The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and nine other international organizations have issued an urgent call to governments to prioritize integrated water and climate action ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, UK.
In a letter addressed to the heads of state and government, the coalition states that “accelerated action is urgently needed to address the water-related consequences of climate change that impact people and the planet.”
Leaders of the Water and Climate Coalition will be at COP26 to highlight the urgency of the challenges. The letter urges governments to address more effectively the water dimensions of climate change adaptation and mitigation, as provided for in a UN-agreed framework to accelerate progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 6 (ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all).
It was signed by the heads of the WMO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN University (UNU), the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP).
The letter said, “Climate change is dramatically affecting the water cycle, making droughts and floods more extreme and frequent and decreasing the natural water storage in ice and snow. Rising temperature and variability in flow patterns of water bodies also strongly affect water quality both in surface and groundwater.
“Changing precipitation patterns are already impacting agriculture, food systems, and livelihoods are becoming increasingly vulnerable, as well as ecosystems, and biodiversity. Rising sea levels threaten communities, infrastructure, coastal environments and aquifers.
“According to a recent UNICEF report on the impact of climate change on children, over one third of the world’s children (920 million) are currently severely exposed to water scarcity. Furthermore, the UN World Water development Report 2020 emphasizes that water is the ‘climate connector’ that allows for greater collaboration and coordination across the majority of targets for climate change (Paris Agreement), sustainable development (2030 Agenda and its SDGs), and disaster risk reduction (Sendai Framework).”
The letter lists a number of urgent priorities for government leaders, including:
- Integrating the water and climate agendas at a national level through national adaptation and resilience planning and at the regional level, through transboundary cooperation;
- Promoting and financing global water monitoring systems to provide timely knowledge about the current and future water availability and quality levels at the global-, regional- and local-levels;
- Supporting technical, political and scientific cooperation at the basin, regional and global levels;
- Encouraging universal access to timely warnings about water-related disasters to help save lives and protect livelihoods;
- Factoring in water in bold Nationally Determined Contributions;
- Promoting a proactive approach to flood and drought management based on three pillars: monitoring, forecasting and early warning; vulnerability and impact assessment; and preparedness, mitigation and response; and
- Supporting the integration of data and projections on climate and water risks into the design of resilient infrastructure, including water and sanitation services, especially for the most vulnerable.
“The United Nations system, engaging in a coordinated manner through the decades of water action and action on the SDGs, and the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, stands ready to support your country in ensuring that climate and water action goes hand in hand,” states the letter.
Water and Climate Coalition at COP26
There will be a Water and Climate Leaders event “Committing to an Integrated Global Water and Climate Agenda” at COP26. The event takes place Tuesday, November 2, 11:00am to 12:00pm (BST/GMT) in Meeting Room 15 (84/42) Area F Ground Floor. It will be streamed virtually and will also be available on the WMO YouTube channel and via UN WebTV.