COP 23 Water Action Day Estimates US$295 Billion Needed, Calls for Nature-Based Solutions
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Water agencies at UNFCCC COP 23 estimate that approximately US$295 billion will be needed for countries to take action on adaptation to climate change in the water sector – a tripling of current investment levels.

On the COP 23 Water Action Day, 33 water alliances supporting the integration of nature-based solutions into the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action signed an International Declaration on Nature-Based Solutions for Water Management Under Climate Change.

Water Action Day at COP 23 featured events and breakout sessions on: water knowledge to respond to climate uncertainty; water for urban resilience; and water for sustainable agriculture and food security.

10 November 2017: Water agencies at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, estimated that approximately US$295 billion would be needed for countries to take action on adaptation to climate change in the water sector – a tripling of current investment levels. They launched an International Declaration on Nature-Based Solutions for Water Management Under Climate Change, signed by many water alliances supporting the integration of nature-based solutions into the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.

Water Action Day at COP 23 featured events and breakout sessions on: water knowledge to respond to climate uncertainty; water for urban resilience; and water for sustainable agriculture and food security.

On water financing, Water Action Day speakers noted that most countries have prioritized water in their national climate plans, but financing is far from adequate. They anticipated that approximately 40% of the world’s population will face water shortages by 2050, lowering economic output and provoking migration and conflict, and they noted that countries face obstacles in accessing funding to invest in the needed infrastructure and capacity building. Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, President, Women for Water Partnership, called for the sustainable use of water to be at the center of building resilience cities and human settlements, and ensuring food security in a climate change context.

The World Bank, with the Australian Government, has supported Fiji to become the first country in the world to issue a sovereign green bond in October 2017, which has raised US$50 million for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Fiji holds the Presidency of the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The International Declaration on Nature-Based Solutions was signed by 33 alliances representing many governments, international and national organizations, river basin organizations, local authorities, civil society, companies and research organizations. The Declaration highlights the possibilities for combining nature-based solutions with civil engineering approaches. Signatories commit to including nature-based solutions in their long-term strategies and policies on climate change, risk reduction, land planning, and soil and water management, implementing relevant tools, and monitoring and evaluating outcomes through existing alliances on water and climate in the framework of the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action and through the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). COP 22 created the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action to support climate action by Parties and non-Party stakeholders to implement the Paris Agreement during the period 2017-2020.

Two side events supported the promotion of nature-based solutions during COP 23. On 9 November, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) together with the French Water Partnership, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Great Green Wall Initiative and other partners hosted a round-table discussion on the topic. Discussions highlighted the urgency to prepare countries for imminent water shortages through integrated land and water resources management solutions, national drought plans, and working with local communities on environmental restoration. On 10 November, the Ramsar Secretariat hosted a side event focusing on the linkages between water, climate and biodiversity. James Dalton, IUCN, suggested that COP 23 should focus more on the role of water in climate action and healthy ecosystems, noting that poor communications and institutional weaknesses are challenges for mainstreaming solutions on sustainable development.

Several alliances of water organizations, researchers and campaigners were active at COP 23, including #ClimateIsWater, the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), and Global Alliances for Water and Climate (GAfWaC). Many called on countries to take action through their nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) to treat water as a high priority in policies for energy, food security, health and education.

Some national governments, including Germany, Morocco, and the Netherlands formed a campaign coalition known as #BlueLineBonn to highlight the role of water in adaptation to climate change, together with AGWA, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), and the #ClimateIsWater group. AGWA is co-chaired by representatives of the World Bank and SIWI.

SIWI released two position papers ahead of COP 23 on the role of water in the Sustainable Development Goals on zero hunger (SDG 2) and on sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11). The position paper on food is titled, ‘A Thirst for Food Resilience: Climate-Smart Water Knowledge,’ and the position paper on cities is titled, ‘Sustaining Waters, Sustainable Cities: Urban Climate Change and SDG Policy Solutions Through Water Resilience’.

Other resources launched during the week included AGWA’s ‘ClimateReady’ podcast on climate and water, and a joint guide by UN Environment, DHI, the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and the UNEP DTU Partnership titled, ‘Climate Change Adaptation Technologies for Water: A Practitioner’s Guide to Adaptation Technologies for Increased Water Sector Resilience.’ The guide provides an overview of technologies for adaptation to climate change in the water resources sector.

In the lead-up to the UNFCCC in Bonn, Germany, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organized a ‘Knowledge Forum on Water Security and Climate Change’ in Paris, France, to enhance partnerships for water security and climate change. [UN Press Release on Marrakech Partnership Initiatives on Water, Energy and Food] [UNFCCC Press Release on Financing] [UNFCCC Web Page on Water Action Day] [UNESCO Web Page on Knowledge Forum] [French Water Partnership Web Page on International Declaration] [Full Text of International Declaration on ‘Nature-based Solutions for Water Management under Climate Change’] [World Bank Press Release] [UNFCCC Web Page on Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action] [RAMSAR Press Release] [UNCCD Press Release] [AGWA #BlueLineBonn Web Page] [AGWA Position Paper on Food] [AGWA Position Paper on Cities] [AGWA ‘ClimateReady’ Podcast Series] [Full Text of ‘Climate Change Adaptation Technologies for Water: A Practitioner’s Guide to Adaptation Technologies for Increased Water Sector Resilience’] [UNESCO Web Page on Knowledge Forum on Water Security and Climate Change]


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