Have you added water management to your climate change mitigation solutions?
There is no question that we must take steps to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases. The challenge is to create ‘no regret’ mitigation solutions that will not punish the poor or compromise our capacity to grow food, fuel and the raw materials for the thousands of domestic, industrial and cultural products that drive our economies. Any adverse impacts on water will definitely be a cause for regret.
Examine the water implications of mitigation measures
Mitigation initiatives, like biofuel production, carbon sequestration and reforestation, have significant implications for agriculture and water management. Agricultural water management is part of the mitigation equation.
Action Item 1. Manage Water for Afforestation Reforestation
In 2005, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Clean Development Mechanism created carbon markets that are driving billions of dollars in investment into projects in afforestation and reforestation, tree plantations and agroforestry. The negative impacts of these initiatives on water availability and access are generally ignored.
Explore IWMI’s solutions for: Water balance and afforestation/reforestation – agriculture ecosystems and environment – carbon sequestration, land degradation and water management – conservation agriculture – water demand and supply accounting.
Action Item 2. Address the Energy Water Food Nexus
Biofuel production is increasing the demand for agricultural land, driving up food prices and providing incentives for more deforestation, at the expense of natural ecosystems. Growing crops for biofuels requires large quantities of water — already a major constraint to agriculture in many parts of the world. For every joule of energy we produce from biofuel to offset carbon, we pay a similar price in the amount of water used.
Explore IWMI’s solutions for: Energy subsidies and water management – institutional analysis – modeling water allocation
Action Item 3. Manage Dams for Mulipurpose Use
In our energy-hungry world, hydropower dams are back on the agenda, especially in Africa where less than 5% of the potential capacity has been tapped. Treating dams as multipurpose structures can multiply the mitigating effects.
Explore IWMI’s solutions for: Multiple use – multi-stakeholder dialogue – environmental flows – hydropower and irrigation – Integrated Water Resources Management – small reservoirs
Action Item 4. Measure Water Footprints
Just as every action, product or service has a carbon footprint, it also has a water footprint. Whenever we reduce our carbon footprint, we save water. Whenever we save water, we cut down on emissions of a range of greenhouse gases, not just carbon. We need to think in terms of two footprints, not just one.
Explore IWMI’s solutions for: Measuring water footprints – reducing water footprints – water productivity
Action Item 5. Reduce Food Waste
Nearly half the food we grow is wasted as it moves from fields to dinner tables. Wasted food is wasted water – hundreds of millions of liters. And since agriculture is such a heavy producer of greenhouse gases, reducing food waste also means reducing emissions.
Explore IWMI solutions for: Water productivity
Don’t stop now!
Learn more about IWMI solutions or talk about your ideas with:
Peter McCornick, Deputy Director General, p.mccornick [at] cgiar.org
Vladimir Smakhtin, Theme Leader Water Availability and Access, v.smakhtin [at] cgiar.org