The Policy & Practice of Climate Change & Water

The Adventures of Polo the Bear: A Story of Climate Change

This guest blog was written by Alan Hesse, author of the forthcoming book ‘The Adventures of Polo the Bear: a story of climate change’
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Polo says hello
My name is Polo, and I’m a polar bear. I’m an unusual sort of polar bear, because I can speak and understand human languages, I can walk on two legs, I wear a captain’s cap, I know how to sail a boat, and I use rational thinking to get me places.

You’ll hopefully all get to know me soon, and my adventures around the world, thanks to this new book I appear in. It’s actually a comic book, and it’s called ‘The Adventures of Polo the Bear: a story of climate change’.

My creator, Alan Hesse, is one of those guys who’s not really sure what he is, or where he’s from. I’d like to add he also doesn’t know what he’s doing sometimes, but that wouldn’t be a very useful comment right now. What I do know about Alan though is that he cares passionately about the natural world – polar bears and our Arctic home included. I also know he is a wildlife conservationist and cartoonist. You may think this is a very odd job description, I certainly think so. What does conservation biology have to do with cartoons, right?! But Alan is very adamant about the two things actually going really well together; he says that in ancient times, art and science were joined, and that modern people have segregated them too much. He says he believes that there is also way too much information out there these days, that because of it, people actually get swamped and tend to shut down to important information, like on climate change for example.

That’s why he created this book, and me as the main character.
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Forests and Wetlands Are Water Infrastructure. New Green Bond Helps Finance Their Protection

This article was written by Todd Gartner, Manager of WRI's Natural Infrastructure for Water, and John Matthews, AGWA's Coordinator.
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East Africa’s Kariba Dam is almost empty due to diminishing rains. In Brazil, Sao Paulo’s reservoirs were reduced to dried mud three years ago, and experts say the city is heading toward another dry spell. Catastrophic floods recently wreaked havoc in southern England, Texas and Bangkok.

These are not simply one-off events; they represent systemic failures in water infrastructure development — failures that are increasing in frequency and severity as Earth’s climate shifts.

A new financial mechanism—“green bonds” that pay for using ecosystems as “natural infrastructure” for clean, ample water—can help.

To find out more about the Water Infrastructure Criteria of the Climate Bonds Standard, read the
Joint Press Release in the AGWA Blog or visit CBI's website. From there you can download the Standard and other helpful documents. Read More...
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Water we doing about water?

This article was written by Susanna Tol (Wetlands International) and Ingrid Timboe (AGWA).
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Did you know that the answer can be found in nature? Nature-based solutions such as restoring mangrove buffers in degraded coastal areas or preserving peatlands have the potential to solve many of our climate and water challenges, reduce vulnerability and help us adapt to a changing climate. Commemorated this year with the theme ‘Nature for Water’, World Water Day 2018 urged people to explore nature-based solutions to contemporary water problems. And UN Water focused its World Water Development Report on Nature Based Solutions for Water stating that today, more than ever, we must work with nature, instead of against it. We highlight this topic at the ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ (6 May, Bonn) to enhance ambitions on water and wetlands under the Paris Agreement through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and other long-term strategies which provide key entry-points to discuss national targets, set policies and create cross-sectoral collaboration.
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4 things to know about the ‘Omnipresent’ youth at the World Water Forum 8!

This guest blog was written by Shabana Abbas of the Water Youth Network.
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Water Youth Network (WYN), one of the leading global networks of young water professionals and students was at the recent 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia. We seized this opportunity to demonstrate the potential of young professionals and the meaningful contributions that they are making or can make in the water world and beyond.

In the words of one of our senior partners in the water sector, ‘We were impressed by the omnipresence of Water Youth Network at the forum and would like to see how we can further strengthen our partnership with them’.

So, here are four things you need to know about youth’s contribution at the forum: Read More...
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Can climate change be a personal crisis as well as an institutional or technical one?

This guest blog is written by Ingrid Timboe, a member of the AGWA Secretariat.
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Born in the 1980s, I grew up during a time of increasing climate awareness as the concept of human-induced climate change moved out of obscurity and into the mainstream. I have no trouble believing what the science tells us: that global warming is real, it’s here, and it will continue to impact our planet in varying ways for decades if not centuries. But it wasn’t until a few years ago, listening to a piece of music for solo piano entitled “Elegy for the Arctic” by Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi, that I fully connected with the reality of climate change and what it means for us and for our planet. As I listened and later watched the video of Einaudi playing this beautiful composition floating in front of Norway’s Wahlenbergbreen glacier, I felt profound sorrow for what is happening. At the same time, his music moved me to feel an even deeper commitment to keep working.

Nearly everything about climate change – from the name itself to the global phenomena it generates – is maddeningly complex, broad, and impersonal. For example, it is rather difficult to elicit strong emotions or personal connection with words and phrases like “CO₂ concentration,” “mitigation,” or “general circulation models.” But strong emotions are precisely what is required to respond to the very real and present threats associated with a changing climate.
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Follow-Up from "Tools for Urban Climate Adaptation" Workshop in Turku, Finland

This guest blog was written by Pilar Meseguer, iWater Project Coordinator in the City of Turku.
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On 29 November 2017 we had a training workshop on urban climate change adaptation (CA) in Turku, Finland. As iWater project coordinator in the city of Turku, I am already working on stormwater management and CA issues, so I immediately thought that the training could help me a lot. We are already experiencing climate change effects in the region of Turku. Winters seem to be warmer and shorter, with less snow and more rain events.

The training workshop surpassed my expectations. It was very interesting, all the way from the presentation of the Finnish National Adaptation Plan by Saara Lilja-Rothsten from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to the case of Pori presented by Matti Lankiniemi, special supervisor of the city of Pori.

When planning the development of new areas in the city we do not know how to take into account the uncertainties of the future related to climate change. We need more information about methodologies that can help us develop resilient and flexible adaptive measures. That is why the most useful part for me was the new methodology CRIDA introduced by John Matthews from Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) and Ad Jeuken from the Research Institute Deltares. I plan to use CRIDA within the iWater project. I am now trying to include the methodology in the Integrated Stormwater Management (ISWM) system that we are developing in iWater.

Unfortunately we are dealing with complex situations which need complex approaches and methodologies that exceed the knowledge of specialists in the city of Turku. It is still difficult to say whether there should be more training on those issues for municipal officers or if we should use external expert help. Probably the combination of both is the optimal solution.
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AGWA Participating in SNAPP Project on Connections Between Land Use Management and Downstream Flows

This guest blog was written by Kari Vigerstol, Director of Water Security Science and Innovation at the Nature Conservancy.
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AGWA will be participating as an implementation partner in a two-year Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) project that will explore the connections between land use management and downstream flows. This work is critical for increasing our understanding of the scale of impact we can have on mitigating high and low flows through conservation activities such as forest protection, reforestation, agricultural best management practices and others. The driving question that the working group will address is: to what extent, and under what circumstances, can source water protection activities be expected to produce meaningful baseflow, groundwater recharge, and flood impacts, both under current and future climate conditions? The project is being jointly led by The Nature Conservancy1, the Natural Capital Project and Conservation International, with implementing partners AGWA and Forest Trends.
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Getting to Know the UNESCO Ecohydrology Networking Platform

This guest blog was written by Giuseppe Arduino, Chief Ecohydrology, Water Quality, & Water Education Section at UNESCO-IHP.
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The UNESCO Ecohydrology networking platform (web platform; http://ecohydrology-ihp.org) aims to provide access to the information exchange network and the procedure of data sharing and make data on demonstration sites available to all. It is also being designed to be a portal to inform on general ecohydrological events, conferences and seminars, funding opportunities for project proposals and to host the criteria and guidelines and online application to become a UNESCO Ecohydrology programme demonstration site.

The web platform contains a “Demosite Card” for each site, a harmonized/normalised and simplified visualisation of the main characteristics, achievements and results obtained by each demo sites and represented in a one-page format. The results obtained by the demonstration sites are seen as key milestones for the monitoring of indicators to comply with the 2030 Agenda, with reference to SDG 6 on water.
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Life-hacking water challenges: making low energy, low carbon utilities happen

This guest blog was written by Eva Promes, Programmes Officer, Cities for the Future at the International Water Association (IWA).

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There is no shortage of challenges these days. The tiny day-to-day ones, such as untangling your earphones are easily relatable and normally resolved with a quick fix. Big global water challenges are a whole other story. The problems related to climate change are so big that often people struggle to grasp the solutions.
wind turbines


There seems no easy solution for achieving targets such as defined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or the National Determined Contributions (NDCs) that aim to limit the impacts of climate change. However, there is general consensus that time is running out to secure safe water and sanitation services for all. So what can we, in the water sector, do to bring these global targets within reach?
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Guest Blog | Announcement of US Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement: What are the Consequences?

This guest blog was written by Soléne Fabrégas, Program Officer and Coordinator of the Climate Working Group at the French Water Partnership. The article comes from FWP's Water & Climate News Digest.

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Following the dramatic announcement that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, concerns regarding the future of international negotiations and our capacity to combat climate change are greater than ever.

Although a number of reassuring speeches have indicated that such a decision could both encourage nations to take action and stimulate momentum in civil society, the negative consequences could be numerous:
  • From a symbolic point of view, the withdrawal from the agreement of the world’s second biggest producer of greenhouse gases gives out a very negative signal. Since Donald Trump’s election, the United States had already announced multiple measures that go against sustainable development and a low-carbon economy (e.g. drastic cuts in environmental credits, re-examination of the Clean Power Act, etc.). Now, however, the US President clearly intends to let the world know that he no longer wants to contribute to a joint effort that is nevertheless indispensible to respect international targets.
    By undoing the efforts made by Barack Obama’s administration to limit the USA’s production of greenhouse gases, the federal state is extinguishing the last hope of remaining under the 2°C threshold. As a reminder, the sum of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) submitted by nations for the Paris agreement currently corresponds to an estimated average temperature rise of between 2.7°C and 3.5°C by 2100. A significant revision and stepping up of nations’ ambitions is therefore crucial, rather than the opposite. In its latest note, the Comité 21 (network for all French actors working for sustainability) states “The impacts of this decision will really be felt after 2020 with a rise in emissions from coal, and a slow-down in the production of renewable energy due to a lack of incentives from the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency)”.
    The issue of funding is also crucial. Climate funds (adaptation funds, green funds, etc.) are vital tools to help countries initiate processes for energy transition and adapt to climate change. Although the USA’s promise to contribute 3 billion dollars to the Green Climate Fund may not seem like much, the withdrawal of this financing would have the effect of weakening a financial tool that already struggles to find resources. In addition to multilateral funding, we can also apprehend a drop in development aid from the United States, bearing in mind that numerous funded development projects also play a part in combating climate change and reducing vulnerabilities.
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