India joins climate water coalition in Paris

India has joined a group of researchers, businesses and NGOs to make water systems more resilient to climate change impacts

Two hundred and ninety river basin organisations, businesses, civil society groups and governments have come together for the Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation.

The Indian government has joined the coalition with a promise to improve groundwater management so that it is more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Formed on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Paris, the coalition represents collaborative projects worth over US$20 million in technical assistance and potentially over US$1 billion in financing.

The announcement was part of the “Water Resilience Focus” event under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) on climate change. It also highlighted other key partnerships and coalitions to make river basins, lakes, aquifers and deltas more resilient to climate change and reduce human interference with oceans.

The LPAA is a joint undertaking of the Peruvian and French COP (conference of parties) presidencies, the Office of the secretary-general of the United Nations and the UNFCCC secretariat.

Climate change is causing droughts, floods and storms which affect all water systems and often trigger fatal impacts. The situation is worsened due to unsustainable use of water.

The water pact encompasses individual commitments to implement adaptation plans, strengthening water monitoring and measurement systems in river basins and promoting financial sustainability and new investment in water systems management.

The India plan

Under the pact, the Indian government has made a commitment to build climate resilience through improved groundwater management. It is a US$1 billion programme, of which the World Bank will make an investment of US$500 million.

India is the world’s largest user of groundwater. The World Bank funding will help institutional reforms, build capacity and develop infrastructure.

Apart from India, the World Bank has announced a big boost in funding water programmes in the Niger River Basin, Morocco and Kenya. Talking about the importance of the plan, Laura Tuck, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, pointed out that by 2050, 40% of the global population will be living in water-scarce countries, up from 28% now.

“Water scarcity and variability pose significant risks to all economic activities, including food and energy production, manufacturing and infrastructure development,” Tuck said. “Poor water management can exacerbate the effects of climate change on economic growth, but if water is managed well it can go a long way to neutralizing the negative impacts.”

Global plans

Nine countries in the Niger basin have launched a 10-year investment plan to strengthen resilience to climate change, with financial support from the World Bank and other multilateral lending organisations. They have committed to a US$3.1 billion plan.

Jordan, Lebanon, Monaco, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia have made a seven-year commitment under the Mediterranean Water Platform to assess the state and trends of water resources, supported by the European Commission.

Morocco, which will host the next climate summit, has started a project to increase resilience of the agriculture sector through improved irrigation practices. The World Bank is supporting it with a new $150 million commitment. It will help poor and vulnerable farmers with more efficient irrigation technologies so they can cope with increasingly less available water and greater variability in water supplies.

In Mombasa, the coastal region of Kenya, water demands largely exceed supply, with climate variability, droughts and floods taking its toll on poor people. The World Bank and its associates are funding a significant portion of a $500 million government programme to boost water security and build climate resilience.

Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia have started a programme calledEcocuencas, under which they have made a three-year commitment to a financial mechanism for adaptation to climate change in river basins, supported by the European commission.

China has made a three-year commitment to improve management of the Hai river basin, supported by France.

A hydrological and meteorological monitoring programme that will benefit over 160 million people is being started in the Congo Basin in central Africa.

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