Sunday, February 7, 2010

Water at core of climate change impacts: experts

Reuters: The main impact of climate change will be on water supplies and the world needs to learn from past cooperation such as over the Indus or Mekong Rivers to help avert future conflicts, experts said on Sunday.

Desertification, flash floods, melting glaciers, heatwaves, cyclones or water-borne diseases such as cholera are among the impacts of global warming inextricably tied to water. And competition for supplies might cause conflicts. "The main manifestations of rising temperatures...are about water," said Zafar Adeel, chair of UN-Water which coordinates work on water among 26 U.N. agencies.

"It has an impact on all parts of our life as a society, on natural systems, habitats," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. Disruptions may threaten farming or fresh water supplies from Africa to the Middle East. "Therein lies the potential for conflicts," he said. Shortage of water, such as in Darfur in Sudan, has been a contributing factor to conflict.

But Adeel said that water had often proven a route for cooperation. India and Pakistan have worked to manage the Indus River despite border conflicts and Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia have cooperated in the Mekong River Commission.

"Water is a very good medium (for cooperation). It's typically an apolitical issue that can be dealt with," said Adeel, who is also director of the U.N. University's Canada-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health….

Water droplets on a leaf, shot by Jina Lee, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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