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Adour-Garonne basin: one year after the IFGR session, what has been done to face climate change?

In October 2018, IFGR brought its experts together at Toulouse and Bordeaux, in the Adour-Garonne basin, to debate on territorial resilience to climate change. This session provided the opportunity to compare practices at the international scale to match needs for water resources with their availability. Recommendations  were also addressed to the region’s relevant decision-making bodies, at the very moment when they were drafting an “understanding” aimed at coordinating the combat against the effects of climate change in the basin. Where do things stand one year after?

Adapting to climate change entails overcoming major technical and organisational challenges. In the Adour Garonne basin, the prospective studies performed by the Water Agency underscore the importance of the issue with a 20 to 40% reduction in river low water discharges, and a water shortage in the region of 1.2 billion m3 forecast by 2050. With such changes, the already highly conflictual issue of sharing water will become even more pressing.

A stronger water governance

These challenges demand stronger water governance, which is the orientation taken by the Understanding on Water, signed in the form of a protocol in October 2018.

By associating the Basin Committee, the Occitanie and Nouvelle Aquitaine Regions and the State in the definition of common objectives for southwest France, the Understanding on Water comprises a road map that permits concrete and immediate action with respect to the many adaptations imposed by climate change:

  • A water saving plan for different uses,
  • The development of nature-based measures,
  • The optimisation of existing reserves and the mobilisation of additional resources to secure different uses,
  • Combat the artificial covering of soil and its erosion.

This road map was extended by an operational action plan based on thirty actions and by closer relations between the services of the Agency, the government and the Regions to assist its implementation.

Exploring different solutions in order to satisfy all uses

The political impetus provided by the Understanding allows dealing with emerging issues (for example, the reutilisation of wastewater, rainwater management by rendering impervious surfaces porous) and giving greater visibility to older issues (for example, water saving, wetland management), while at the same time focusing on challenges considered important by the technical services and the general public.

This political impetus is crucial in view of the technical difficulties of most of the subjects and the conflicts of use inherent to questions of sharing water.

In addition to regular technical meetings, and in order to guarantee that the action plan is effectively carried out, the signatories of the Understanding on Water of the Adour Garonne basin meet once a year. The next meeting will be held on 28 October 2019.

Read the conclusions of the IFGR session

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