How countries can better manage flood risks – World

January’s deadly storms in western Europe and south-east Africa are a stark reminder of the reality of the climate crisis. Storm Ana, which raged through Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi until last week, has left more than 45,000 people, including 23,000 women and children, need humanitarian aidsays UNICEF.

Meanwhile, Storm Malik, which has battered the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom, has shaken thousands from its effects, which range from power outages to the destruction of homes. These problems have been exacerbated by the effects of flooding, which can endanger human life, further disrupt electricity supplies and prevent adequate relief mechanisms.

Flood-related disasters have increased by 134 percent since 2000, compared to the previous two decades, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). As recently report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasizes that rising global temperatures are dramatically affecting the hydrological cycle, making floods and droughts more extreme and more frequent.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and partners have worked to reduce the impact of flooding in countries around the world.

“UNEP doesn’t have a magic wand, but we are working with partners to accelerate flood resilience, build capacity, promote sustainable development, and collect and analyze the critical data to inform policy-making,” says UNEP- Freshwater Ecosystems Expert, Lis Mullin Bernhardt.

“We are building resilience by achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) on water and give countries significant opportunities to advance their broader development and climate agendas effectively, consistently and across sectors, and with longer-term viability,” she added.

Floods destroy biodiversity, life, livelihoods, infrastructure and other assets. It can also worsen health hazards like cholera when sewers overflow and freshwater and polluted water mix. In some places, standing floods can promote the proliferation of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The WMO report strongly advocates investment in integrated water resource management, a comprehensive framework for managing water resources and balancing social and economic needs while protecting ecosystems such as wetlands that help reduce flooding.

data tools

More accurate and reliable data helps to pinpoint risks. the Flood and drought portalmaintained by UNEP DHI (a UNEP center of excellence dedicated to improving the management, development and use of freshwater resources from the local to the global scale), aggregates and translates publicly available data from a range of sources and makes it available to water authorities in a form they can access use to support decisions at local level. The portal leverages the growing opportunities offered by satellite data and cloud solutions to improve preparedness, management and response to urban flooding, basin flooding, drought and coastal protection.

Meanwhile, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, which is committed to leveraging the new capabilities of the data revolution to make this happen SDGs, has worked with partners such as UNEP to inform flood policy in Guinea, Senegal and Togo. It organized a three-phase capacity-building exercise to use the flood and drought report valley.

The training helped Senegal improve data availability. “We have learned to explore and use data on deforestation, drought and flooding in Senegal that is not often collected at the national level,” says Gora Mbengue from the Senegalese Department for Planning and Environmental Monitoring.

Adaptation saves lives and resources

UNEP’s Adjustment Gap Report 2021 underlines the urgent need to increase financing for climate adaptation. Estimated adaptation costs in developing countries are five to ten times higher than current public finance flows for adaptation, and the gap in adaptation finance is widening.

“Ecosystem-based approaches such as built wetlands, special retention areas and vegetation cover restoration to mitigate the impact of flooding are attracting increasing attention and funding and are a core component of UNEP’s work on climate‘ says Bernhardt.

As part of its mandate for SDG Goal 6.6, UNEP is working to preserve wetlands that absorb and slowly release excess water, mitigating the impact of flooding

In the Comoros, for example, UNEP and partners are helping people capture and retain water by rehabilitating 3,500 hectares of watersheds. The project aims to plant 1.4 million trees across the country’s three islands over the course of four years. For farmers living in increasingly parched and degraded watersheds, this ecological restoration will prevent their soils from drying out and being washed downhill. The project is also improving weather forecasting systems and climate knowledge to help people adapt to the climate.

This example is from UNEP’s new ecosystem-based adaptation guidelines they contain the Opportunity mapping tool for Eco-DRRhelping countries identify where ecosystems such as mangroves, forests, coral reefs and seagrasses intersect with human populations vulnerable to storms, floods and landslides, and seeks to identify where ecosystem-based approaches will have the greatest impact.

UNEP has also supported the Rewetting of peatlands in Indonesia. Bogs are particularly important wetlands because they store twice as much Carbon like all forests in the world. Their conservation helps slow climate change and reduce the risk of extreme climate events such as floods. The UNEP-led Global Peatlands Initiative is conducting international activities in four initial partner countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Peru and the Republic of the Congo – to develop, among other things, rapid global assessments of peatland extent and carbon content.

For more information please contact: Joakim Harlin, Head of UNEP’s Fresh Water Department: [email protected]

*UNEP, along with seven other UN agencies, is part of the Integrated monitoring initiativea global program coordinated by UN water designed to help countries monitor and report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal 6 goals. UNEP is responsible for three of the 11 indicators: those on ambient water quality, integrated water resource management and freshwater ecosystems. Data collected by UNEP is now being analyzed to track how environmental pressures such as climate change, urbanization and land-use change are affecting the world’s freshwater resources.*

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