Hydro-climate services are essential because water lies at the heart of climate change adaptation. Improved water management will provide better adaptation possibilities in the food security, health, energy, disaster risk reduction and energy sectors, according to Johannes Culman, Director of WMO Climate and Water Department.
Hydro-climate services are particularly challenging because water crosses national boundaries and will only be effective if a wide range of sectors are involved in the value chain. For instance a decision on new irrigation schemes or a damming system against floods involves needs to involve not just climate and hydrology experts, but also urban and rural planners, financiers, disaster risk reduction and agricultural interests and other end-users, he said.
But the challenge needs to be faced now in order to provide the right services to help climate change adaptation as temperatures continue to rise towards 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial era, said Mr Culman at a side event at COP22.
In a keynote address, Andres Tarand, former Prime Minister, Estonia, noted that viable information on water affects national, regional and international decision making on disaster risk management, health and the environment. He drew attention to mounting global water stresses which pose threats to peace and security, noting that competition for scarce water resources will increase in frequency. He stressed the need for a strong political message on hydro-climate services to address the challenges of climate change, security and development.
Irfan Tariq, Ministry of Climate Change, Pakistan, spoke on the value addition of hydro-climate services, noting that in times of floods there is a need to redirect flood waters to areas where water is most needed. In order to improve hydro-climate services for users, he stressed the need to understand their needs through, inter alia, social media and mobile phone interactions.
Hanadi Awadallah, Department of Afforestation and Reforestation, Sudan, stressed the need for hydro-climate services in the preparation of inter-ministerial national communication data to warn the population of future periods of water decline. She called for greater support for hydro-climate research, more sophisticated meteorological stations in the country and capacity building on the use of hydro-climate services.
Stefan Rösner, German Meteorological Service, stressed the importance of meteorological data informing hydrological planning processes. He noted the need for institutions and capacities to provide hydro-climate services, as well as the administrative authority to provide them. He drew attention to regional climate centres, but noted the need for trained staff to run these centres.
Ali Subah, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Jordan, highlighted water scarcity in his country which is further impacted by the current refugee crisis, noting that the biggest challenge is drinking water. Subah then described a national water information system that includes all the data necessary for decision making for a wide range of sectors, noting the role of, and challenges posed by, transboundary water sources.
Demetrio Innocenti, Green Climate Fund (GCF), said that access to GCF funds is through accredited entities, and noted that many adaptation projects focus on hydrological-meteorological issues. He said that the GCF looks for projects that can generate transformational change but also those that can be operationalized and that are useful for the communities in which they are implemented.
In the ensuing discussion participants addressed, inter alia: how hydroclimatic services can be made accessible to users; and the need for accessible GCF financing for adaptation and mitigation.
IISD report on side event at http://www.iisd.ca/videos/climate/unfccc-cop22-side-events/hydro-climate-services-for-all/