Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


This Article identifies and critically reviews the importance of adaptability and flexibility in treaties and institutional arrangements by providing resilience in the face of the anticipated impact of climate change on the good governance of international waters. Building greater resilience and adaptability into international waters agreements is essential to address the uncertainties in hydrological and ocean processes associated with climate change. There is also growing consensus that conflict over natural resources can be linked to extreme events and climate change, and this is receiving increased attention in foreign policy development. Surface water resources are especially vulnerable to the anticipated consequences of climate change, due to the strong linkage surface water resources have with precipitation and temperature. Other international waters such as international large marine ecosystems and international groundwater resources are also potentially impacted by climate change events. Climate change and adaptation need to be at the forefront of water policy. Technical solutions, such as dams, are important elements in strategies to deal with climate change; however, they have their limitations. At the core of successful adaptation will be institutions that are designed and maintained with the flexibility and capacity to develop and implement innovative and adaptive strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

This Article accepts the proposition that current climate predictions are largely correct and that there will be greater variability in precipitation, with a general trend at higher latitudes and elevations of greater precipitation in the wet season and reduced precipitation in the dry season. This Article argues there is an urgent need to design and implement institutional arrangements to deal specifically with these challenges. The Article focuses on the structure of arrangements to deal with or accommodate changes associated with climate change.