The report stresses the need to prioritize water in climate actions and emphasize it as a top priority for adaptation in most nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
It argues that water can support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change and that sustainable water resources management is essential to achieving the SDGs, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Also on World Water Day, the CEO Water Mandate launched the Water Resilience Coalition to help preserve the world’s freshwater resources.
On World Water Day, observed annually on 22 March, UN-Water released the 2020 World Water Development Report, which highlights the essential role of water resources as a solution to climate change. The report argues that water can support efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change and that sustainable water resources management is essential to achieving the SDGs, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The report, titled ‘The UN World Water Development Report 2020: Water and Climate Change,’ states that climate change will affect the “availability, quality and quantity of water needed for basic human needs” and potentially threaten the human right to water and sanitation for billions of people. Increased water temperatures and decreased dissolved oxygen will affect water quality and contribute to a reduction in the self-purification capacity of freshwater basins. In addition, periods of droughts and floods may exacerbate the concentration of pollution and pathogens in water. Ecosystems, including forests and wetlands, are also likely to be negatively impacted by changes in water quality, resulting in biodiversity loss and negative impacts on the provision of water-related ecosystem services, including carbon capture and storage, natural flood protection and water purification.
The report also discusses the challenge of wastewater treatment, which generates an estimated 3-7% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, from the biochemical processes and energy used to treat wastewater. Untreated wastewater is also a source of methane. The report calls for improved wastewater management and suggests that the extraction of methane from organic matter can be used to generate energy needed to run wastewater treatment processes. Water-scarce countries, including Jordan, Mexico, Peru and Thailand, have employed these techniques, resulting in financial savings, improved service quality, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
The report stresses the need to prioritize water in climate actions and emphasize it as a top priority for adaptation in most nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Although States often mention water in their NDCs’ portfolio of actions, few calculate the costs of these actions and only 10% elaborate on specific projects. The report recommends that States increase opportunities to integrate adaptation and mitigation planning into water-related investments to promote the sustainable management of water resources, the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and to help achieve the SDGs.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) publishes the World Water Development Report annually on behalf of UN-Water. World Water Day 2020 focused on the linkages between water and climate change.
Also, to mark the Day, the CEO Water Mandate launched the Water Resilience Coalition, which will bring together companies from around the world to help preserve freshwater resources. Coalition members will commit to develop and implement water resilience practices across their industry, to provide leadership and advocacy on water resilience, and to contribute to a positive impact in water stressed basins. [UN Water Press Release] [Publication: The UN world water development report 2020: water and climate change] [UN Water Press Release on Water Resilience Coalition] [World Water Day Website]