Water considered main climate change challenge at UN talks: Expert

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Marrakech, Nov 9 (IANS) Water has been considered as a main climate change challenge for the first time at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP), international think tank World Water Council has said here.

"In Marrakech, it is the first time in COP's history that water is put at the top of the agenda," an official statement quoting World Water Council Honorary President Loic Fauchon said on Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event organised in the Moroccan pavilion on the sidelines of the COP22 talks, he commended the efforts spearheaded by Moroccan King Mohammed VI enabling water to be considered as the main climate change challenge at the ongoing talks.

Fauchon noted that adapting the water sector to climate change requires a three-pronged approach smartly combining finance, governance and knowledge and recommended the inclusion in the "Blue Book on Water and Climate" of the solutions that will be developed in COP22.

Speaking on the occasion, Morocco's Minister Delegate in Charge of Water Charafat Afilal said climate change takes a toll on the water cycle impacting the ecosystems of societies and hindering the achievement of sustainable development goals in Africa.

She highlighted Morocco's international advocacy for global action to counter the devastating impacts of climate change on the water sector, saying that the momentum witnessed in terms of enhancing water resilience has been strengthened at COP21.

The side event was also an occasion for the ministers in charge of water of Burkina Faso and Chad to shed light on the challenges facing their respective countries in fighting climate change effects on water.

Chad's Minister Sidick Abdelkerim Haggar deplored that Lake Chad was shrinking at a dramatic rate as a result of severe droughts causing rural flight and threatening the lives of about 30 million people who depend on its water.

Other participants drew a link between water scarcity inflicted by climate change and geopolitical conflicts resulting from the disagreements over managing water scarcity in some shared rivers.

World Bank's report "High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy" finds that water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could hinder economic growth, spur migration, and spark conflict.

However, it says, most countries can neutralize the adverse impacts of water scarcity by taking action to allocate and use water resources more efficiently.

The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties and the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12) are scheduled to be held in Bab Ighli in Marrakech till November 18.

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