World Water Week 2011: how we are adapting to climate change
By Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm - Sep 7 2011
Stockholm: the city on the water. A group of small islands stitched together as the capital city of Sweden. A place that has become an example for reversing the large pollution in its waters and that is now surrounded by pristine fresh and salt water. Just the ideal location to hold “World Water Week” every year since 1991.
I visited Stockholm for the first time last year, when the IDB co-hosted the “Latin America and Caribbean Day”, jointly with CONAGUA and Fundación FEMSA of Mexico, UN-Habitat, and other organizations in the region. This time, we hosted the LAC Day for a second time, with a larger number of co-sponsors (so the event is catching on :-)) and perhaps more people in attendance than the first time.
My role this year, same as last year, was to moderate the “Americas’ Regional Panel on Water and Climate Change”, an event that brought together policy makers, scientists, government actors and many other organizations around sharing experiences in adapting to climate change across the region, from accelerated glacial melting in the Andes, to sea level rise in the Caribbean, to droughts on the Atlantic coast of Honduras to flash floods in Mexico.
In the panel we held in Stockholm last year, the discussion was focused on raising the awareness of adaptation in the climate change. This is something that carried out to the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16) at Cancún a few months later, and that was the subject of my first blog post. It was good to see this year that the level of awareness of adaptation was already high. The audience was alert and energized, a testament to the importance that adaptation is gaining in the climate change discourse.
As moderator, I took the liberty to be provocative in pointing out that climate change is not (really) a political problem. I also made the plea to the audience that we have lost a decade debating who’s guilty for climate change, a question of little relevance in my mind, instead of investing that effort in finding ways to adapt to the climate change we have been experiencing for many decades now.
And I was glad to hear many in the audience retorting back (and correctly!) that as much as that can indeed be the case, adaptation to climate change is very much in need of, and driven by, appropriate public policies. So, I tell you now that adaptation to climate change is not an environmental problem; it is a vital development problem, and a key to attack major issues of security and poverty alleviation in our countries.
So, last year we talked about adaptation being important. This year, we shared some initial experiences. What should we focus on next year?
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