“Water and Climate Change: Adaptation through Green Infrastructure (EUCC Participation in JPAC Forum, July 14, Boston USA)


By Magdalena A K Muir, Climate Editor

I am participating on behalf of the Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) and the Coastal and Marine Union (EUCC) in this forum, held in Boston, USA on  July 14, 2015, which considers the use of green infrastructure to adapt to water and climate change in  North America cities, while conserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable development. There are significant parallels in activities in Europe and North America, allowing mutual learning and sharing of successes and best practices.

As part of JPAC’s commitment to address water at each of their meetings this year, as well as Council’s annual theme “Climate Change, Adaptation and Resilience,” this JPAC advisory forum addresses “Water and Climate Change: Adaptation through Green Infrastructure.” The forum discusses how green infrastructure and land-use planning are throughout North America to manage the effects of changing storm water patterns in urban and rural settings. They will also address the co-benefits of their proposed approaches for human health, particularly related to sewage treatment, restoration of water quality, access to clean water, and heat island reduction, as well as for biodiversity conservation and greenhouse gas reduction.

On behalf of AINA and EUCC, I provided the following comments during public consultation component of the forum with a focus on future JPAC efforts on climate, water and green infrastructure for Canada, Mexico and the United States:

1. Collaborative and comparitive efforts between Canada, US and Mexico for use of public and private partnerships (including indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge, local communities, academia and civil society) and public and private finance for green infrastructure and greening of existing infrastructure. These efforts could include the involvement of the European Union and the consideration of European approaches to greening infrastructure.
2. Expansive and innovative cost and benefit analysis that assesses the costs of the green infrastructure and contrasts it with the economic and social benefits of green infrastructure (including tourism and economic development;  biodiversity and ecosystem health and resilience; parks and public spaces; and mental, physical and societal health). The presentation of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority today indicated the billions of dollars of economic benefit that occur from greening infrastructure and the associated cleanup of the Boston harbour and adjacent watershed and protection of lands.
3. Focus on unique challenge of arid regions that experience periodic heavy water flows. Western Canada and United States and much of Mexico are subject to worsening drought conditions aggravated by climate change (which affecting agriculture and fire risk), and occasional or seasonal heavy precipitation and rapid melting of snowpack. Within this region, it would be useful to look at and compare different approaches and best practices, and also focus on some of the solutions and approaches coming out the earliest and most affected areas of California and US southwest. This is an area where the southern European and Mediterranean experience would also be relevant.
Further Information:

Water and Climate Change: Adaptation through Green Infrastructure  is webcast live at www.cec.org/webcast.

Programme provided below, and locate here in pdf form: Program-Water and Climate Change- Adaptation through Green Infrastructure  

Agenda of Tuesday, 14 July 2015

  • 8:00–9:00 Registration of Participants — Ballroom Foyer
  • 9:00–9:05 Opening and Introductory Remarks by Gustavo Alanís-Ortega, JPAC Chair
  • 9:05–9:45 Keynote Presentation by Frederick A. Laskey, Executive Director, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA)
  • 9:45–10:00 Break
  • 10:00–10:30 Panel I: Stormwater in CitiesModerator: Felicia Marcus, JPAC MemberAs some cities struggle, during and after extreme weather events, with excess stormwater from rainfall and melted snow, green infrastructure has proven to be an effective and sustainable water management strategy. This session will feature examples and a discussion of municipal-level initiatives that use green infrastructure to reduce property damage and improve water quality and mitigate water pollution and flooding.Panelists:
  • 10:30–12:00 Moderated Question and Answer Period with experts, JPAC Members and audience
  • 12:00–13:00 Lunch
  • 13:00–13:30 Panel II: Adapting to Changing Stormwater Quantities through Land-use PlanningModerator: Gustavo Carvajal, JPAC memberChanges in the timing and intensity of storms has altered the quantity of water from rainfall and melted snow in certain regions of North America. Stormwater runoff has exacerbated mudslides, coastal and riverbank erosion, and flooding. Changes in climate and land use have combined to worsen periodic stormwater flood patterns. Improved stormwater infrastructure and management could help ameliorate this and also address issues of water conservation and sustainable use. Different kinds of green infrastructure, along with better land-use planning, can help us adapt to changing conditions.Panelists:
    • Roberto Romero Ramírez, Director, Water Program, Fundación Gonzalo Río Arronte
    • Isabelle Thomas, Associate Professor, Institut d’urbanisme, Université de Montréal
    • Carlton Ray, Long-term Control Plan, Clean Rivers, District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water)
  • 13:30–15:00 Moderated Question and Answer Period, with experts, JPAC Members and audience
  • 15:00–15:15 Break
  • 15:15–15:35 Update on Submissions on Enforcement Matters
  • 15:35–15:50 Report from the National and Governmental Advisory Committee Representatives
  • 15:50–16:05 Break
  • 16:05–16:50 Networking Session for the PublicBased on the discussions held throughout the day, participants are invited to meet and exchange views on North American issues to be raised with the Ministers during the Council Public Meeting on 15 July. Participants will be asked to identify three key issues for our region. JPAC members will attend as observers.
  • 16:50–17:00 Closing Remarks by Gustavo Alanís-Ortega, JPAC Chair