR and selected the River Basin Management Expert Group as the responsible expert group within the ICPDR. Additional experts were nominated by the Danube countries to support and advise on updating the strategy.
Three-step approach – Update the existing knowledge base, hold the ICPDR Climate Change Adaptation Workshop and update the ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change
Following its mandate to update the ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change of 2012, the ICPDR implemented a step-by-step approach with the following three steps:
1.Update of the existing knowledge base and the 2012 scientific Danube Study
In 2012, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (LMU) provided a study that formed the knowledge base underlying the 2012 ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change. As a first step towards updating the strategy, LMU provided an update to its study titled “Integrating and editing new scientific results in climate change research and the resulting impacts on water availability to revise the existing adaptation strategies in the Danube River basin” (Danube Study) in January 2018. The study provides the basis for a common, Danube-wide understanding of the future impacts of climate change on water resources and suitable adaptation measures, and provides information needed to update the ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change. In addition, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre published its Technical Report titled “Impact of a changing climate, land use, and water usage on water resources in the Danube river basin” in May 2018. The technical report provides additional information used to update the ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change.
2. Adaptation Workshop – Discussion on the key findings and conclusions of the updated knowledge base and Danube Study
The key findings and conclusions of the Danube Study were discussed among various ICPDR Expert Groups and Task Groups. The results were presented in a broad stakeholder involvement process at the ICPDR Climate Change Adaptation Workshop, which took place in March 2018 in Belgrade.
3.Update of the existing strategy based on current scientific results as well as legislative and policy instruments at the EU and Danube country levels
The discussions and results of the workshop allowed the first steps towards updating the ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change. The update was completed with the broad participation of relevant ICPDR Expert Groups and Task Groups, nominated experts and ICPDR observer organizations during 2018.
Aim of the ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change
The ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change aims at offering guidance on the integration of climate change adaptation into ICPDR planning processes. Further, it promotes multilateral and transboundary cooperation action in the context of climate change adaptation and serves as a reference for national policy makers and other officials. An overview of potential adaptation measures, which are classified into five different categories based on their objectives, is included in the strategy:
- Preparation measures aim to support planning processes. This includes monitoring, evaluating changes, identifying risk areas, elaborating on warning systems and emergency plans and supporting further research where needed.
- Ecosystem-based measures aim to reduce the negative effects of a changing climate by enhancing the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt. These measures help to conserve or restore ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems can thus increase resilience to slow changes, such as increasing summer temperatures, or sudden impacts, such as floods.
- Behavioural and managerial measures aim to raise awareness about possible future conditions and to support sustainable management, with a focus on efficient use of water and conserving good water quality. This includes, among other things, elaborating risk management plans for water scarcity and advancing best practices, where the exchange of knowledge plays an important role.
- Technological measures aim to help implement individual projects. The focus is on infrastructure that has to be built or improved, such as dams, reservoirs, fish ladders or water networks.
- Policy approaches aim to support the national, international and basin-wide coordination of activities. Common transnational threshold values, limits, restrictions, expansions (e.g. for protection areas or nature reserves), etc. should be considered. An overview of the most important potential adaptation measures is included in the strategy with a link to an online tool that helps users obtain detailed information on measures of interest.
A comprehensive and easy to use toolbox of potential adaptation measures is provided here: http://www.icpdr.org/climate-change-adaptation-measures-toolbox. The toolbox allows the user to obtain detailed information on measures of interest, which are divided into various groups such as impact fields, relevance to the WFD and time horizons.
ICPDR approach for integrating climate change adaptation in ICPDR activities
The ICPDR approach is a set of principles that guide integration of climate change adaptation into ICPDR activities and can be summarized as follows:
- A joint understanding of scenarios, impacts and adaptation measures and sharing a scientific knowledge base is essential for joint decision making in a transboundary basin such as the Danube River Basin.
- The ICPDR Climate Change Adaptation Strategy does not include a separate programme of measures but relevant actions will be incorporated in activities outlined in the Danube River Basin Management Plans and Flood Risk Management Plans.
- Since climate change is a key cross-cutting issue, all ICPDR Expert Groups and Task Groups are mandated to fully integrate climate change adaptation in the development of the Danube River Basin Management Plan and the Danube Flood Risk Management Plan.
- The ICPDR Climate Change Adaptation Strategy focuses on issues relevant at the Danube basin-wide level (level A) and needs to be complemented with further detailed planning on adaptation at sub-basin, national and/or sub-unit level.
- Consultation on competing uses and priorities to prevent potential conflicts is needed to take into account potential target conflicts and competition between different water-related users and sectors such as agriculture, navigation, water supply, energy, industry, tourism, environment and nature protection.
- The communication, coordination and stakeholder involvement on climate change adaptation issues among different levels of management in the Danube River Basin must be ensured at the national level, throughout the ICPDR and also across projects.
- Building resilience against climate change impacts water resources through capacity building, transboundary cooperation and benefit-sharing is a key priority to address climate change in the Danube River Basin.