Challenges and solutions in the World Deltas
On Thursday morning 30 September Sessions will be organized around various deltas and delta cities. They will take a closer look into the challenges and solutions in these deltas. Presentations will be given about climate change and sea level rise scenarios, and their possible impacts on that specific delta. Adaptation options, strategies and the policy response will also be discussed. Together with the scientific sessions these sessions can be seen as a stepping stone towards the fifth IPCC report. The synthesis of these sessions will be presented on Friday 1 October.
The sessions include the following deltas or delta cities: Mekong (Vietnam), Elbe/Hamburg, Thames/London, Rhine, Po, Bangladesh, California, Nile and the lowlands deltas of Indonesia. The sessions are organized by representatives of these regions including policy makers and the scientific community.
3. Nile Delta
7. Rhine Delta
1. Regional Elbe/Hamburg
The overarching theme of this conference 'deltas in times of climate change' is a global issue, namely how heavily populated regions develop under various pressures of natural risks and human influence. While many issues, such as rising sea level, intensified off-shore activity and shrinking space for natural ecosystems, are common to many deltas, it is worthwhile to examine separate regional cases.
An interesting case is the Elbe estuary with the major European port of Hamburg. A well established research community, ranging from basic climate research to efforts for planning and implementing local and regional adaptation measures, makes Hamburg (which was chosen as European Green Capital 2011) a pioneer in dealing with the prospects of regional and global change. In a series of presentations, past developments, present challenges and possible futures, knowledge brokering and regional perceptions are discussed.
2. Po Delta and the Venice Lagoon
The north-east coast of Italy, from Trieste to Ravenna, is an articulated system of lagoons and deltas that mainly lays at or below the mean sea level. Here, the Venice lagoon and the Po delta are located. With its 550 km2, the lagoon of Venice is the largest of the Mediterranean region hosting the historical city of Venice. Just south of the lagoon the Po river, stretching all the way from the West to the Est of the Italian peninsula, flows into the Adriatic sea through a wide delta. Sea level rise and other climate change impacts are likely to exacerbate current conflicting uses of natural resources in the region. This session will discuss the most recent scientific findings on sea level rise and the impacts of climate change on the delta. Adaptation responses will also be discussed. Focus will be on the safeguarding measures to protect Venice, including the storm surge barriers under construction at the lagoon inlets and on the management plan for the natural area of the Po delta.
3. Nile Delta
Egypt has, since time immemorial, been described as the “gift of the river Nile” and so it is not surprising that management of water resources has been central to all aspects of national strategy. Population growth as well as a growing standard of living put pressure on the water resources, and the per-capita availability of renewable fresh water resources is steadily declining with time. Moreover, the Nile waters are shared by nine other upper riparian nations, all with growing water demands. The Nile Delta and Valley are densely populated areas where agriculture, industry, and urban area all require water and space. About 90% of the population lives on 5% of the land area around the valley of the Nile River and the Delta, the rest of the country being desert. The country faces the strategic challenge of improving the productivity as well as safeguarding the sustainability of water resources. Rationalizing and reforming water management is important in any strategy aimed at accelerating the country’s economic growth. The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has developed the National Water Resources Plan, NWRP 1997-2017 (together with institutions from The Netherlands). A National Water Quality Management Plan has also been developed. The implementation of both Plans requires huge investments. Institutional development/ reform (participation, integration, decentralisation) aims at more effective and efficient water management in a locally adapted manner.
The session will cover issues as water management challenges and options, research, impact of climate change, and the unique bilateral science-policy interface that developed over time.
4. Thames Estuary
London is the capital city of the United Kingdom and has been a settlement for around two millennia. It has a wide and diverse cultural, social, economic, environmental and built heritage and is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. The population is currently approximately 7.2 million and is expected to be over 8.1 million by 2016. In response to these demographic and economic pressures the Thames Gateway, which is a 40 mile tract of land that stretches from the London Docklands to the Thames Estuary, has been targeted for significant development over the coming decades. The London Olympics in 2012 will take place in the floodplain east of London. By 2016, 120,000 new households and related infrastructure will be developed in the Thames Gateway area. Amongst the climate risks faced by Londoners are the threats of flooding from storm surges, river flows and local intense rainfall, along with summer risks of water scarcity and excessive temperatures.
The river Thames, which flows through London, is tidal as far as Teddington Weir in west London. Without the protection afforded by the flood defences, much of London would flood regularly. Currently there is an area of approximately 345km2 at risk of flooding which contains 1.25 million people; nearly 500 schools and hospitals, 2,450km of transport links and 481,180 properties in the floodplain of which 476,000 are residential. The current Thames tidal flood defence system, which protects these people and properties, comprises the Thames Barrier, 185 miles of floodwalls, 35 major gates and over 400 minor gates which protect London from tidal surges. Floodwalls and embankments upstream of the Thames Barrier protect West London from extreme river flows. A major review of the flood defence system for London (the Thames Estuary 2100 project) has just been completed, representing one of the most comprehensive flood risk analysis and adaptation studies ever undertaken.
In this session the challenges of urbanisation and climate change in the Thames estuary will be presented and we will take a closer look at London's adaptation plans.
The Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta lies at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and is an inland Delta in Northern California. Water flows from the Delta into San Francisco Bay before draining in the Pacific Ocean through the Golden Gate. It is the hub for California’s water supply system. Most water is coming in from the north and before flowing towards the Bay vast amounts of water are pumped into aqueducts that run to the arid south to support agriculture in Central Valley and 25 million people in Southern California. Although not many people live in this delta itself, proper flood protection is critical. Delta Islands, or polders as the Dutch would call them, in some instances lie more than seven meters below sea level. A levee breach here would cause an island to fill up and not only draw fresh water from its surrounding area but also draw in brackish water from San Francisco Bay, possibly creating an inland salt water sea jeopardizing the water supply to southern California. Recently the Delta Stewardship Council was formed to develop a new Delta Plan to address these issues and support the co-equal goals of a more reliable water supply and ecosystem restoration.
This session will cover the challenges in both San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as it relates to water supply, flood control, ecosystem restoration, water quality and the effects of climate change.
6. Vietnam Delta
With two significant deltas Vietnam is amongst the most vulnerable countries when it comes to the impacts of climate change, especially for its hydrology, Aqua/agriculture and environment. However, it is also blessed with a responsive scientific and governmental community that addresses these challenges head on. International cooperation is a corner stone in the governments policy as is the focus on swift implementation of adaptive measures at the provincial and municipal level.. The session will display Vietnam’s active responds to climate change impacts, it’s ambition to exploit it’s opportunities and the international relevance of the Vietnam’s experiences.
The strategic cooperation with the Netherlands will get special attention as it indicates national commitment and international recognition of the importance of cooperation and provides directions for solutions when it comes to tackling climate related challenges. The development of the Water Mondiaal program will be introduced internationally.
The session covers governmental, scientific and network aspects of delta adaptation to climate change, at the municipal, regional and national level with international reflections upon clear Vietnamese experiences.
7. Rhine Delta
The Rhine is one of the largest river basins of Europe. The river constitutes a major transport vein that passes important industrial areas. Its waters are also used intensively for drinking water, cooling water and irrigation. Without the existing dike protection large part of the basin, in particular the delta area, would be prone to flooding.
Climate change has potentially large effects on the water availability and also might increase inundation risks. Understanding the effect of global warming on extreme low discharges and flooding risks is of particular interest to the countries of the Rhine river basin. Based on this knowledge better decisions can be made on adaptation measures.
This session will discuss the most recent scientific findings on climate change and its effects on river discharges for the international Rhine river basin. The link between science and policy will also be discussed; how to deal with uncertainties is a major issue here. Also, innovative adaptation responses will be presented.
8. Bangladesh Delta
The Bangladesh delta is one the biggest and most vulnerable deltas in the world. Agriculture and fisheries are important to feed the increasing population in the densely populated delta. In both these, and many other production sectors, water management is one of the most crucial issues to be addressed. Objective for the country is to ensure food security for over 150 million inhabitants, while being vulnerable to climate and climate change. In several of the country’s policies, like the Agricultural Investment Plan, the National Water Management Plan and the Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, these issues are addressed and concrete activities are undertaken. This session will give an overview of most critical issues and challenges. Examples will be presented and discussed with the objective to share information and come to further understanding on the complex issues in the delta and assist in formulating possible action.
9. The lowland deltas of Indonesia
The lowland deltas of Indonesia are the scene of increasingly intensive economic activities. In the process large quantities of CO2 are released. At the same time the lowlands are carbon stocks of global importance, maintain important biodiversity values, and are home to different indigenous livelihood systems. Climate change may affect the lowlands in different ways, depending among others on geographical location (sea level rise, salt intrusion, droughts, and floods). On the other hand, the global concern with climate change may create opportunities (CDM, REDD).
The session addresses the question how economic development of Indonesia’s lowland deltas can be ecologically and socially sustainable, as well as 'climate proof'. Although Indonesia’s delta lowlands are discussed in general, the focus will be on the lowlands of Papua, Indonesia’s last frontier.