Question: What topics will be discussed during this new edition of the Latin America-Spain Water Dialogues?
Q: What are the most visible effects of climate change on water worldwide? What about in Latin America?
In the past fifteen years, floods have increased by more than 40% compared to the previous period, and droughts have been more intense
Q: How can we increase resilience to the effects of climate change?
A: The keys are prevention, planning, and a culture resilient to changes in climate. Because we observe extreme fluctuations in temperatures, humidity, precipitations and run-off, we require flexible and adaptive planning, involving all levels of government and society as a whole, that is, we need to establish effective water governance, with resilient populations and communities.
Regarding the institutional framework, we have examples of committees with participation from different sectors, created specifically to manage droughts and floods, as it occurs in Mexico. At the sub-national level, we have to first move forward in the creation of river basin councils or committees — and Spain is an excellent example to follow — so that within those entities, that include representatives from authorities, users and civil society, we can develop plans to manage droughts and to control flooding. They can involve grey and green infrastructure, management tools to deal with extreme cases, to delineate controlled flooding areas, to establish bans or tariffs during extreme events, etc. We also have to create a public culture of preservation and appreciation of water resources.
In the urban environment, the concept of resilient cities involves having appropriate basic services, to have water reserves and network connections to help during extreme events, and regulating informal settlements, for example preventing settlements in floodplains, which means those areas should be set aside for other uses. It also involves monitoring and early warning systems, emergency protocols and mechanisms to disseminate timely information to the public. The public, in turn, should share the responsibility of taking care of water resources; this will require intense work to raise awareness about the value of water, not only as a source of food and health, but as a cornerstone of sustainable development; without water there is no growth, nor can there be any progress.
Q: How does the CAF participate in the management of climate hazards in the region?
A: The CAF has a 2019-2022 Water Strategy, establishing the lines of work to reduce the risks of disasters caused by droughts and floods, and to develop policies and contribute to building the institutions for integrated water resource management. Both lines are consistent with the work of the CAF over the past few years: we have funded storm drainage systems in several cities of Brazil and Bolivia, as well as the construction of works to control flooding in Argentina and Ecuador. On the other hand, we provide support to several countries to build regulation dams to store water reserves that can be used during droughts. In fact, in Bolivia we have developed a programme to build small and medium size dams, aimed to increase climate resilience, and in Peru and Argentina we support integrated basin management, an approach that includes measures to adapt to climate change.