Title: Latin America Focus: Expert and Ministerial Panel on Water Adaptation to Climate Change: Prospects and Challenges for Latin America and the Caribbean Region
Event type: Seminar
Date: 2010-09-07
Time: 09:00 - 12:30
Convenor: Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Water Forum of the Americas (WFA), National Water Commission of Mexico (CONAGUA), FEMSA Foundation, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Water Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean (CAALCA) and the World Bank
Room: T4

Event Description
Climate change represents a new and complex challenge for the sustainable management of water resources. Consequently, raising awareness, knowledge, and capacity for adapting to climate change in the water sector has become of paramount importance and requires urgent policy action. Regional cooperation is key, since climate and hydrological phenomena are not confined by territorial boundaries and governments share common responsibilities for their water resources. This seminar brings together ministers from different parts of Latin America and the Caribbean as well as distinguished experts to identify common priorities and opportunities for greater action in water resources management in the face of climate change. The convenors of this seminar have joined forces to organise a structured Regional Policy Dialogue to discuss adaptation to climate change in the water sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, providing a venue for participative knowledge and experience sharing. The preliminary results of this dialogue will be presented and discussed in this seminar, and the outcomes will be documented in a policy paper. The ultimate goal of the dialogue is to present the resulting policy recommendations in a side event at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-16).


Chair: Dr. Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, IDB


Welcome and introduction. Dr. C. Federico Basañes, IDB; Eng. José Luis Luege Tamargo, CONAGUA, Mexico; B.A. Genaro Borrego Estrada, FEMSA, Mexico; Mr. Bert Diphoorn, UN-Habitat


Prospects and challenges in water adaption to climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean: Contributions to a regional agenda. Eng. Maureen Ballestero, GWP Central America

Successful Practices in Water Resources Management in Latin America: Delivering Multiple Benefits, Herbert Thomas, Deputy Managing Director
Water Resources Authority, Jamaica


Comments: Dr. Roger Pulwarty, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)and Dr. Karen Kemper, The World Bank.


First Session of Panel Debate:

  • Mr. Irfaan Ali, Minister of Housing and Water of Guyana
  • Hon. Joseph Gilbert, Minister for Works, Physical Development and Public Utilities of Grenada
  • Hon. Jorge Patrone, Vice-Minister of Housing, Territorial Development and Environment of Uruguay
  • Eng. José Luis Luege Tamargo, General Director of the National Water Commission of Mexico
  • Mr. Herman Rosa Chávez, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador
  • Mr. Matias Desmadryl, General Director of Aguas de Chile
  • Mr. Herbert Thomas, Deputy Managing Director of the Water Resources Authority of Jamaica
  • Eng. Jose Miguel Zeledón Calderon, Director of the Water Department of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications of Costa Rica
  • Dr. Andrés Rodriguez, National Director of Water Resources Conservation and  Protection of Argentina

Coffee break


Second Session of Panel Debate


General discussion




Closure. Eng. Roberto Olivares, WFA; Dr. Benedito Braga, World Water Council


Close of Seminar

Event Summary and Conclusions
It has become increasingly clear that adaptation to Climate Change has become one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Successful adaptation to Climate Change is key to sustainability of human civilization and the future environmental balance of our planet. Adaptation to the anticipated impacts of Climate Change is particularly important in the water sector, since water has been recognized as the main medium through which Climate Change will affect populations and the environment. This process of adaptation should be embraced and integrated in a coherent and effective manner in regards to provision of water and sanitation services, the efficiency of irrigation systems and food production, generation of hydropower and economic development, as well as the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity and measures to prevent hazards associated with hydrometeorological events.

A major challenge remains how to translate this growing knowledge and awareness into concerted and sustainable action, particularly in support of developing nations. In the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, there is a fundamental need to understand the potential impacts of Climate Change on water resources management, in order to be able to devise practicable adaptation strategies that are part of the long-term processes of achieving sustainable development in the region. This requires reducing vulnerability to potential impacts, as well as taking effective prevention and response measures. A key gap to be bridged from the outset is that between available scientific knowledge and the major water sector decision-making processes and institutions. Bridging this gap requires better understanding of the implications for society as a whole, as well as continuous high-level dialog between specialists and decision makers in the region’s water sector institutions; and this linkage between knowledge and action needs to be supported by financial resources that enable the implementation of adaptation actions. For this reason, a set of relevant organizations in the LAC region have combined their efforts to structure a process of Regional Policy Dialogue on adaptation to Climate Change, in order to present the initial results during the 16th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP 16) to be held in Mexico in late 2010.

This seminar was the Regional Ministerial Panel on Climate Change Adaptation in the Water Sector, which took place on September 7, 2010 as part of World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. In this event, we presented and shared the current version of a position paper document with international experts and obtain further thoughts and feedback from the Ministers in charge of the water sector in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The main objective of the regional policy dialogue process described is to serve as a focal point for this high-level dialog. This will contribute to raising adaptation to Climate Change as a priority within the water sector in LAC. This dialog is a first step towards the regional integration of adaptation efforts, and will serve as an initial guide in addressing this complex issue, with integrated and effective actions across the short, medium and long term.

Please navigate the full events list below to see the details of each Latin America Focus event:

Monday Evening Side Evet
•  Best Practices in Water and Sanitation

Tuesday Morning Seminar 
•  Expert and Ministerial Panel on Water Adaptation to Climate Change: Prospects and Challenges for Latin America and the Caribbean Region

Tuesday Lunch Side Event 
•  Latin American and the Caribbean Water and Sanitation Award

Tuesday Afternoon Seminar 
•  Water Quality Issues and New Approaches in Latin America

Tuesday Evening Side Event 
•  Successful Practices in Water Resource Management in Latin America: Delivering Multiple Benefits


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