The World Water Development Report ‘Water and Climate Change’ published on World Water Day concentrates on the opportunities of improved water management. According to the UN combining climate change adaptation and mitigation, through water, is a win-win proposal. It will improve the provision of water supply and sanitation services and combat both the causes and impacts of climate change.
The annual report focuses on the challenges and potential responses to climate change through water. Climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of water for basic human needs, threatening the global human rights to water and sanitation. The alteration of the water cycle will also pose risks for energy production, food security, human health, economic development and poverty reduction, thus seriously jeopardizing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Interactions between water and other major socio-economic sectors. Source: WWDR2020
Water related disasters
When the climate changes water availability will become unreliable. It will aggravate the situation in water-stressed regions and generate similar problems in new areas. Water related disasters will become more frequent and severe. Food security, human health, urban and rural settlements, energy production, industrial development, economic growth, and thriving ecosystems are all water-dependent and thus vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Nature based solutions
Adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies for managing and reducing the risks of climate change through water. Water efficiency measures have a direct effect on energy savings, which can lead to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Specific water management interventions such as conservation agriculture, wetland protection and other nature-based solutions can also help to sequester carbon in biomass and soils.
Translate policy into action
According to the UN a few countries have prepared specific water plans to act upon climate change. Even less countries have estimated the related costs of these actions. Water resources management and water supply and sanitation services are currently underfinanced and in need of greater attention from governments. Although there are significant sources available from the Climate Change funds, most of that has been earmarked for mitigation, and has thus not been available for financing water interventions.
There are increasing opportunities to more genuinely and systematically integrate adaptation and mitigation planning into water investments, rendering these investments and associated activities more appealing to climate financiers. Furthermore, various water-related climate change initiatives can also provide co-benefits such as job creation and improved public health. This will improve the bankability of crucial water projects.