Monthly Archives: January 2013

Meeting of the Water Community on the Margins of the Post 2015 High Level Panel, Liberia

In Liberia this week, more than 50 representatives of governments, civil society, youth and different regional organizations are debating water in the post-2015 development framework. Top-line messages from these discussions will be distilled and presented to the High Level Panel in a face to face meeting on the 30th January.

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Andean glaciers melting at ‘unprecedented’ rates


Andean glaciers are retreating at their fastest rates in more than 300 years, according to a new study


Climate change could melt the Andean glaciers away altogether in coming years, says the new study. Photograph: Dan Chung

Climate change has shrunk Andean glaciers between 30 and 50% since the 1970s and could melt many of them away altogether in coming years, according to a study published on Tuesday in the journal The Cryosphere.

Andean glaciers, a vital source of fresh water for tens of millions of South Americans, are retreating at their fastest rates in more than 300 years, according to the most comprehensive review of Andean ice loss so far.

The study included data on about half of all Andean glaciers in South America, and blamed the ice loss on an average temperature rise of 0.7 degree Celsius over the past 70 years.

“Glacier retreat in the tropical Andes over the last three decades is unprecedented,” said Antoine Rabatel, the lead author of the study and a scientist with the Laboratory for Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics in Grenoble, France.

The researchers also warned that future warming could totally wipe out the smaller glaciers found at lower altitudes that store and release fresh water for downstream communities.

“This is a serious concern because a large proportion of the population lives in arid regions to the west of the Andes,” said Rabatel.

The Chacaltaya glacier in the Bolivian Andes, once a ski resort, has already disappeared completely, according to some scientists.

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International Events related to Water Cooperation


UN-Water Annual Conference in Zaragoza – Water Cooperation, Making it Happen!
8-10 January 2013 | Zaragoza, Spain

In the framework of the International Year of Water Cooperation, the UN-Water Conference in Zaragoza will focus on effective ways to make cooperation happen in the water domain. It will in particular identify the best approaches to promote effective cooperation at different levels, and reflect on how to ‘do better’ in water cooperation. The conference will look at critical factors of success, challenges, and barriers based on cases of effective cooperation.
Visit the Conference’s web page at

Kick-off Meeting of the International Year of Water Cooperation
11 February 2013 | UNESCO HQ – Paris, France
A launch event will be held at UNESCO to kick-start the International Year of Water Cooperation. On this occasion, the best slogan selected through the Water Cooperation 2013 Slogan Contest will be announced and adopted, and its author will be awarded.

World Water Day
22 March 2013 | The Hague, The Netherlands – New York, USA and worldwide
The World Water Day represents a culminating moment during the International Year of Water Cooperation. Celebrations for the World Water Day will take place around the world on the theme of water cooperation. The main event will take place in The Netherlands, hosted by the Dutch Government and coordinated by UNESCO and UNECE with the support of UN-Water Members and Partners. A High-Level Interactive Dialogue of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly will also be convened in New York on 22 March 2013 to mark the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation and the twentieth anniversary of the proclamation of World Water Day.

High-Level International Conference on Water Cooperation
August 2013 | Dushanbe, Tajikistan

World Water Week
1-6 September 2013 | Stockholm, Sweden
This yearly appointment for water practitioners from around the world in 2013 will be entirely dedicated to Water Cooperation. Visit the website at

Budapest Water Summit
October 2013 | Budapest, Hungary
Building on Hungary’s achievements during its Presidency of the EU in 2011, the Hungarian Government selected the issue of water as its top priority in the run up to and at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012. To follow up the conclusions of the Conference Mr János Áder, the President of Hungary, announced in Rio de Janeiro Hungary’s intention to organise a major international water event (Budapest World Water Summit) in October 2013. With the participation of UN Member States, competent UN agencies and bodies as well as all concerned economic and social partners the Summit aims to contribute to the elaboration of the water-related Sustainable Development Goals and provide concrete guidance on the most pressing water issues – drinking water, sanitation, waste water treatment, integrated water management, international water cooperation, innovative water technologies – with a view to defining the priorities of global development policy post 2015.
Visit the website at:

Water, food and energy: the trilemma facing the 21st century


Felix von Geyer, freelance sustainable development journalist

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) warning in November’s World Energy Outlook that water demand would outstrip energy demand two-fold highlighted the scale of water-energy nexus.

The reality is more complex.

“Energy, food and water is the trilemma facing the twenty-first century,” Dr Anne Kerr, Regional Director for Asia with engineering consultant Mott MacDonald, told a break-out session at last February’s KPMG’s Rio+20 Business Summit.

Traditional water-energy nexus thinking highlights the mutual importance of water and conventional energy. Energy is fundamental to collect, transport, distribute and treat water. Water is essential to extract, process and refine fossil fuels.

In the US, half of water withdrawals are for energy, including cooling nuclear and thermal power plants that also contribute thermal pollution by returning hot water to waterways, causing blue-green algal bloom.

The onset of climate change further exacerbates the interconnectivity of the energy-water nexus. Water shortages have the potential to cause power shutdowns – most famously in France during the hot summer of 2003 where nuclear plants were closed as river levels were too low to cool the plants – and droughts in US, China and India can cripple hydro-electricity output.

Water scarcity limits exploitation of China’s shale gas reserves and, in the US, constrains development of the Bakken oil and gas formation – currently providing independence from foreign oil imports.

Critically, a global population expansion to 9 billion people by 2050, coupled with increased economic growth, will intensify competition for water, as well as increasing the need for food and energy, creating a trilemma for 21st century society to resolve.

The Water Resource Group’s 2009 report ‘Charting our Water Future’ predicted a global water gap of 40% between demand and accessible water by 2030 and that water consumption is set to rise from 4,500 billion cubic metres to 6,900 billion cubic metres with no change to business as usual practices and policies, such as improved ‘crop per drop’ irrigation and rain-fed measures.

Agriculture accounts for 71% of current total global water withdrawals. A 50% population increase will exponentially increase agricultural output, requiring more water and energy through fertilisers, harvesting and processing. India could double water consumption through to 2030 to 1.5 trillion cubic metres, leaving the country with a 50% water gap.

Anticipating any substantially positive impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in developing plants that combine higher energy content with reduced water consumption is difficult.

This water gap presents the opportunity for water-rich countries, such as Canada, to address how to maximise its freshwater resources to provide ‘virtual’ water through intensive products and commodities to water scarce countries, according to Bob Sandford, Chairman of the UN’s Water for Life Decade.

Current energy trends exacerbate the trilemma. Average global temperature increases of 3.6°C are likely, warned the IEA. The current global energy infrastructure will contribute 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions necessary to reach a 2°C warming, the threshold of serious climate change predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And the US Third National Climate Assessment released this January suggested extreme scenarios could lead to a temperature increase of more than 5°C by the end of the century, causing cataclysmic climate change by IPCC projections.

Moving from this current energy trend is problematic. Fossil fuels are projected to comprise 80% of global energy demand to 2035 with current policies. A shifting of fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy subsidies could see renewable energy supply over 60% of demand, say the IEA.

From a water perspective, this energy shift could be advantageous. Energy’s water dependency accounted for 15% – 583 billion cubic metres – of global water withdrawals in 2010. While only 66 billion cubic metres are not returned to source, energy-related water withdrawals are anticipated to increase by 20% by 2035, with a dramatic 85% increase in consumption. The rate of water not returned to source would almost double to 120 billion cubic metres.

In contrast, the use of renewable energies to 2035 is predicted to increase water consumption by only 4% although some technologies – such as concentrated solar power, which generates steam to drive turbines, as is the case in the proposed Desertec project – would be more water intensive than others. Tackling climate change through measures such as carbon capture storage could also prove to be water intensive.

But energy is vital to humanity and development. Worldwide 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity, while 2.6 billion people use traditional biomass for cooking.

Does the world need to rely on fossil-fuels to bridge this energy gap?

Jacobson and Delucchi’s study in the March 2011 edition of Energy Policy suggested wind, water and sunlight (WWS) can provide all new energy to 2030 and replace pre-existing energy sources by 2050.

Society, industry, governments and investors have to wake up to the reality surrounding food, energy and water – and fast. There are alternatives to fossil fuels but there are no alternatives to food, or freshwater.

original source:

SIWI launches project to strengthen farmers’ resilience to climate change in Viet Nam


Jan 22, 2013 | Category:2013MediaTheme: Climate

Stockholm, Sweden (January 22 2013) – Viet Nam is at risk of becoming one of the most adversely affected countries by climate change, which could seriously affect the country’s booming economic growth. To help address this issue, SIWI launches a bilateral project to “strengthen farmers’ resilience to climate change in the Mekong and Red River deltas of Viet Nam.”

Current trends show that climate change will result in a significant temperature increase leading to sea level rise, increased water and soil salinity, and dramatic changes in weather and flood patterns. Increased precipitation during rainy season and drought during the rest of the year are among the current trends observed by national agro-meteorologists and the international research community.

The potential impacts of climate change are likely to be serious for agricultural production, and the availability of water resources will be less certain and more variable. As 80-90 percent of the population depends on agriculture, a majority of the population will be vulnerable to these potential impacts. Low land fish and rice farming support the livelihoods of millions of Vietnamese, and are key for both national food security and the economy. Viet Nam is the second largest rice exporter in the world.

Understanding that “climate change is water change,” the Vietnamese Association for the Conservation of Nature (VACNE) and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) launches a project to improve current knowledge and documentation of the impacts of climate change on the farming communities in both key deltas. The project is partially funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and aims at helping the country increase the resilience of its farming communities by synthesising international research with field information on this topic, and eventually raise awareness among farmers, and building capacities of water management practitioners at government agencies on how to address climate change.

During 2013, the project will pilot in three provinces, namely, Vinh Long in the Mekong Delta, and Ha Nam and Thai Binh in the Red River Delta. Farmers in these provinces will gather information on hydro-climatic hazards and local responses, which will be used to raise awareness on the potential implications of climate change, as well as the response methods that the community already possesses to address those risks. The programme will focus on empowering farmers by helping them articulate their concerns and need for support from the international community and national government working on climate adaptation policy in order to enhance resilience at the local level.

The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is a policy institute that generates knowledge and informs decision-making towards water wise policy and sustainable development. SIWI performs research, builds institutional capacity and provides advisory services in five thematic areas: water governance, transboundary water management, water and climate change, the water-energy-food nexus, and water economics. SIWI organises the World Water Week in Stockholm – the leading annual global meeting place on water and development issues – and hosts the Stockholm Water Prize, the Stockholm Junior Water Prize and the Stockholm Industry Water Award.

The Viet Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment (VACNE) is an NGO and a member organisation connecting Vietnamese expertise from inside and outside the country in the field of nature conservation and environmental protection in Viet Nam. With its broad network, VACNE is deemed as the best possible local partner for the implementation of this project. VACNE has access to Vietnamese researchers, authorities, and organisations that are imperative for the successful implementation of this project. They also maintain a very high level of integrity and credibility in pursuing such efforts, and have had experience dealing with Swedish organisations in implementing other projects in the past. VACNE is ideally setup to take the prime communication role with the local communities, and thereby both assess the perceived needs and desires. VACNE combines long standing experience from environmental work, with excellent knowledge on socio-economic conditions and pre-requisites on local community level.

Inception Workshop
The Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment (VACNE), Vietnam and Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), will co-organise the Inception Workshop to launch the project on January 22-23, 2013 at the Sunway Hotel, 19 Pham Dinh Ho str., Hanoi, Vietnam.

This workshop will present the preliminary findings of the project on the current impacts of climate change and the status of adaptation measures in Viet Nam. Priorities to address climate change in Vietnam and the role of this project from the Vietnamese perspective will be discussed. The outcome of the session will be taken into account by the PDC partnership during the further implementation stage of the project. Key experts from relevant fields as well as representatives of local beneficiaries are expected to participate.

For further information about the workshop, kindly contact us at: VACNE,, +84 983761714, or Event Organiser support: Vietnet-ict,, +84 989146114.

At SIWI, please contact for more information.