|Press breifing for the Water and Climate Leaders Statement|
There is no time to waste. It is time to get serious about water. Water is imperative and can provide solution(s) to climate action. That was the message of the Water and Climate Leaders Statement entitled “Water Imperative to Climate Action: Message to National and Global Leaders at COP27*”. They urged heads of state and governments to take an integrated approach to water and climate action and replace the fragmented approach where water is seen as “part of the problem” rather than as part of the solution to achieve the Paris Agreement.
Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hani Sewilam, Tajikistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sirojiddin Muhidin and WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas issued the Statement in a press briefing on 8 November in Sharm El Sheikh. The panel stressed the importance of early warning systems and public awareness initiatives that build capacity in developing countries and mainstream water and climate linkages.
The Statement points out that many climate change impacts are due to water-related hazards and shortages. However, an improved management of water resources can directly catalyse climate action through adaptation and mitigation:
- Reducing climate-induced disaster risks: Hydrological monitoring and forecasting systems significantly reduce climate and weather-induced disaster risks. Better management of wetlands, dams and other water storages, with adequate safeguards, provides many options for taking precautionary measures and emergency responses when such events happen.
- Enhancing climate change resilience and security: Smart water management contributes to human rights and livelihoods, economic development, poverty reduction, job creation, public health, gender equality and maintenance of biodiversity. A supportive regulatory framework that fosters innovation, including by the private sector, and facilitates private-public cooperation is key to the improved management of water.
- Lowering greenhouse gas emissions: Water is essential for lowering emissions and capturing carbon. Well-managed effluents and other wastewater, as well as well-managed water in paddy fields, wetlands and reservoirs play an important role int his area. Water service providers can also improve water and energy efficiency by reducing reliance on fossil fuels in their water treatment and distribution. Solar and wind power can be stabilized through water management, and well-planned hydropower can provide clean energy at many locations.
The Statement pressed heads of state and government to acknowledge water as an important part of climate adaptation and mitigation by placing emphasis on protecting, conserving and restoring water and water-related ecosystems in the negotiated outcome document for COP27.
Addressing water in adaptation plans
Maria Kosonen (WCC), Jessica Troni (UNEP), Bhava Dhungana(UNFCCC) at the session on Systems Thinking of NAPs and NDCs (Image: WCC/UN1FY)
The message in the Water and Climate Leaders Statement was reinforced in a COP27 session on 12 November on the Systems Thinking of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Speakers from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNFCCC and African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) used the session to shed light on the importance of systems thinking, the impact of Integrated Water Resources Management(IWRM) to adaptation and the value of building capacity for adaptation action.
“Water knows no boundaries, neither should we,” informed Maria Kosonen, coordinator of the Members and Activities of the Water and Climate Coalition (WCC), at the session. Ensuring resilient water adaptation in the face of climate change is a prime pursuit of the WCC, and multistakeholder partnerships are at the heart of the Coalition members' work. A growing community of over 250 stakeholders representing scientific organizations, private sector entities, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations, governments and civil society make up the WCC. The WCC/Our Future Water (OFW) joint publication, Climate Resilient Water Resource Management, Driving the Conversation Forward, was promoted at the session and shared widely throughout COP27 to stimulate high-level discussions.
*Twenty-Seventh Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)