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Water Resources Entering Agenda of UN Climate Talks, Mexico Says

Water resources have been explicitly highlighted in a United Nations draft text that may shape a future climate-change treaty, according to a Mexican official.

A UN panel known as the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice has “agreed to discuss the impacts of climate change on water resources,” Elias Freig, manager of carbon finance and economics of climate change of Mexico´s National Water Commission, said in an interview yesterday.

Freig is among delegates from almost 200 countries meeting in Bonn this week to advance negotiations over a global climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Nations agreed in Cancun, Mexico, last December to set up the so-called Green Fund to channel climate aid to developing nations. This year, envoys are devising a governance structure and rules for how it will collect and disburse payments.

“This will bring attention to water issues and the hope that, in the future, when the Green Fund has been established and the rules on how it will work are decided on, funds can be directed towards water-related projects linked to climate change,” he said. Such projects could include desalination plants, coastal defenses and hydro-power stations, he said.

Ecuador put the issue of water on the radar of UN climate negotiations during the COP-16 meeting in Cancun last December, Freig said.

“Climate change expresses itself as water through droughts and floods,” Freig said. “Climate change is about water change. Water has to be brought into the climate-change agenda; it must come under the UNFCCC.”

This week’s talks in Bonn will pave the way for a meeting of the annual Conference of Parties, the official decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It meets from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 in Durban, South Africa.

The Bonn talks cover issues such as mandatory commitments to cut emissions by developed countries, voluntary actions by developing countries, financial aid to poorer countries and the development of new markets to reduce carbon emissions.

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