"Water and its availability and quality will be the main pressures on, and issues for, societies and the environment under climate change"
(IPCC Technical paper "Climate Change and water", June 2008)
In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on adapting to climate change which presents the framework for adaptation measures and policies to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
The White Paper highlights the need "to promote strategies which increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems.“
The accompanying Impact assessment and the Policy paper on Water, Coasts and Marine issues provide an in-depth analysis of the role of water and ecosystems in the transmission of potential climate change impacts to the economy and society. The IA also describes the potential for ecosystem-based adaptation approaches and the need to properly assess the environmental impact of adaptation measures and policies.
As part of the actions included in the White Paper, Water Directors of EU Member States adopted in December 2009 a Guidance document on adaptation to climate change in water management to ensure that the River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) are climate-proofed.
As a next step, the Commission will present by 2012 a 'Blueprint to Safeguard European Waters', which, together with the analysis of all plans for 110 river basin districts, will perform a review of the Strategy for Water Scarcity and Droughts and of the vulnerability of water and environmental resources to climate change and man-made pressures.
It will assess the need for further measures to enhance water efficiency in agriculture, households and buildings.
Successful adaptation to the impacts of climate change on water depends not just on effective national and European water regulations, but also on the extent to which water management can be integrated into other sectoral policies such as agriculture, energy, cohesion and health.
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