Adapting to climate change: risk or benefit for freshwater nature? An analysis of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions in the Global North and South
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Safeguarding freshwater nature and adapting to climate change are issues which should be high on the agenda of policy makers. This thesis addresses both by determining the implications on freshwater nature of the envisioned adaptation climate policies of states in the Global North and South. First, the possible adaptation measures are researched within literature as well as those measures’ effects on freshwater nature. This information enables the drafting of an assessment framework which tabulates an overview of these measures and effects. This assessment framework is then applied to 20 cases. The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are documents that are publicised to communicate which mitigation and adaptation measures will be implemented nationally to adhere to the aims of the Paris Agreement. The INDCs are used to identify which countries aim to implement which adaptation measures. The results of the analysis of these INDCs are compared to identify whether adaptation measures that safeguard freshwater nature are often used. The same can be done for adaptation measures that impact freshwater nature negatively. This way opportunities for win-win situation can be identified. Also, it can become clear which adaptation measures need to be avoided when it comes to freshwater nature. As this is done for countries in the Global North and South, a comparison between the measures found in these regions is made. From this thesis it can be concluded that the potential effects of the adaptation measures on freshwater nature are diverse. When it comes to the measures most adopted, the measure ‘extension or preservation of protected areas’ has a clear positive effect, while ‘R&D on vector control and vaccines’ has a clear negative effect on freshwater nature. Most measures however can be both beneficial or harmful for freshwater nature depending on the way they are implemented. The measures within this category that are currently adopted most by the analysed countries are ‘forestry with shorter rotation time, afforestation and reforestation’, ‘the development of resistant crops’ and the ‘creation of risk analysis institution and long-term plans’. Many other measures less often adopted that can both be positive or negative for freshwater nature however exist. Thus, when implementing adaptation measures, it is crucial to include freshwater nature within the decision-making process. As more countries in the Global South implement measures in comparison to the Global North, opportunities arise for win-win situations specifically in those areas. However, negative effects may also intensify as a result.