Transboundary water cooperation as a means to address climate change

Transboundary water cooperation as a means to address climate change

A policy brief of the Transboundary Water Cooperation Coalition to inform climate discussions and negotiations at COP28 and beyond Water resources globally are suffering from climate change impacts. At the same time, water resources and associated ecosystems provide a significant potential for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Freshwater was thus for the first time included in the COP27 cover decision which “emphasizes the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring water and water-related ecosystems, including river basins, aquifers and lakes, and urges Parties to further integrate water into adaptation efforts.”1 An additional challenge, but also an opportunity, is that transboundary waters account for 60 per cent of the world’s freshwater flows and more than 3 billion people depend on them. The resources and people in many transboundary basins are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

The 6th IPCC assessment (2022)2 and the IPCC synthesis (2023)3 reports recognize transboundary risks as an important challenge resulting in the rise of new and unexpected types of risks. They state that increasing transboundary risks are projected across the food, energy and water sectors requiring climate-informed transboundary management. Effective and sustainable cooperation over the world’s transboundary lakes, rivers and aquifers is a critical yet often underexploited facet of climate change adaptation strategies. Below are some ways that advancing transboundary cooperation can support climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

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