By Thabani Okwenjani
HARARE, 5 June 2012 - The Southern African Development Community's protocol on shared watercourses is recognised as one of the world's best. But sound agreements on the sustainable and equitable management of joint water resources require effective means to implement them.
Water officials from across Southern Africa are meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Jun 5-6 to develop a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the regional agreement.
SADC's 2003 Revised Protocol on Shared Watercourses stresses a basin-wide approach to managing transboundary waters, rather than an emphasis on territorial sovereignty. It spells out the objectives of sound management as including coordinated management, sustainable use, and environmental protection.
The river basin organisations that are holding their fifth meeting in Harare are charged with promoting equitable use, setting out strategies for the development of shared rivers and lakes, and developing a policy for monitoring shared watercourses.
Armed conflict over water has long been predicted; most recently the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence said such wars would break out within the next decade. But although many parts of the region are already facing water stress, SADC expects its numerous transboundary watercourses to be the basis of closer cooperation rather than conflict.
"They say the next wars will be fought over water," Dr Kenneth Msibi told IPS in Harare, " but with these agreements, we are making sure that water will instead be an instrument of peace."
For the complete article, please see IPS.
By Nita Bhalla
NEW DELHI, 23 May 2012 - Ten Asian cities prone to floods, droughts or soaring temperatures are developing a set of key indicators to assess their vulnerability to the effects of climate change and improve urban planning to boost resilience.
Municipalities and environmental groups in India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam will analyse indicators such as capacity of their water supply systems, incidence of waterlogging and rainfall projections, to provide the first ever climate change-specific urban development data.
The project, run by the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), aims to mainstream such indicators into the cities' overall development strategy, putting climate change impact at the forefront of urban planning as rapid urbanisation takes effect.
"From this year onwards, these pilot cities in Asia will be demonstrating the practical value of these indicators in improving the climate resilience of these cities," said Stephen Tyler, senior associate at the U.S.-based Institute for Social Change and Environmental Transition, a partner organisation working on the project.
"Once that happens, they can serve as models for other cities in these countries and elsewhere to adopt."
The cities include India's flood-prone Surat in the west, Gorakhpur in the north, as well as centrally located Indore, which suffers water scarcity during its scorching summer season.
For the complete article, please see AlertNet.
Nawaz Sharif has called for Pakistan to be sensible and to withdraw its troops from Siachen. This is the first time I can think of a mainstream Pakistani politician (and former prime minister) calling for a troop withdrawal with respect to India.
For a number of years now, several academics and environmental activists, have been arguing that the environment can be an effective means of conflict resolution. Specifically, he has been advocating for both sides to declare the Siachen Glacier a peace park. He is not alone. Civil society, opinion makers and academics from around the world have been advocating the same.
The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas has nearly 200 transboundary protected areas. The UNESCO world heritage list identifies important natural heritage. There are also numerous examples of transboundary management of contiguous protected areas where countries have joined hands for the preservation of the environment. There are too many instances to list here, but noteworthy examples are the cooperatively managed Indian Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary and Rann of Kutch Wildlife Sanctuaries. Even Israel, Egypt and Jordan have recognised the paramount importance of the environment and have agreed to jointly manage the marine ecosystem near the Sharm-el Sheikh Peninsula.
There is good reason to be concerned about the environment in Siachen. It is the world’s largest non-polar glacier and sits — along with the other glaciers of the Hindukush, Karakoram and the Himalayan ranges — on the earth’s Third Pole: the waters of these glaciers provide food and drinking water to nearly one billion people. Both India and Pakistan are extremely vulnerable to climate change and face similar food and water security issues. Meanwhile, Siachen has turned into the world’s highest waste dump as none of the supplies, food, oil, equipment — and quite often soldiers — ever return.