World Water Day and World Meteorological Day 2020
To amplify the messages around climate change and water, both World Water Day and World Meteorological Day in 2020 focus on climate change and water and aim to inspire people around the world to take action. In order to inform and engage people, World Meteorological Day and World Water Day will highlight how water can help fight climate change.
All around the world, billions of people feel the impacts of climate change through water. The frequency of water-related disasters is on the rise due to the increase in the intensity of natural events such as storms, high winds, heavy precipitation and dry spells. Floods, droughts, landslides, glacier lake outbursts and storm surges are impacting lives and infrastructure in coastal zones and mountain tops, in arid plains and deserts, along river banks and in floodplains. The poorest and least developed are the most vulnerable. And yet, when the world talks about mitigation and adaptation to the new reality of climate change, water is rarely on the agenda. This has to change, and fast.
Climate change is increasing variability in the water cycle, inducing a greater number of extreme weather events, reducing the predictability of water availability and affecting water quality. In turn, this cascade of consequences threatens sustainable development, biodiversity and the enjoyment of the human right to water and sanitation worldwide.
Growing demand is putting pressure on a system that is already under stress. There is no time to lose.
This year, the United Nations (UN) system is focusing on climate change and water. UN-Water is seizing the opportunity to put water at the heart of climate action plans and at the front of people’s minds when they think about climate change.
In 2019, the UN-Water Expert Group on Water and Climate – co-coordinated by WMO, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – produced a policy brief on climate change and water. This brief outlines five key actions:
- Acting now - Climate change is threatening lives and human rights. Securing water for communities, economies, and ecosystems is critical for poverty reduction, green energy transformation, and creating a buffer from disasters.
- Considering water as part of the solution - Climate-resilient water management is an essential component of successful climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, and can accelerate progress towards achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
- Improving water management practices - Communities, governments and basin authorities need to be empowered to make confident, risk-informed decisions that can help increase climate resilience, improve ecosystem health, and reduce the risk of water-related disasters.
- Ensuring transboundary cooperation in adaptation- Transboundary cooperation in adaptation is needed to manage climate impacts that cross national boundaries, but can also help to harness the potential co-benefits of improved regional cooperation, such as exchange of data, and improved peace and stability.
- Rethinking financing - Climate finance for water resource management and sanitation supports community climate resilience, job creation at local levels through green jobs, and help to improve sustainable development outcomes.
The policy brief also provides key actionable recommendations in two main focal areas: (1) global and regional climate and water negotiations and processes and (2) national and subnational capacity-building, planning, implementation and monitoring. The recommendations include:
- A call for establishing criteria, and to develop a set of global priorities, for climate-resilient water and sanitation interventions in specific hotspots
- Support for the refinement of climate change projections and downscaling of relevant climate information as well as support for countries to overcome the “observation gap”
- Development of regional and basin-wide adaptation strategies to maximize the effectiveness of adaptation
- The stimulation of innovation and fostering of capacity-building for, as well as better awareness of, adaptive water management
- Calls for engaging and empowering youth and young water professionals – including indigenous youth as leaders and knowledge holders who provide solutions for water security and climate action.
These five approaches and key recommendation should be promoted and widely implemented in national and international river basins. But none of these solutions can fully succeed without wider – global – public participation. Everyday people need to be inspired into action with concise, clear and practical messages.
World Water Day and World Meteorological Day 2020
|One of three World Water Day 2020 campaign posters (left) and World Meteorological Day 2020 poster (right).|
To amplify the messages around climate change and water, both World Water Day and World Meteorological Day in 2020 will focus on climate change and water and aim to inspire people around the world to take action. In order to inform and engage people, World Meteorological Day and World Water Day will highlight how water can help fight climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that “the relationship between climate change mitigation measures and water is a reciprocal one.” Measures introduced to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have direct implications for water resource use and management. Conversely, water extraction and management measures have an impact on carbon emissions due to the energy intensity of water treatment and distribution systems. At the same time, water plays a central role for adaptation to climate change since efficient and sustainable water management enables more effective adaptation of water-related sectors to climate change and improves the resilience of ecosystems. The role that governments and other actors, including the private sector, must play in water stewardship to achieve a sustainable, low-carbon future is acknowledged in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, this awareness is still incomplete.
This 22 and 23 March, everyone can get involved and take action. World Water and World Meteorological Day websites provide practical tips on how each of us can act and make a difference on climate change and water. Together we can make the following messages resonate with everyone, everywhere:
- We cannot afford to wait. Climate policy-makers must put water at the heart of action plans.
- Water can help fight climate change. There are sustainable, affordable and scalable water and sanitation solutions.
- Everyone has a role to play. In our daily lives, there are surprisingly easy steps we can all take to address climate change.
Sonja Koeppel, The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
Anil Mishr, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Claudio Caponi, WMO Secretariat