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COP27: Action on water, adaptation and resilience

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Graham Mann
I have been in the Water & Waste Water industry for 30 years and formed a Water Consultancy business called H2o Building Services both myself and my team have built a wealth of knowledge and expertise Saving companies money on their Water bi
  • COP27: Action on water, adaptation and resilience

The COP27 climate conference in Egypt has just come to a close, with the aim of this year’s event to move from negotiations and planning to implementation of fully, timely and inclusive action on the ground, bringing together nations all over the world to tackle the climate crisis and build a more resilient planet.

The science now shows without doubt that the window for taking decisive action to address the climate emergency is now closing rapidly and there is now real need for progress on the ground on all aspects relating to the crisis, including mitigation, adaptation, finance, loss and damage.

It’s hoped that this year’s conference will serve as the turning point for the world, with countries coming together to demonstrate that the political will is there to rise to the climate challenge through collaborative and impactful action where pledges and agreements are transformed into projects and programmes and where the international community works together towards common goals for the common good of both the planet and humanity.

One of the main initiatives to have been developed during this year’s conference aims to address the issues of water stress and scarcity, viewing it as the key to climate change adaptation and resilience.

The Action on Water, Adaptation and Resilience (AWARe) programme will strive to provide transitional adaptation solutions around the world, starting with the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems, including water-scarce countries.

Despite the fact that water is absolutely essential for achieving the highest standards of human health, as well as for ensuring the security of food supplies, livelihoods and ecosystems everywhere, billions of people around the world are currently affected by the global water crisis.

Furthermore, it’s expected that the situation will be exacerbated by a rise in demand, coupled with changes in water availability and the impact of both floods and droughts, which are predicted to occur with increasing regularity… and increasing severity. As such, greater international cooperation will be required in order to drive significant and long-lasting change.

This new initiative will build on the Water and Climate Coalition, the Adaptation Action Coalition and the Marrakesh Partnership Climate Action, as well as contributing to the successful outcome of the 2023 UN Conference on Water.

There are three principal aims of the AWARe programme: decreasing water losses worldwide and improving supply, the implementation of mutually agreed policy and methods for cooperative water-related adaptation action, and promoting cooperation and interlinkages between water and climate action to achieve Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.

Taking action

Under this latest initiative, various work streams will be prioritised and implemented, including the promotion of measures to decouple economic growth from use and degradation of freshwater resources.

In addition, green water will be taken into account when developing national utilisation plans and adaptation and mitigation strategies, as well as restoration plans for freshwater ecosystems.

It will also aim to support the co-benefits of adaptation action where mitigation is concerned, including the promotion of sustainable and low-cost drinking water and wastewater management and sanitation policies, as well as water-wise energy pathways.

Furthermore, improved early warning systems for extreme weather events will also be rolled out, including the three components of forecast, notifications and means of communications in the short, medium and long-term.

Finance, technology and capacity building steps will be implemented in order to drive these changes through, helping all sectors prioritise water-climate adaptation activities.

Sameh Shoukry, COP27 president, said: “With water use increasing every year and 70 per cent of the world’s freshwater used for agriculture, according to the World Bank, the stresses of climate change are felt more and more.

“Climate change is already limiting people’s access to water globally, as droughts, floods, and wildfires linked to warming temperatures impact supply. Monitoring and managing river basin ecosystems is becoming increasingly vital and initiatives like AWARe will provide for transformational collaboration across the continent.”

Analysis from the World Health Organization shows that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in regions facing water stress, with water-related issues intrinsically linked to climate change.

As such, it seems that there is precious little time to waste in addressing the water crisis and finding sustainable solutions to a problem that will affect us all in some way at some point in the not-too-distant future.

2023 water conference

According to the UN, almost three-quarters of all the most recent disasters that have occurred globally have been water related, causing economic damage to the tune of nearly $700 billion in the last 20 years.

It’s now believed by many that drought could, in fact, be the next pandemic, while poor water management around the world is increasing the risks posed by the ongoing water and sanitation crisis.

The recent coronavirus crisis shone a light on the world’s shared vulnerabilities, with population growth, rising global temperatures and more water-intensive agricultural and industrial practices putting additional pressure on resources.

As the UN explains, without a resilient and fully functioning water cycle everywhere, both human and environmental health will be at risk, with an equitable and sustainable future forever out of reach.

The UN 2023 Water Conference will take place between March 22nd and 24th next year in New York, coinciding with World Water Day, summarising the commitments, pledges and actions by governments and stakeholders being rolled out to achieve SDG 6, as well as other water-related targets as set out in the Water Action Agenda.

Themes due for discussion include the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, water for sustainable development, water for climate, resilience and environment, water for cooperation and Water Action Decade, accelerating the implementation of the objectives.

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