Earlier this year, an IPCC report found that the majority of all adaptation actions (changes humans will need to make in response to climate change) are water-related.
A new global partnership, led by the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), aims to ensure every country is prepared for water security issues such as droughts and floods as the climate changes.
Meeting at COP27 in Egypt, the partnership will promote "water resilience" – making sure water-related policies, plans and investments can cope with climate impacts, so that countries can adapt and thrive in the face of climate change.
The COP27 event will launch phase two of the Water Tracker for National Climate Planning tool, which helps countries assess and enhance water resilience in their national climate plans.
The event is hosted by AGWA, Arup, Deltares, the University of Exeter's Global Systems Institute, the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Walker Institute at the University of Reading.
"We are already seeing increased risks to water security caused by climate change," said Professor Richard Betts MBE, from the University of Exeter and the Met Office and a Lead Author on the IPCC Water chapter.
"Climate change is causing more extreme weather, and we are seeing more droughts in many parts of the world, and heavy rain leading to floods.
"The impacts of this are not just about climate, it's also about how people and societies respond – what we do with water, how much we need and how we manage it.
"Disadvantaged people around the world are most at risk from our growing water security issues.
"We are all entitled to clean, fresh water, and we need to plan ahead to ensure access for everyone as the climate changes."
John Matthews, Executive Director at the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, adds: “Right now, most of us are responding to news about climate change with fear: how do brace for negative impacts like extreme floods and droughts?
“Clearly, we need to prepare, but we also need to think about what thriving looks like with climate change.
“Water resilience is about being proactive and forward thinking – not just how can we get ready for worse impacts, but how can we enable prosperous and healthy economies, ecosystems and societies, even as the climate continues to change?”
Speakers at the COP27 event, on Saturday 12 November from 16:45-18:15 Eastern European Time (GMT +2), include:
- Lord Zac Goldsmith, UK Minister of State for Asia, Energy, Climate and Environment
- Dr Hani Sewilam, Egypt's Minister of Water Resources & Irrigation
- Professor Rosalind Cornforth, Walker Institute, University of Reading
- Professor Richard Betts, University of Exeter and UK Met Office
- Ms Sarita Dawadi, Joint Secretary, Water Resources Research and Development Center (WRRDC), Nepal
- Ms Ibtisam Abuhaija, Director of Climate Change and Drought Management, Ministry of Agriculture
A panel discussion will feature representatives from countries and finance institutions on the topic of: "Water resilience as the key to effective climate action."
The event will provide an overview of climate risks to water security, including drought, floods, and human vulnerability and demonstrate how the Water Tracker tool addresses these issues.
It will also showcase examples of climate-resilient water management from Water Tracker pilot countries including Palestine, Egypt and Nepal.
In Palestine, the Water Tracker has helped decision-makers assess the water needs of their climate plans and identify ways to become more resilient. These include flexible operational rules and monitoring for water use under climate uncertainty, the tracking of climate investments and improving accountability in the use of climate finance.
Ms Salam Abu Hantash, of the Palestinian Water Authority, said: “The Water Tracker has been a fantastic tool in helping us see how water is included in these policies, and what we can do to better manage it and increase water resilience through all sectors with regards to climate change in the future.”