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Eugene Stakhiv Speaks at United Nations Water and Climate Change Workshop

Published June 1, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, VA – June 1, 2010. Dr. Eugene Stakhiv spoke at the Workshop on Water and Climate Change in Transboundary Basins at the invitation of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Dr. Stakhiv discussed the results of climate adaptation studies and how decisions were being implemented by the International Joint Commission (IJC) in their management of the Great Lakes. Held May 10-12, 2010, the three-day workshop was a multinational event with over 40 nations in attendance. Nearly 30 other international agencies and nongovernment organizations (NGOs), as well as several international river basin management agencies, presented information on their approaches to and plans for implementing climate change analysis and adaptation.

Dr. Stakhiv has been involved as an expert in the development of the recent UNECE "Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change" (2010), which will be tested in several pilot studies by the member states. With a focus on transboundary contexts, the Guidance explains step-by-step how to jointly develop an adaptation strategy. The Guidance is rooted in the concept of integrated water resources management. It provides advice to decision makers and water managers on how to assess impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality, how to perform risk assessment (including health risk assessment), how to gauge vulnerability, and how to design and implement appropriate adaptation strategies jointly.

Dr. Stakhiv is co-director of the current five-year IJC Upper Great Lakes Study, and was co-director of the predecessor Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study. Both studies have developed path-breaking methods for analytically dealing with considerable climate change uncertainty and practical approaches to adaptive management in response to short- and long-term climate change and variability.

More about UNECE

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is a key driving force in combating climate change in the pan-European region and beyond. The UNECE region comprises 56 member states, spanning the whole European continent, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and also including Israel, Turkey, Canada and the United States. UNECE has spearheaded the region's efforts to achieve the targets of United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7, especially to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and to reverse the losses of environmental resources.

The intrinsic relation of the hydrological cycle – and thus water availability, quality, and services – to climate change makes adaptation critical for water management and the water sector in general. The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) is an important legal framework for the development of adaptation strategies, in particular in the transboundary context.

More about the Guidance

At their fourth meeting in Bonn, Germany, in 2006, the Parties to the Water Convention took a decisive step to supporting the development of adaptation strategies by agreeing to elaborate a guidance document on water and adaptation to climate change. The draft, prepared by the Task Forces on Water and Climate and on Extreme Weather Events, marks the first attempt under any convention to flesh out a climate change adaptation strategy in the water sector with a particular emphasis on transboundary issues.

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