COP23 – 2017 – Bonn: Freshwater victim of climate change, We must act quickly!

  Created at the COP22 in Marrakech in 2016, the "Global Alliances for Water and Climate - GAfWaC", gather the four "Alliances" of the Basins (Paris Pact), Megacities, Desalination and Business, themselves established at the COP21 in Paris a year earlier. Today, they represent more than 450 organizations around the world, which have committed themselves to mobilize their partners, identify and disseminate good practices and support the development of new projects by field stakeholders involved in adaptation to climate change and in the resilience of the inland freshwater sector. The Global Alliances for Water and Climate have been designated by the two Moroccan and Fijian "Climate Champions" to prepare and coordinate, with their partners in the sector, the "Official Action Day for Water and Climate", which took place on Friday 10 November 2017 as part of the COP23 in Bonn and which followed the International Rome Summit on "Water and Climate" held from 23 to 25 October. This Day was an opportunity to remind decision makers that freshwater is one of the first victims of climate change. Indeed, freshwater resources are already and will be more and more directly affected, and this in the coming years, with the consequences, in particular, and depending on the regions, of an increase in intensity and frequency of floods and droughts, the strengthening of extreme meteorological and hydrological phenomena, a flow deregulation of the rivers originating in the mountains, due to the melting of glaciers and the reduction of snow cover, an increased erosion caused by the modification of plant species and soil cover, and changes or even reduction in agricultural production, a change in flows at the mouth of rivers, as well as salt intrusions on the coasts and in coastal aquifers, due to the rising of sea levels, an increased prevalence of water-borne diseases or the arrival of invasive species in ecosystems, especially caused by the warming of surface water. The demographic, economic and ecological consequences are likely to be very significant and require global mobilization to quickly prepare the necessary adaptation programs at the level of each basin, taking surface water and groundwater into account. Areas with big human settlements and economic activities will be seriously threatened, with the risk of large population displacements, especially in rural areas. These effects are compounded by significant pressures already linked to population growth, urbanization and development. Global warming is a "multiplier of threats", aggravating difficult situations and increasing tensions, even in stable regions! We must act quickly, before it is too late, and the mobilization of all stakeholders is essential at the global level, in order to urgently develop the programs needed to prevent the effects of global warming and adapt to them. In 93% of their National Contributions (NDCs), the countries have identified water as a priority for adaptation. As water is essential for human health, food security, energy production, industrial productivity, tourism, river navigation, biodiversity, in addition to basic human needs, securing water resources means ensuring security in all these areas of economic, social and environmental development. Adaptation to climate change is one of the conditions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. The Action Day for Water and Climate was organized around a review of the actions that have been carried out, especially by the four Global Alliances for Water and Climate, since the COP22 in Marrakech last year, and four thematic sessions on improving the funding of adaptation projects, the knowledge needed in the field of water to respond to climate uncertainty, water and urban resilience and finally on water, sustainable agriculture and food security. It has shown, with the presentation of many actions already in progress, that "no regrets" solutions exist and can be implemented immediately, but also that difficulties must be overcome. Among the recommendations made, it can especially be noted that:
  • Integrated water resources management should be organized at the level of coastal, national or transboundary rivers, lakes and aquifers basins, because, in particular, regional and transboundary cooperation is crucial and must be increased where there are surface or groundwater resources shared by several riparian countries.
  • In each country and each basin, the organization and improvement of the production, gathering, conservation, exchange and dissemination of data are to be supported within integrated Water Information Systems (WIS), which are to be sustained in the long term, while taking climate change into account, because “we do not know how to manage what we cannot measure” and the delay in this area is important: Flood and drought early warning systems should be strengthened or developed wherever necessary.
  • Water management needs to be organized in a cross-sectoral way involving local authorities, including municipalities, economic sectors, especially agriculture and energy, and the civil society as a whole. Effective participation of all relevant stakeholders should be promoted in the decision-making and management processes and in the development of field projects. From this point of view, the Alliances created between basins, cities and businesses allow a better mobilization of these partners, a shared vision of the issues and solutions, the cross-dissemination of good practices and the pooling of support means.
  • Multiple benefits are provided by Nature-Based Solutions, which have proven effective alongside conventional infrastructure and which contribute to reducing the costs of action: They need to be promoted and skills have to be provided to develop this "green engineering". In this regard, during COP 23, an appeal was launched for the signing of a declaration to support the integration of the use of Nature-Based Solutions into the "Action Agenda of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action", which has already gathered more than 70 signatures from international or national organizations involved.
  • Governments and the international community must ensure the easier mobilization of essential funding for the implementation of urgent actions to adapt water to climate. The achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of the Paris Agreement require accelerating funding from all sources for climate action in the water sector. Financing, whose procedures should be simplified, must not only support infrastructure projects, but also serve to improve knowledge of resources and climate change impacts, capacity building, governance, training, water culture, monitoring and evaluation of policies or the use of nature-based solutions. Project incubation resources, to facilitate their funding from the various "Climate Funds", appeared very useful in the light of current experiences.
The next World Water Forum, to be held in Brasilia from 19 to 23 March 2018, will be the occasion for a new mobilization around these objectives. The Global Alliances for Water and Climate (GAfWaC) regroup:
  1. The Alliance of the 360 signatories of the Paris Pact on water and adaptation to climate change in the basins of rivers, lakes and aquifers, in 94 countries, facilitated by the International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO) in partnership with UNECE,
  2. The Business Alliance for Water And Climate Change - BAFWAC, launched by the Carbon Disclosure Project - CDP, the CEO Water Mandate, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and SUEZ, which has now 65 member organizations, including 47 leading companies,
  3. The Alliance of Megacities for Water and Climate, facilitated by UNESCO, SIAAP, ICLEI, and Arceau-IDF, gathering 16 Megacities for a total population of more than 300 million inhabitants,
  4. The Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance, gathering dozens of companies and research centers in this field.
Contacts: For the Alliance of the signatories of the "Paris Pact" on water and adaptation to climate change in the basins: For the Alliance of Megacities: For the Business Alliance: For the Desalination Alliance: Find us on the website: www.water-climate-alliances.org

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