Article 27

27.2 Application

Six riparian states have established a joint commission to manage river X. Recently the states have set up a working group under the institutional structure of the commission entitled ‘Climate Change Adaptation Strategies’. Firstly, the working group commissioned a study on ‘Scenarios for the Discharge Regime of the Regime’, which examines how the discharge patterns of the river may be effected by climate change. The effects considered included flood periods and low flow periods. Various aspects were considered including the likely impact of increased flooding, lower flows affecting navigation, and reducing groundwater recharge, as well as quality issues. Following the evaluation of likely scenarios the states are now in the process of developing adaptation measures to address the likely scenarios.

The 2007 European Union Floods Directive

The EU Floods Directive focuses on three areas:

(1) preliminary flood risk assessment;

(2) flood maps; and

(3) flood risk management plans.

In the context of flood risk assessment, member states are obligated to conduct a preliminary assessment, which should include maps of the river basin district, a description of past floods which have had a significant adverse impact, and the likely adverse consequences of future floods. Following the preliminary flood risk assessment, member states must identify those river basin districts where potential significant flood risks exist or might be considered likely to occur. The Floods Directive also provides that preliminary flood assessments must be made available to the public.

For areas where a potential significant flood risk exists or might be considered likely to occur, member states must prepare flood hazard maps and flood risk maps. Flood hazard maps should contain information on the potential extent of floods, water depths or water level, and flow velocity or relevant water flow, where appropriate.’ Flood risk maps should show the potential adverse consequences associated with likely floods, in terms of, inter alia, inhabitants, economic activities, and installations affected. Under the Floods Directive, member states are obliged to ensure that the maps are made available to the public.

Finally, member states are required to establish flood risk management plans. Active involvement of ‘interested parties’ in the production, review, and updating of the flood risk management plans must be encouraged by the member states, and the plans must be made available to the public. Management plans should include conclusions made after the first preliminary flood risk assessment, flood hazard and flood risk maps, a description of the appropriate objectives of flood risk management, and a summary of measures and their aims to achieve the appropriate objectives of flood risk management. The flood risk management plan should also include:

‘(1) a description of the prioritisation and the way in which progress in implementing the plan will be monitored;

(2) a summary of public information and consultation measures/action taken;

(3) a list of competent authorities and, as appropriate, a description of the coordination process within any international river basin district.’

For more informations see


Floods and the Mekong River Commission

Within the context of the Mekong, the Mekong River Commission has implemented a programme for Flood Management and Mitigation.

The programme was established in 2005 and consists of five components, namely:

(i) the establishment of a regional flood centre in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that provides floodrelated tools, data and knowledge at national and regional levels, produces regional flood forecasts, and provides tools for flood risk assessment and transboundary impact analysis;

(ii) structural measures and flood proofing, including reservoirs, embankments and waterways;

(iii) mediation of transboundary flood issues, that facilitates dialogue and resolution of issues concerning land management and land use planning, infrastructure development and crossborder emergency management of floods;

(iv) flood emergency management, which seeks to deal with the negative impacts of floods more effectively through capacity building, knowledge sharing and public awareness campaigns; and

(v) land management, which covers issues such as land use planning and damage reducing land management policies.


UNECE – Key steps for the development of an adaptation strategy:

1. Establish the policy, legal and institutional framework

a. Assess existing international commitments, policies, laws and regulations for water and related sectors (e.g. agriculture, health case, hydropower development, inland water transport, forestry, disaster management, nature conservation) in relation to their effectiveness in reducing climate-induced vulnerabilities and to their capacity to support the development of adaptation strategies and then revise and complement them as needed;

b. Define the institutional processes through which adaptation measures are or will be planned and implemented, including where decision-making authority lies at the transboundary, national and local levels and what the links are between these levels;

2. Understand the vulnerability of society

a. Ascertain the information needed to assess vulnerability

b. Gauge the future effects of climate change on the hydrological conditions of the specific transboundary basin in terms of water demand and water availability, including its quality, based on different socio-economic and environmental scenarios;

c. Identify the main current and climate-induced vulnerabilities that affect communities, with particular attention paid to water resources and the health-related aspects;

d. Determine, through participatory processes, the needs, priorities and adaptive capacities of different states;

3. Develop, finance and implement an adaptation strategy

a. Identify potential adaptation measures to reduce vulnerability to climate change and climate variability by preventing negative effects, by enhancing the resilience of natural, social and economic systems to climate change, or by reducing the effects of extreme events through preventive, preparatory, reactive and recovery measures. Measures should include both structural and non-structural measures as well as the financial means and the institutional changes necessary to implement successful adaptation processes;

b. Based on participatory processes, prioritise the potential measures and investments needed taking into account the financial and institutional resources and other means and knowledge available to implement them;

c. Ensure the step-by-step implementation of the adaptation strategy, in accordance with determined priorities, including coping measures from the local to the states and transboundary level.

4. Evaluate

a. Determine whether the measures are implemented and if those measures that are implemented lead to reduction of vulnerability; if not, adjust the measures accordingly;

b. Assess whether the scenarios as applied materialise in practice and adjust them accordingly.

For more information see: UNECE, Guidance on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change (UNECE 2009).


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