Approximately 64% of the African Continent is found within a transboundary river or lake basin, or sits on a transboundary aquifer, containing 805 freshwater resources. As climate change exacerbates challenges already inherent in Africa’s hydrological cycle, and affects different parts of a watershed differently, it is clear that there is a need to highlight the importance of transboundary perspectives in adaptation and decision-making, and support efforts to include these within states planning and actions, including finance activities.
Whilst states are the most important actors for addressing climate change at a global level, there are risks that their own actions, designed to address local challenges, may result in additional challenges on neighbouring states, potentially leading to maladaptation. This means that transboundary organisations, such as lake commissions or basin authorities are highly important participants in integrated water resources management. The initiation and use of transboundary organisations are important to foster knowledge generation and provide a platform for discussion between basin states.
Recognising this, the African Development Bank hosted an experts workshop on “Supporting transboundary actions to address Climate Change” within the African Development Bank Pavilion on 7 December 2018, at COP24 Katowice, Poland. Experts from a range of agencies presented different perspectives on transboundary challenges, including bringing in the private sector within basin wide management, dealing with governance and water use in transboundary aquifers, and recent successes in obtaining climate finance in transboundary projects. Jonathan Barnes from the Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility (CRIDF) said ‘High-quality data is important and can provide a catalyst for building trust and decision-making, and is important for ensuring private sector interest. The theme of high quality data was also taken up by Dr Sarra Touzi from the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean and Dr. Abdou Guero from the Niger Basin Authority, who both discussed its’ necessity for improving the enabling environment for making water investments.
The increasing interest in the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) by African states was also noted in discussion, with the Republic of Chad the first country in Africa to accede to the Water Convention this year, followed by Senegal in the coming month. Up to 20 African States have indicated interest in joining the Water Convention, and to support transboundary actions in regard to climate change.