Entry Points for Water

Legal assistance paper

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Date produced: 02/12/2011

1. Is there a better place for discussion on water as a cross-cutting issue, taking into account mitigation as well as adaptation tracks, than where it is (i.e. within the SBSTA in relation to adaptation)?

2. What is the most appropriate forum to discuss water in relation to mitigation?

3. With respect to how water relates to the CDM, which forum is most appropriate for discussions on water (i.e. which CDM working group(s), panel(s) or team(s) within the CDM governance structure, or which other bodies/groups/subgroups outside the CDM governance structure are the most appropriate forum)?

4. With respect to the relation between water and energy what is the most appropriate forum for the discussion?

5. With relation to REDD, is there explicit mention of water already? If yes, where and if no, what might the entry points for water in this discussion be?

Summary

In addition to discussions under the SBSTA agenda item on the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP), impacts on water resources could also be raised in the adaptation discussions in the AWG-LCA on enhanced action on adaptation (agenda item 3.3).

The contribution that water projects make to mitigation could be raised in the AWG-LCA items on developed and developing country nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) seeking a recognition of the role of renewable energy (including hydro) to mitigation.

There are already a number of methodologies to facilitate the development of water related CDM projects. In order to promote more water related projects, it may be possible to lobby national government’s, in particular the Designated National Authorities (DNA’s) to include specific references to promote water projects as part of their host country sustainable development criteria.

Discussion about including more explicit references to the role of forests in protecting water resources could occur in the AWG-LCA discussions on REDD+ safeguards.

Advice

Cross cutting:

Water and climate change is a cross cutting issue that has largely been addressed through work programmes on adaptation. To the extent that water resources and water dependent ecosystems are affected by climate change and strategies are needed to respond to those impacts, the adaptation programmes are an appropriate place to discuss water management.

In addition to discussions under the SBSTA agenda item on the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP), impacts on water resources could also be raised in the adaptation discussions in the AWG-LCA on enhanced action on adaptation (agenda item 3.3).

To the extent that countries facing severe water stress, or that have opportunities for improved water management as least developed countries, then the role of water management can be raised in discussions on National Adaptation Plans. Many LDCs have already included climate change impacts on water as priority areas in their NAPs.

Mitigation / CDM / Water and Energy:

The contribution that water projects make to mitigation, in particular water as a renewable energy resources is well known. Whilst not expressly discussed in agenda items on mitigation in specific terms, the assessment of mitigation potential, which informs both developed and developing countries NAMAs will usually refer to the use of renewable energy and may include renewable energy targets (which will include hydro-power if appropriate).  In terms of expanding discussions on the contribution water makes, it could be raised under the AWG-LCA agenda items on developed and developing country NAMAs (items 3.2.1 and 3.2.2) seeking a recognition of the role of renewable energy (including hydro) to mitigation.

There are already a number of methodologies to facilitate the development of water related CDM projects (see for example ACM 0002 grid connected renewable energy; AM0020 water pumping efficiency; AM0086 water purification). Under the CDM Rules (the Marrakesh Accords) it is a matter for project developers to submit new projects and methodologies, and not for the CDM Executive Board (EB) or other advisory bodies to do so. Methodological issues are only brought to the CMP where they relate to controversial project types that the EB needs further guidance on (e.g. CCS in the CDM or HFC 23 projects). Whilst some hydro projects may be controversial (e.g. large-scale projects with potentially adverse social and environmental impacts), their approval on sustainable development criteria remains at the discretion of the host country. The EB will only assess whether the project is consistent with an approved methodology. It then becomes a matter for the market to discriminate between projects it considers environmentally sound or otherwise (e.g. the EU ETS Rules regarding large hydro projects to be consistent with the World Commission on Dams Guidelines).

In order to promote more water related projects, it may be possible to lobby national government’s, in particular the Designated National Authorities (DNA’s) to include specific references to promote water projects as part of their host country sustainable development criteria.

To the extent that the AWG-LCA is considering other approaches to the use of markets for cost-effective mitigation (item 3.2.5), there may be scope to raise the role of hydro projects under these mechanisms, in particular as part of NAMA crediting, where renewable energy forms a component of a country’s NAMA.

REDD+:

Water is not directly addressed in the REDD+ negotiations, except with respect to the role that forests play in watershed protection and the need to develop safeguards to ensure the environmental and social integrity of projects. Discussion about including more explicit references to the role of forests in protecting water resources could occur in the AWG-LCA discussions on REDD+ safeguards (included in item 3.2.3).